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Writers' Resource Blog

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xx The Do's and Don'ts of Plotting
Jun 03, 12, 02:43:36 PM by Jamie

While I was working on my earlier blog post How to Plot I had brainstormed a section for it called the “Do’s and Don’ts of Plotting”. This section took on a life of it’s own and in writing “How to Plot” I realized that I had to separate them (or I would end up with a novel).

The Do’s!

  • Do consider ways to overlap groups in the plot to create a new arc that fits the concepts of the groups and/or characters. This filters up to so many levels and involves lots of people! (ex. Spies/Ramparts overlap in Dharo)
  • Do understand the difference between the characters that you NEED to have Adopted (or made PC) and those that you CAN simply create as NPC.
       
    • Characters that you should consider making NPC are:
               
      • Characters with one dimensional plot - A character only connected to one character and doesn't have a strong leg to stand on without them, would be a NPC.
      • Common Example: Family members.
            
    • Characters that can be Adopted:
               
      • Plot strong characters. Any characters that can plot with more than one plot important character and carry a story line of their own.
        • Example: Court Characters
              
      • If a character exists in a one dimensional field but someone has a muse to breath second and third dimensions of life into the character then it can be adopted; but if, as a stand alone, it is only one dimensional it is best written as an NPC so that it does not box in any potential writer.
      • Examples of making it work: Child of a current Playable Character
        • When he/she should be adoptable: If he/she will be around other characters that may want to deal with them. I.e. the child of a ruling character where the Court has many PCs. Also to be honest, any child that doesn't have a compelling reason to act beyond their age would need likely a Dark jewel to be interesting if not a child of another PC. That is my honest opinion though.
        • When should not be: The character is too young (below 5 years of age). The child would not be feasible to be around many PCs at the same time and/or the PCs wouldn't care much about the child beyond high level interaction.
        • It all boils down to if you can see other players want to playing with the child, but I think that is true for many NPCs. Ask yourself: "If I made this character, who would I be role playing with? What types of threads would I do?"
              

  • Do use those Likes, Dislikes & Fears! Take massive advantage of your Craft Weaknesses! Throw your character up against something they're not equipped to handle. Then make them learn how to handle it.
  • Do find characters in your Territory whose traits complement your character's, either positively or negatively. A rivalry relationship can drive a lot of plot.
  • Do remain flexibile with your character concept and plot so that if there are opportunities to derivate from your course to explore a new path they are not missed, overlooked or ignored!


The Don’ts!

  • Don't create a plot that boxes you into one arc (this also means avoiding adoptions that do that!). If you cannot brainstorm a way out of that arc and to provide alternative plots avoid the character.
  • Don't create Wanted Ads that do not account for ability to have multiple plot fronts.
  • Don't offer random one dimensional suggestions with no support or room for growth and adaptation!
  • Don't open threads with no plot basis. Sometimes we’re so excited to write that we do not think a concept through to the finish. Sometimes these threads are fun and you can derive plot out of them. Someone wandering through the streets and stumbling upon a random character for interaction is dull and usually fizzles out before it can go anywhere for a lack of interest; and there are only so many ways to open those threads before they become repetitive. Someone wandering the streets while pickpocketing and accidentally running into the wrong person for the right plot reasons is far more interesting!
  • Don't post for the sake of posting. Sometimes characters die off or need to be retired. Sometimes the plot no longer supports them. You either need to re-conceptualize them or release them. Our Inactivity policy does allow for you to re-active a character!
  • Don't create threads with open tags that have no plot visibility, character growth or character exploration. While these can sometimes string together interesting scenes it is always best practice to reach out to writers and get an understanding for what kind of plot they’re interested in or where the overlap between characters can comfortably happen. Though they can inspire interesting threads they often end up as dead threads when the fire burns out. Strolling along in a shop and bumping into someone only makes for a brief interaction. What happens afterwards? Building the plot in advance gives you direction and purpose. It’s a great cure for a writer’s block as well to know what you are after when you’re writing.
  • Don't focus on the Rule of Cool; because there’s no growth in endless victories. Even if your character is meant to finish out the plot as a Territory Leader, they can get kicked out and then come back better than ever. Cyclical plotting is not a sin.
  • Don't try to force a square peg into a round hole. Not all plots that you want to write will fit this universe. There is no room for alien invasions, space cowboys, mermaids, etc. Be realistic when you propose plot concepts and be sure that they fit the definitions of the Blood, the worlds, and the cultures.


