The Character Development Threads can be found in the Writer's Block section. Intended as a shared story and a writing exercise, tropers can write a character in and develop them through a Story Arc. These threads have become a tradition, since borrowed from NaNoWriMo. Although some of the earlier threads, such as Bar, Nightclub, and Picnic have been sadly Lost Forever in the archive purges, most of them can still be read deep in the depths of the Writer's Block thread list.There are two main 'styles' of thread- 'serious', 'non-casual', or 'main series' (as seen below) and 'casual', which each carry their own quirks, benefits, and drawbacks. In 'serious' threads, combat is allowed and characters can fight to maim or kill, whereas in 'casual' threads, violence is generally not allowed and may even be physically impossible.The discussion thread can be found here.
Writing for the CDTs is, on a technical level, no different from writing for a novel. All standard technical conventions of prose fiction writing and English spelling and grammar apply in the threads. Of course, character dialogue is exempt from strict grammatical rules if that is a part of their natural voice. If you need extra help with English, Purdue University's Online Writing Lab can help, particularly their pages on grammar and punctuation; their page on mechanics can also help with general communication.
If you ever have any questions on a guideline written in this folder, something that's happening in-thread, or just want a second opinion on something, don't ever hesitate to ask, whether in the discussion thread linked in the intro above or a PM. As informal as we may be, a little bit of communication can go a long way towards having a good experience. As a corollary, if you feel that someone is bending or breaking a guideline listed in this folder or otherwise posting in a way that's rendering the story difficult to proceed with, please say so.
Please read the first post of any thread before jumping in, which can contain valuable information about the details of the setting, special rules or restrictions to follow in addition to the ones in this folder, and links to resources such as the thread's designated TV Tropes page, maps of the setting, and the weather and current time of day in-thread. Their contents are also pinned at the top of each page of the thread in a pinkish-orangish box.
It is helpful to think of the CDTs as a book series and to write using conventions that would be appropriate to see in a work of literature. This means that you're not required to produce profiles or images of your characters. If you already have them, posting drawings or visual likenesses of your characters can be a nice touch, but profiles can be at least a little redundant compared to letting your characters' words and actions speak for themselves in-story. Also tying in with the book series analogy is what to do if you bring a character you've already used in a past thread- write and describe them as though this is their first appearance, regardless of how much or in what ways they've changed (or haven't) since their last in-thread appearance.
It's advisable to come to these threads with a loose goal in mind to guide what you do with your characters, which can be anything from wanting to work on a specific aspect of a character that's proving difficult to trying something new out to simply wanting to have fun or help people. It doesn't hurt to mention it out-of-character, whether as a spoilered comment in-thread or in the discussion. As you write, try to be mindful of your fellow writers' reasons for being there. Communicate your intentions and make an effort to ensure everyone you're writing with can share the spotlight. If you're stuck and not sure what to do, talk it out!
The Nitty-Gritty of Participating
Ideally, posts should be at least a paragraph and contain an action of some sort. They could show reactions to the other events and characters around them, advance the plot (whatever that plot may be), set something up for later, or reveal something about your characters, such as their thoughts or feelings on a situation. If you're writing your characters in a Cast Herd with two or more writers, try to make sure everyone in the group has a chance to reply. Don't get into rapidfire back-and-forth posting with only one other writer- either slow down and let the others in your group have a turn, or split off into your own group.
Don't bring more characters than you can handle given the other goings-on of your life. By 'handle', we mean writing for with reasonable depth of character, which is preferable to breadth. If you bring more than one, make an attempt at getting all of them involved with the characters of another writer. Bouncing off of one another without interacting with other people's characters should be done in moderation and only with a good reason, such as a first post that glosses over any initial setting-related bewilderment so that they can get straight into interacting with others by the post's end. You've been given an opportunity to get your characters around other writers who can notice things and move your characters in directions you may have never found on your own, so don't waste it doing something that you can just as easily do alone.
