Suggested Guidelines for Enjoyment
- As a writer, even an aspiring one, proper spelling and grammar is important. To exercise your writing, offer at least a few full paragraphs. Did you react to the other characters in the scene? Did you act out and flesh out your character at all? A few full paragraphs means exactly that: at least 2-3 full paragraphs, or at least 12-15 sentences. Paragraphs are at least five sentences. Each post is like watching another player's turn - make it count.
- By extension, include something significant in your post. This can mean you might introduce a new element that advances the plot, have your character take an action that the other players cant ignore, or that sets up something for later. You might simply characterize your character(s), be it by delving into his/her thoughts, or having them take seemingly trivial actions that reveal aspects of the character underneath. You might explore the relationships between the characters, be it between your own characters or with those of another player. These are all examples of significant action.
- The practical reasons for doing so is because it is unsatisfying for people to put down filler posts which describe little more than a hit on a ghostly foe, or simple small talk that fiction writing would gloss over without second thought. It's also frustrating, waiting for the story to move on in this manner. In short, more depth per post results in deeper story immersion.
- Conversely, be wary of forcing too much action in your posts which keeps other characters helplessly at bay.
- Refrain from taking control of characters that belong to somebody else. More often than not, this causes characters to act out-of-character. If you come to a point where you want to or feel that it is necessary to do so, ask yourself the following questions. "Do I know this character well?", "Are my plans for them consistent with their established characterization?", and, most importantly, "Do I have permission to do so from this character's author?" And, yes, you need to ask yourself those questions every time.
- Try to stick to writing one character at a time. Having two or more characters tends to lead to detached micro-management a la CRPG and Real-Time Strategy games, and depth of character would be preferred to breadth.
- Keep OOC-chatter to a minimum, unless if it's serious like an extended absence, dropping out from the story, or major plot issues. This is to help keep immersion. Minor quibbles can be adapted to in the writing itself, or through PM's. If you wish to have a chat about a character thread, see the Character Discussion thread.
- Asspulling your character out of harm's way is seriously frowned upon.
- Innuendo and nudity are generally accepted, as long as it's not too lascivious, but as per forum rules, actual sex must be done offscreen.
- Overall, try to have good etiquette which includes (but isn't limited to) encouraging other participants to contribute to the story. Each post must advance some element of the story in a significant manner, as described above. If your character grows and changes in the process, good! Imagination and creativity is the staple of writing.
Rules, Guidelines, and Other Things to Keep in Mind (a revision to the above folder)
The Big Things
- All TV Tropes forum rules are in effect within the threads. Don't be a dick, respect your fellow writers, encourage people to contribute, and no explicit sex or NSFW content- keep it PG-13. That being said, innuendo and nudity are generally acceptable without being too lascivious, but any actual sex must be done offscreen.
- 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 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 tell someone- bring it up in the discussion, PM them, or even PM someone else if you'd like a second opinion.
- 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 OOC. 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, and/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 other writers 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. 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.
- Do not take control of any character that does not belong to you without their writer's express consent. More often than not, this causes characters to act out-of-character. This can come in many forms, from the obvious one of writing someone's character as though they were your own to various indirect forms that make unignorable assumptions such as autohitting (discussed below). If you come to a point where you want to or feel that it is necessary to do so, communicate. Make sure you ask the writer of the character that you wish to borrow, be ready to explain what you intend to do, accept their answer as well as any suggestions they make, and be aware that the writer has the right to revoke their consent at any time. Only the writer knows their own creations best, after all.
- 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.
- 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 way 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' or real-world mythological basis. 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 writing a story together and while it may not be great, avoiding Deus Ex Machinae when possible is one simple way to make it at least a little better. [entire point needs elaboration and/or rewording?]
- 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.