What did I miss?

What else would you consider a Do or Don’t? Reply to the Blog post with your Do’s and Don’ts! (5 points to all who participate!)[/list]
xx How to Plot
May 17, 12, 03:03:10 PM by Jamie


The Overview of How to Plot
Blood Rites is a community that thrives on our plots, sub plots, arcs and character relations. These all represent different elements of the RP life cycle. We have marketed ourselves as an “intermediate to advanced board” and I think that our biggest element that classifies us as an advanced board is how we go about plotting and weaving highly dynamic plots and concepts together.

That is our most powerful strength.

Plotting does not always come easily; it often takes quite a bit of work and planning to make everything fit into its designated place.

What makes a good plot?
This question will be revisited several times over throughout the length of this blog post; but let’s review it from a high level point of view.

A character is only as good as the plots they get involved with.
In fact this is such a key element to good plot that we created a whole Blog Article on the topic: Character Creation. These two topics go hand in hand significantly. An interesting conceptual character will create no traction without an accompanying plot.

Dynamic plots are compelling and save characters.
One dimensional plots have a defined level of interaction and a defined period of existence. These plots often fizzle out of existence or become invalidated when one element of the plot drops out (usually an inactive character or a writer's muse). By building multiple dimensional plots and allowing for continued growth on a plot scale (in addition to character scale) is the key element to writing a dynamic plot.

Compelling plots draw writers like moths to the flame.
Create elements that will attract writers to read and want to interact with the plot. The more a writer wants to be a part of the plot the more activity it will produce and the more interesting sub-arcs and spin-offs it will create. Plot should be treated like a living organism that needs life to be breathed into it in order to produce more.

An Example of all 3 Elements spun together.
The Myos Guild is a great example of how to create a plot element that is dynamic and compelling.

  • Plot: The Guilds have a strength of presence in the overall plot of Dena Nehele and due to their setup they also can interact with nearly any character that can create a plot to hire them.
  • Dynamic: Due to the circumstances of their inception and construction the Myos have a built in Dynamic element that involves interaction within the Guild, with Aristo clients, with other Guilds, and a level of personal growth.
  • Compelling: Between the Guilds, Politics, and the culture of undercutting and brutality to get ahead, the Myos Guild (and Guilds in general) have created a compelling plot that captures the interest of the writer and develops a strong plot while remaining true to the genre and AU.



Weaving Plot
Plot should be the amalgamation of several major elements, characters, and arcs. In the environment of an RP it should also be collaborative, flexible and provide conflict.

Make it Dynamic
The benefit to a dynamic plot is that it can continue to breathe and grow beyond any constraints of the original concept. This is particularly beneficial in the world of RPs. Two great examples of strong Dynamic Plots at Blood Rites are found in Dena Nehele and Dharo.

Dena Nehele
The levels of Dena Nehele’s plot allow for the entire Territory to thrive. It is a compelling plot that encompasses more than just the Court members and spiderwebs out to cover the Territory. The plot breaks down to 3 major areas: Court (full of intrigue and schemes), Guilds (full of danger and intrigue), and Aristos (full of petty intrigue and chess games). There is overlap between all 3 elements that allows them to exist alone and allows them to interact with one another.

Dharo
The success of Dharo’s plot is also owed to the built in levels; but keep in mind that these elements were later added to the Territory to create more dynamic elements. When a weakness is seen in a plot it is beneficial to find a way to fill the gap rather than to burn out the plot. The major plot hooks are the Court (with sub elements of the Recruiters, the Intrigue, the inter-Territory element with Little Terreille, and the 2 Queens) and the Spies (including the Spies, Eyes & Ears, and the Rampart Club).