Whenever you bring a character to a thread, make an entry for them in the Active Troper Characters folder on the thread's TV Tropes page. In this entry, provide a link to their in-thread introductory post (or whichever post contains the most details about their physical appearance), your Troper handle, and a brief, one- or two-sentence description of your character. (If you have drawings or physical likenesses of your characters, you can also include links to those images.) This will make it easier to keep your characters from getting lost in the shuffle.
Since this is a collaborative environment, be aware that if you have an especially detailed plan in mind such as a specific plot that you want to make happen, you must account for the fact that it will not go exactly as you want. Do not expect to be able to foresee or control the behavior of other writers and their characters.
Although non-casual threads generally lack any inherent means of protecting characters from harm or death, note that none of our threads will ever disallow any particular type of character or genre, and that includes characters who are not equipped to defend themselves or others. In order for these two groups to continue coexisting within single threads, we ask that you please respect the wishes of other writers who would prefer that their characters go unmolested. In a similar vein, unless absolutely everyone involved happens to be okay with it (which is unlikely to happen at best), it is preferable that you not disturb large parts of the cast or physical setting that will make it difficult to continue with the thread in the same manner as before.
Some threads may have explicitly defined (such as an interdimensional door) or implicit (e.g., an otherwise modern, Western city would logically have paved roads for cars and buses, passenger trains, maybe even an airport, etc.) means for characters to reach the settings in the threads. These exist more or less for flavor or setting definition purposes and can be freely ignored. Your characters can appear in the setting through any method you choose, for any in-story reason, and, as a step up from the previous, anywhere. It all depends on what you want to do with the character. Especially if there's no logical way in your characters' home settings for them to end up at a setting of a thread's nature, it would perhaps be more beneficial for their development if the nature of their arrival was left vague and if you presented a compressed account in your post of them reconciling the setting in the context of their worldview so that you can skip straight to developing them in the span of a single post.
In some threads, fight scenes will happen. With characters from so many different universes with different rules and abilities, it's very important that we try to maintain some order. Do not autohit- that means writing your character doing something, such as throwing a punch or shooting at somebody else's character, and writing out the effects on that character, whether it hits or harms them or whatnot. Also, don't forget to communicate. Exchange PMs with the writers of your characters' opponents to lay down some loose guidelines and establish a bit of camaraderie to help keep feelings from getting hurt in the process.
This is important more than ever with the extreme variance of speculative fiction elements- what may be possible or ubiquitous in one world may be impossible or vanishingly rare in another, and what works in one manner in one world will almost certainly work differently in another. Though you and your fellow writers can certainly attempt it on your own time, it is plainly impossible and too impractical for us to fully reconcile the exact interactions of something like magic or antimagic from two different systems for us as a group to be able to even take this on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, the major rule to keep in mind is that you should never attempt to assume how something of yours will affect something that isn't yours, regardless of perceived genre-specific 'norms', real-world mythological basis, or any other 'standard'. Go ahead and write your character throwing that punch or pulling the trigger, but let the writer of the character on the receiving end decide how they'll take it.
As a corollary, asspulling your character out of harm's way is seriously frowned upon, as with all forum roleplays that feature combat. Recall that in the end, we are developing our characters and writing a story together. While these 'stories' of ours may not be great, avoiding Deus Ex Machinae when we can is one small way to make them just a little bit better.
