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Forums » RP Discussion » Showing and Hiding Thoughts

I know that different people have different thoughts on how far into a character's head we should go when writing. Most of what I share gets mixed into the narration, but I do sometimes type clear thoughts, and sometimes there are those character who can communicate directly by thought. (I do try to limit what I share to what is actually relevant, though.)

The up side I find to sharing is that it tends to help the game run a little more smoothly and can sometimes communicate things that other characters could probably pick up on, but which describing might turn too messy. (I personally find it particularly helpful to get bits that are not dependent on imagery, since I'm just short of having aphantasia; mental pictures are difficult and unclear, and very little registers as worth trying to picture) Down side is that it can encourage metagaming and make reveals difficult.

But I also have a character who can be perceived wildly different depending on whether or not you can see her thoughts, and that got me thinking more about how to balance that. Raven is an illiterate mute. What others would actually perceive of her is a shy, nervous girl who sticks to the simplest of concepts and who only bothers to communicate when it is needed. It would be very easy to assume that she's very simple-minded and mostly just knows some cleaning and survival skills. She should be perceived that way by at least the majority. Sharing any of what's going on in her head starts to remove that perception, especially when I share the silent conversations she has with Shade (bird).

The point before I ramble too much more... I got to thinking of still sharing those thoughts, but having them in spoiler tags or something. Would that be too annoying? Entirely pointless? Is it something you've tried, or do you have different methods of balancing things out?

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Sanne Moderator

I think that would be a good balance, using spoiler tags. Some characters are naturally more perceptive than others and our body language can change subtly with our thoughts and we dont realize it, but other people do. Having thoughts written out helps a lot to bridge the gap between textand seeing body language.

If people metagame then that is more a problem with the player and their style/lack of experience, and it shouldn't curb your ability to write your character how she is written best.
It depends on a lot of factors for me. My advice is this: the crazier the character, the more their thoughts should "bleed" into the narrative, while more sane characters should have clear tags.

"Of course, the man in the red suit stood there, holding the gun behind his back. It had to be a gun, Crazy, noticed, why else would his hand be back there? Crazy took several steps to find some form of cover."

"The man in the red suit awkwardly held his hand behind his back, Sane found this unusual, keeping an eye on him. Something must be up, Sane thought, otherwise, well, his hand might be somewhere else.
I generally add thoughts if they add to the context or otherwise might show on a characters face, tone or body language. If I feel their thoughts or inner monologue adds something, it gets in.
Sometimes their inner thoughts mostly help ME work out what they're on about lol.

I make it a point not to play against people who'd use such ooc knowledge without good reason. Now if they have a character who's hyper perceptive, or a mind reader, you could use it to good effect.

Sometimes narratively it works better to have a character's internal monologue be totally silent of course, because you're hiding something or not wanting to give something away too soon for dramatic effect. Right now I have a character i'm not doing any internal monologue for because not showing her thoughts makes her seem all the more strange and alien and sets the other players on edge because she's a mystery. This gives the "feel" I wanted and as a result, no thoughts.
Meanwhile I have had to explain why another person is wary of cameras as part of the narrative just because it added context to his otherwise quite irrational behavior.
Sometimes you NEED context as a reader, otherwise a character's actions just seem bizarre and random and you question it.
It pulls you out because you're thinking "why?"
Other times not having all the info promotes intrigue and mystery.

It all depends on what you need to convey and what you want to give away. You know?

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