Multiple Dimensions
Success for a plot (or character) can often be achieved by presenting the story with multiple angles. It is up to the writer and crafter of the plot to be able to weave multiple angles in together and find ways to bring plots together. A stand alone plot in a Territory often will fizzle out but if one manages to find a way to integrate the plot with others in the Territory to create a pattern of plot there will be success.

Example 1: Sister of a Main character? Sure! But what else?
Adoptions are very popular at Blood Rites and we always encourage them because it offers at least one angle of plot to the writer. However we have noticed that many people box themselves into that one role without creating the character to have multiple avenues of plot.

Consider the following concepts to create multiple dimensions:

  • Star crossed lover with the main character’s villain? Now we’re talking.
  • Sleeper agent spy for Territory? That’s interesting.


Example 2: Master of the Guard? Sure! But what else? What intrigue?
The roles we fill often have important value to the Territory or to a plot but sometimes we box our characters into a one dimensional space without consideration as to what else they can do within that role.

Consider the following concepts to create multiple dimensions:

  • Demons in the closet? Follow that path.
  • Love interest with the Spy Master? … Oh, hi Vance! <.< (MotG in Dharo)



Room for Growth
It is critical for all plots to have built in room for growth, expansion and development. The same can be said for the characters that are involved. Growth is not always a positive factor but there is need for the evolution of storyline and characters within any good plot.


Collaboration
RPs are meant to represent a collaborative and interactive environment. Though we have Plot Leaders at Blood Rites their role is meant to be advisory and provide directional plots for the Territory. Our own plots should always be a collaborative effort to encompass the overall Territory plot and to create a bridge between our own plots and those over others around us.

Two Heads are Better than One
This applies to plotting in a huge way. It refers to two equal heads who are collaboratively plotting and sharing ideas between them. Each idea is meant to build off the one before it and blossom into a greater plot. Working together often produces some truly great plot and some of the most interesting ones at Blood Rites have been conceptualized in this manner. It is important to note that collaboration means a shared and vested interest in the plot; and it does not refer to one head who relies on the other to produce and conceptualize the plot on their own and then hand out roles afterwards. The back and forth discussion and idea sharing of plotting is what makes RP writing unique and interesting. Plotting is about give and take.

Flexibility
Flexibility is the element of plotting that focuses on the ability of a writer to alter their plot or change it to facilitate incorporation or a change of path or pace. Flexibility is needed when aiming to create plots, managing plots or integrating plots. When plotting with another individual you should always understand that compromise is implicit with collaboration.

Integrating Plots
It is key to be willing to compromise on your concept to fit into existing plots. Flexibility is one of the key elements to good plot and plotting in RPGs. Without flexibility there often can be no collaboration. No one is obligated to play or plot with you; if you’re inflexible and stubborn you will kill plot.

Creating Plots
It is paramount to understand that not all plots are meant to exist in this world or in this alternate universe. The world we write in is complex and does not account for all the inspirations we might see within our everyday life. Learning how to compromise and remain flexible when considering these plots is the key to helping create a lasting plot.

Managing Plots
RPGs are living and breathing entities; characters come and go over the course of a single plot. The plot should always be able to accommodate the shift in these characters and should never be reliant on any one character to keep the wheels spinning. Since characters and plots shift over time there should be an allowance for flexibility concerning the addition of characters. A concept may come along later down the line that would fit in with a backstory (a nephew, for instance) who did not previously exist. Finding ways to incorporate that character into an existing backstory is a challenge but it will help provide more dimensions and integration points within the plot.


Conflict
Good plot always features conflict. The conflict can be externalized through a villain or force, or it can be internalized by one’s own demons or emotions. However it exists in a plot it always pushes for both plot and character development. All plots should face some kind of conflict.

