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Conversation Driven Writing

xx Conversation Driven Writing
Apr 19, 12, 10:00:00 PM by Jamie

The problem with play by post RPs, as much as I love them, often boils down to the flow of conversation. It often feels like a ping pong match where the point of view shifts between every line in the conversation and we are given an in depth analysis and thought process from each character throughout. This often can become weighted and wordy and break the general flow of conversation between characters.

We we often lose, with our volley style of writing, is the actual conversation between the characters. It becomes overwhelmed and overshadowed by the internal dialogue and the scene around the characters.

It is absolutely elemental to understand the flow of the thread that you are writing in; keeping in mind that the pace of RPs often ebb and flow based on circumstances and actions in the writing. There are many cases in which the internal musings of a character provide as much, if not more, value to the story you are telling as the external conversation with the interacting character. There are also many cases where the pace of the scene is painfully lengthened to accommodate the 250 word count minimum requirements and those words come to overwhelm the actual conversation. The character based conversation and interactions become lost in the muck of their own thoughts and circumstances.

There are two easy ways to better manage the flow of your scene and instigate conversation driven writing.



IDENTIFYING THE FLOW OF A SCENE

The hardest part is correctly identifying the flow of a scene and how your conversation fits into it. This also involves identifying if the conversation is the keystone to the scene or a cornerstone. There are a few things to consider in this element of the writing.

There is no key formula for identifying the flow of a scene. This has to be done based on instinct or planning.

The key question to ask yourself is: What is the key focus of the scene?
a. Internal understanding/dialogue based on external interactions would indicate that the standard post by post flow would be adequate to allow the characters time to develop and explore their internal dialogue. (Ex. Dirk & Alora in Our Fate is Already Sealed)
b. Plot development or growth on a sweeping basis would indicate that the standard post by post flow would be adequate to facilitate the delivery of all information that may not be construed with just words. (ex. Logain & Triangle in Correcting the Course)
c. Conversation between characters that has more external interactions (word volleying) or is a quick paced scene (this could be arguments, lengthy discussions, etc.) or any scene that requires an in depth conversation that would rely on volleying and feedback should use one of the methods for conversation based writing. (Ex. A lot of peoples in Servant of Desire)

If you choose to follow the path of a conversationally written post that does not mean you are always going to give up the in depth point of view of your character. You can still manage this element of the writing as it does not need to be sacrificed in favor of conversation. The major differences you will see is that in conversationally focused writing you will have larger chunks of conversation to analyze from your character's point of view and it actually gives you more to work with from a writing stand point.



THE METHODS

There are 2 distinct methods that we've identified/created at Blood Rites to aid in the writing of conversationally driven scenes. They each have specific benefits to their styles. One of them (Back and Forth) is a quick fire type of post where the points of views are maintained between the characters but the word count is shortened to allow for a quick pace flow. The other (Scene Sharing) is a far more in depth manner in which to write the story and allows for blocks of conversation to be split up and then written into analyzing posts which is much more along the lines of what you would see in novels.

We've taken the time to outline both methods below and how to facilitate and coordinate them with your fellow writers.


1. Back and Forth

The simplest method involves the creation of a fully written scene by taking turns from character point of view. It involves going back and forth in segments only lengthy enough to convey the conversation, reactions and emotions.

These would be 1 (sometimes 2) short paragraphs of text that one of the writers would collect. Once the scene was complete the writer would post all that text from one character account.

To help differentiate the character most writers, who use this style, color code each block of text based on Jewels (usually) and then provide a legend. From a points perspective I still give points based on word counts per character so each character and writer do get credit for the scene even though it's posted from one account.

This creates a much swifter scene to follow and helps with efficiency in writing.

Example: Hush & Lux in Raindrops on Rooftops


2. Scene Sharing
The second one is more complex and requires a specific level of trust between the writers as there is more creative leeway being taken.

The writers outline the scene, focusing only on immediate and noticeable reactions (a smile, a huff of outrage) and the dialog. They can, for themselves, include any internal notes they want to incorporate into the scene when it's fleshed out but this should be a rough copy of the scene only. That outline becomes broken into segments for each writer to post. Each writer then fleshes out their section, including the other writer's/character's dialog and reactions as they do so.

Through this method you maintain the shift of perspective and points of view, but they're more cohesively written.

Example: Eamonn & Loreniel in The Beast You Made of Me (beginning with Reply #5)




FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How are points affected?
Based on how you post the thread is how I will award points. If you use the Back and Forth method I appreciate it when you format it with colors to indicate which block of text belongs to which character. I then distribute points in the same way as always (except that the 10 point base bonus for a thread is split in 2 so each writer gets 5 points). If you use the Scene Sharing method then there is not difference in the calculation of points.

What formatting do you want in these posts?
As noted the only formatting request I have is to identify which writer owns which block of text in the Back and Forth method. Otherwise formatting is up to the playres involved and for their own aesthetics.



One final note - to borrow something White said last year.. if you look at the average thread.. could you image seeing it published as a novel? Unlikely. Typically there are 300 words of thought or situational oberservations and less than 30 words of actual conversation which is the driver of the scene. If you look at published books a lot of the conversation is spit fire back and forth to drive the scene.


Finally if you have any questions pertaining to these methods or would like to try them out with writers who are familiar with them don't hesitate to reach out to Jamie, Dani or White for assistance!

This blog post was adapted from the 2 seminars hosted by Jamie and White on the topic.


Written by Jamie & White


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