Death Is Cheap around these parts- if a character is incapacitated or even killed during the course of the thread, they do not have to stay that way beyond the end of the thread; whether if they should is up to the discretion of the writer of the crippled or dead character. The details of the event can be glossed over ('it's good to see you, you really got beaten that day', etc.) or made light of as the writer deems appropriate.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall is a time-honored tradition around these parts, mostly in the form of characters noticing the various quirks of the settings created for the threads that set them apart from their own home settings. If Breaking the Fourth Wall is possible in your characters' home work, you can still participate and let them keep their knowledge of their nature and the existence of the wall, but you, the writer, must keep in mind that the fourth wall of the threads is completely solid. If your characters' knowledge or ability to interact with the wall allows them to do things that wouldn't be possible if the wall were completely solid in their home work (such as Medium Awareness or consulting the audience and receiving feedback), they will have to give those things up for the duration of the thread. But do not despair, as there are ways that this can be worked with depending on what direction you would like to take your characters in for the thread, including but not limited to:
Allowing them to discover for themselves that the fourth wall is solid here with appropriate results, whether they have an epiphany and reevaluate themselves, have to learn how to get by without the fourth wall they're used to, and/or just have to deal with people finding them daft.
Letting them think about stuff beyond the fourth wall and other metafictional things all they want while keeping it to themselves. Telepaths and other means of mind-reading won't be able to pick up on any metafiction-related thoughts, but will be able to pick up on everything else.
Choosing not to show or mention any metafictional elements at all.
Anyone Can Die/Nobody Can Die: A bizarre mixture of the two. Troper characters aren't immune from deaths, but declaring another troper's character dead from one of your own's attacks is generally frowned upon.
Cast Herd: These are pretty much essential to the threads for the sake of making sure everyone gets enough attention.
Characterization Marches On: Since the purpose of these threads is to learn about and develop your characters, this is the expected result of using your character in the thread, especially if they return in a later thread.
Closed Circle: Castle takes place in an Island Base surrounded by a tropical storm. Hotel and Bar had intense snowstorms. Carnival takes place in the middle of a thunderstorm 30 miles away from the nearest city. Nightclub seems to have this at first, only for the cast to adventure out to the end of the city, into the depths of the ocean, to Rapture.
Death Is Cheap: Though characters can certainly be Killed Off for Real, this only lasts for the duration of the thread, with the character returning in a later thread whole with possibly little more than some sour memories and feelings regarding their murderers.
Extremely Short Timespan: The majority of the threads' events take place in less than twelve hours, due to Webcomic Time. Averted in Heist (about one in-story week), Resort (several days) and Archipelago (a full day and then some).
Genre-Busting: Inevitable when crossing over characters from different settings and genres.
Genre Roulette: The genre of each thread can vary quite a lot, to say the least, and even within a single thread. Casual threads tend to be more relaxed, while the non-casual threads have featured Closed Circle mysteries, adventures, puzzles, and so on. But no thread, regardless of style or genre, has ever been in particularly short supply of interpersonal drama.
Genre Shift: Different conversations in the same room can appear to be from completely different works and settings, let alone what's going on between different rooms.
Idiot Ball: This was lampshaded by Ian Down during Castle due to his recklessness that got him injured several times.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Several characters throughout the threads have openly mused and/or wondered about the nature of the settings that appear in the threads as well as the more classic questions of their own fictionality. Carnival has the characters questioning whether or not they're fictional. University has two characters discussing the way previously-described parts of the setting do not appear to have been created by someone who's visited an actual university. Archipelago had Vince- in his tenth thread appearance -actually call the archipelago itself a setting due to how parts of CDT settings can sometimes seem to exist in a vacuum or without permanence (they almost cease to exist when not being looked at), only to then presume that the alternate universe-creating aliens that he studies are behind the 'settings'' existence.
Lighter and Softer: Some OPs insist that the setting should be relaxed in order to avert meaningless fighting, but that doesn't stop other writers from writing in life-threatening crises.
Myth Arc: Believe it or not, there is. The question of what has been drawing these various characters to certain locales remains up for grabs.
Never Live It Down: An in-universe example in Island. Prisha has known Bianca to hallucinate once and he sees her as a schizophrenic for the rest of the thread.
No Ending: Constantly. These threads will, more of then than not, fade without a proper end when people get bored or too busy in Real Life to keep going. Castle was the first to avert this, and Carnival, Resort, and Mansion have followed in its stead.