It’s OK to Lose
A protagonist who gets everything they want is boring indeed. Put some struggle into your plots. It gets boring if your character wins every time. Challenge them. Challenge the plots and engage in conflict.

Villains Without Mustaches
Avoid using mustache twirling villains to inspire your conflicts. These only make the enemy very black; but when the enemy is gray you’ll discover an entire new plane of plot. (Avengers reference!) It’s easy to hate Loki when he’s rampaging through New York City; but it’s harder to hate him when you understand that his own struggles and hatred are derived from his childhood and circumstances of birth.

Inner or Outer, both hurt
Conflict can be derived from inner turmoil or outer turmoil. It can be a character flaw or an external influence. In fact it can come from both inner and outer directions at once!

Be Realistic
Give your character a realistic and fair adversary or struggle to overcome. If your villain is a Black Jeweled Black Widow and your hero is a White Jeweled Warlord Prince what will the realistic outcomes of that fight be? Don’t set yourself up to fail. On the flip side if the hero is the Black Jeweled Black Widow and the villain a White Jeweled Warlord Prince where is the true conflict taking place? You need to explore why the Black Widow simply wouldn’t wipe the pipsqueak Warlord Prince out of existence.


Success at Blood Rites

Reply to this Blog Post to nominate your favorite plot arc and the reasons you think it represents good plot. All nominations will gain you 10 points and there are no limitations to the number of nominations you make. Please try to use a minimum of 1-2 sentences to nominate.


Finally...

One final note: Plotting is always a 2 way street. You cannot rely on someone to give you plot. It should always be collaboratively created and brainstormed. Plot does not exist in a vacuum.

Many thanks to: Roma, Tal, Dani, Phedre, Dany and Kri for their selected input into this blog entry.

Keep your eyes peeled for the sequel post: The Dos and Dont’s of RP Plotting

xx We Want Feedback!
May 11, 12, 10:29:33 PM by Jamie

The Blog Team is looking for feedback from the community! Please feel free to reply to the post with your feedback or if you wish to remain anonymous you can submit through the Suggestion Box. We appreciate all feedback and the time you take to provide it to us. Anyone who participates will get a bonus 25 points for their efforts!

Please use the following form if you Reply to the Post:
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[b]4. What value do you receive from reading the Blog?[/b]
[b]5. Any other suggestions, feedback or requests?[/b]

Please use the following form if you use the Suggestion Box:
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4. What value do you receive from reading the Blog?
5. Any other suggestions, feedback or requests?

Going forward look for this link around the board (and permanently in the Credits sidebar box) to spark your feedback on topics!
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xx Overcoming Writer's Block
Apr 29, 12, 11:15:01 AM by White

Writing is an eb and flow of creativity. It is only natural then that over time we find that certain things eb the creativity while others create a flow. Typically the eb presents itself as a writer's block or as a muse demotivator.

Writer's blocks or muse strikes can be triggered by any number of external influences. Unfortunately these are not aspects of our lives that we can control. What we are capable of controlling is the methods and tactics we can use and leverage to overcome the blocks and strikes.

Overcoming a Writer's Block is not an easy feat. The most common contributors to this kind of block are:
  • Time Restrictions
  • External Stress
  • Shift in Moods
  • Loss of Interest


The list could go on so feel free to comment/reply with your own de-motivators! The short of it is that they suck, plain and simple.

So how do you beat them? How do you convince yourself to write even when every external element is slaughtering your every muse and creative cell?


Beating Writer's Block...

There is no magic wand, no miracle spell, or easy resolution on how to defeat Writer's Block. In truth it is an art form all of it's own. Part of the success to defeat a Writer's Block is through trial and error and discovering ways to coax your muse to write when it desperately does not want to.

At my request several members of our site (Dani, Jamie and Phedre) offered their own solutions in addition to mine. The next time you're suffering from a case of muse strike or writer's block take a gander to this thread and try our methods out for yourself.

  • Free Writing. This process involves sitting down at the computer and opening a blank Worddoc. It is very simple - release all your thoughts that pertain to a plot or character into the document. Time yourself for 5 minutes and just type. Take no breaks and write for 5 minutes straight. This will create a flow of concentration on the character or scene and often will provide lines or pieces that you can later leverage into a post. Feel free to share your free writing in the Plotting forums as a public place to get it all out.
  • Photo Prompted Free Writing. The beauty of using play bys is that they are actress or models who have a portfolio of photographs to peruse. Many times these photographs, or movie clips, will provide you with the kind of inspiration that it will take to write. Alternatively you can choose a scene from a movie or a still picture in which you complete the story. This kind of Free writing allows you to build a plot - or at least a thread - based on something visual. Often times the visual aid will help break the block.
  • Forgo Quality. Not every post that you write will be pulitzer winning material. The sooner you understand and embrace that the less writer's block will torment you. Sometimes you simply need to focus on writing to continue the story rather than writing to become a word smith. In an RP community there are many other writers who rely on your ability to continue spinning the story with them. If you stall so does the overall story and it creates a domino effect.
  • Reward Yourself. Not with points, those are intrinsic. Reward yourself with a little perk for everytime you write. Maybe that piece of chocolate you've been craving? Or the TV episode waiting on your DVR? Set the reward and watch your muse take flight.
  • Make a Schedule. Set a time each week - or day - where you will place yourself at the computer and write without distractions. Set a routine an follow it - this should help force you to write in a defined setting.
  • Shut Down Distractions. Turn off your messenger. Shut down your e-mail. Silence your phone. Put away all the communication distractions and take time to simply write. You will be amazed to discover that without all those friendly messages you might actually get more accomplished.
  • Music Inspiration. Several people suggested music as their cure to writer's block. Music can set the mood for a certain scene with just the right song. It can soothe the muses with the right notes. You could pick a song that is linked to the character you plan to write - or something that describes the character or a relationship between others in the thread. You could pick a song for the emotion or feel it evokes from you. Or choose a song because you connect with.
  • Start at the Middle. The start of a post is sometimes the hardest part to craft. Why not start in the middle? Or the end? Start where you have an interest to write and build outwards from there. Sometimes the dialogue itself can inspire the writing beyond it. Create a core for the post and work outwards from there.
  • Quote Inspiration. Whether it be for a title, a tagline, a signature or just as pure inspiration quotes can offer us a lot to work with. There are a ton of quote based sites out there. Search around and find something inspiring.
  • Graphic Inspiration. Take a few minutes to create a signature, or update your avatar. Sometimes graphic inspiration is just what the muse needs. A little refresher in graphics goes a long way for writer's block.
  • Forced Writing. Suck it up and write. This is in the same vein as "forgo quality" - but the "suck it up and write" category means for you to do just that. Don't think about it. Don't whine about it. Just write.
  • Re-Read the Thread. Often times inspiration can come from the source that you're pouring back into. Threads are written as a flow but if they've gone on for a period of time you might have forgotten the initial inspiration for that flow. A reminder of what has occurred to date in the thread and everything that entails can help provide significant inspiration.


What about you? Yes, you! The one reading this blog post. How do you beat writer's block? Go ahead and comment. We want to know!



Written by White - with assistance from Dani, Jamie, and Phedre
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
xx Character Creation: from concept to application
Feb 26, 12, 06:56:59 PM by Jamie

Character Creation truly takes part in two major steps; conception and application.

During conception you consider the overall idea of your character. There is a lot to consider when conceptualizing a character from scratch and under this section we have created three umbrella categories as types of character conceptualization that we typically see; character driven, plot driven, or adoptions.

During the application phase you work your character concept into an application form. This phase also covers any revisions necessary that are identified by the review team.


CONCEPT

There are 3 levels to character conception.

1. Character Driven - where a writer determines a type of character they want to write. Out of the blue I decide that I want to write a circus troupe! What happens next? With most writers they jump directly into creating a character to fit into the circus without fitting the circus into the mold of our AU world. Worse than that they have not identified how the circus subplot could interact with other plots or what the importance of their plot is to the board.

How to address Character Driven conceptions:
  • Writing and concepts cannot exist in a vacuum. The concept of an RPG is the interactive and integrated writing that occurs from collective plotting and conceptualizing. You need to always be aware of the surroundings that you're placing the character into and how, outside of the singular plot, they will be able to interact with others around them. On a larger scale you need to consider the interaction of the plot arc you've created with others around it too. If you find yourself stuck on a character concept that you want to write but cannot figure out how to integrate it you can always reach out to other writers and ask for help. We've all been there and an extra set of eyes might help you nail the plot (and maybe gain interest in it!).
Pitfalls to be mindful of with Character Driven conceptions:
  • Outside of the defined plot how will your character remain active and provide depth to the Territory and other plots around it.
  • Consider ways to entice other writers to play in your plot and interact with your character. Often by wrapping your character in a larger concept and offering generalized roles to support the plot and character you can gain more interest and plot. If you include specialized concepts with little room for development it is unlikely that you will find a writer interested in adopting the role or joining the plot. There is a fine balance with wanted ads to be achieved; a balance between a too vague concept to be adopted or a too specialized one where there is no room for creative license.



2. Plot Driven - where a writer determines a hole in a plot to fill with a character. This type of character is not usually defined by the plot leader but their role might have been created (Master of the Guard, Villain, etc). Most writers see a role and seek to fill it with a one off character they create on the spot without fully understanding the full implication of their character in the plot. Just because the character is filling a plot hole or plot need does not always mean that the plots available will be obvious to the writer. These types of characters are often retired after one or more associated characters vanish or become inactive. The plots are usually one dimensional.

How to address Plot Driven conceptions:
  • Always keep your mind and muse turned towards multidimensional plotting. Fulfilling just the single desired plot line will always back you into a corner with a character. The more subplots that you can develop for the character the longer they'll last even if the intended plot dissolves.
  • When fulfilling a role based adoption build multidimensional plot hooks into the character that gives them other avenues to progress with plot.
Pitfalls to be mindful of with Plot Driven conceptions:
  •   One dimensional plotting.
  •   If the request is too vague it is easy to plot a character that does not actually meet the requirements of the plot they're being involved in. It is always key to understand the dynamics of a plot before you begin conceptualizing; sometimes those dynamics can have averse (or beneficial) reactions to plotting.



3. Adoptions - where a writer adopts a specifically defined or named character from an established plot. These are very popular at Blood Rites and often do very well but there is a huge concern that when one of these characters is improperly adopted, abandoned or marked inactive it can have a negative affect on the plot progress.

How to address Adoption conceptions:
  • It is key to understand the plot and adoption requirements to a high degree before conceptualizing one of these characters. Often times there are nuances involved in these characters that may not just be known from the Wanted Ad (consider the Devlin siblings who have been NPC'd in several threads, those are key concerns).
  • Make sure that any subplots you create involving the character gels with the overall plot and other writers involved; it is key to make these characters multidimensional but the progress to do so is more convoluted since these are adoption requests.

Pitfalls to be mindful of with Adoption conceptions:

  • If the specifics required of the character do not mesh with your muse or your ability to write the character you should consider abandoning the request or coordinating with the other writer to get the request to a point where you can comfortably write it.
  • Though you are at the mercy of another player's wanted ad you still have control of this character so do not feel trapped by their request either.
APPLICATION

The application is often times is an overwhelming and lengthy process. While we do not expect to have the entire story of your character in one post we do expect to see the character represented well enough that we can understand motives and plot development for them.

Review Council's job is to assess the application and identify any potential issues in plot and to insure that the application matches the standards we expect from characters at Blood Rites (and yes, those standards are often high and are raised even further the darker the Jewel becomes or the more involved the application).

Key things to bare in mind on the application:
  • Avatar/Description: If there are any exceptions to the heritage of the character (eg. brunette Glacian or green eyed long lived) then you have to explain the reasons of the exception in the Description section and reflect it in History as well.
  • Age (long lived): If they have survived the Purge it should be a point in their History along with how they managed to survive it.
  • Does the character concept take into consideration any particulars pertaining to the Territory? (eg. Light Jewels in Glacia, Black Widows in Scelt, Dark Jewels in Chaillot, etc.)
  • Race: Are they a half breed? If so is it explained in their History and within the reason-ability of our plot?
  • Likes/Dislikes/Fears: Are there 3 each? Are they fleshed out with a minimum of 1 sentence? Do they balance each other out? Are they fluff or do they add value to the character?
  • Strengths/Weaknesses: If this section is filled out there should only be 2 or 0 of each and they should always match in count (eg. 0 strengths and 2 weaknesses is unbalanced)? Are the strengths/weaknesses balanced or is the character overpowered (eg. strength in shielding and fighting but weakness is hearth craft.. unbalanced.)?
Advanced application considerations:
  • With Dual Castes.. Does the character exhibit traits of both castes but also the combined traits of the castes? Does the concept of the character and the plot justify the need for a dual caste? Does the character read more heavily as one caste over the other without explanation?
  • With Dark Jewels.. Does the concept for the Dark Jewel mesh with the Territory they are from? Does the role of this character in society reflect the power of their Jewel (eg. Dark Jewels are more likely to be Court members than a street prostitute, etc.)?
Written by Jamie & White


xx Mary Sue and Gary Stu in Blood Rites
Jan 26, 12, 11:00:38 AM by Tal
As role players, what draws us to writing is our love of reading and the need to create characters of our own making, set them in a world and see them thrive.  We tell ourselves that some of these characters are “us” more than others, but in reality we know that all of our characters exhibit some of our personality traits.  In the end, we’re not just writing a character, we’re becoming that character and living through that character in a world that exists in our imagination. As role players, we take pride in affecting the world in which we have created characters, changing events, creating situations, and we watch to see how others respond to those situations. Our joy comes from playing the game, and here, as in all games, everyone gets a fair share of advantages and flaws; everyone wins and loses in balance… except Mary Sue and Gary Stu. 

Mary and Gary do not play fairly. Who are Mary and Gary? In the world of Blood Rites, we are given examples of these notorious creatures right from canon and though they work fine inside their own story, there  are reasons why both Jaenelle Angelline and Daemon Sadi would be horrible to play against, thus making them a Mary Sue and a Gary Stu respectively.

Jaenelle Angelline was Witch. She started her game off with a full set of uncut jewels of every color, as well as thirteen Black Birthrights and to top it all off, three castes.  Daemon Sadi was a natural Black Widow, absolutely beautiful, had a Black Offering, and was long lived.  The decks were stacked in their favor from the beginning.  Neither Jaenelle nor Daemon (let’s just call them Mary and Gary) had any flaws or faults that acted as significant obstacles in anything they wanted.

In a sense, there really was no reason for them to change.  But in a roleplaying environment, one of the ways in which we measure RP and the game itself is in the way characters change and evolve.  This is what people do in reality too and that is why as role players it becomes so important to us in telling the stories that we do.

So how then, do we avoid making these characters that no one wants to play with? There are aspects that both Jaenelle and Daemon exhibited that are typical of Mary’s and Gary’s.  Compiled, is a list of some examples as to what makes a character so obnoxious, as to be deserving of the name Mary and Gary. 

The Mary Sue is a perpetual victim.   Mary is generally abused as a child, often sexually, or raped by someone who doesn’t know just how special she is. As she grows up there are people who feel the need to victimize her, generally in some sexual way and often by the people who are closest to her. 
  • Jaenelle is sent to live at Briarwood as a child.
  • She’s raped at 10 years old.
  • She’s raped again when she goes to Little Terreille and drugged.
  • Daemon was used as a sex slave for centuries.

The Mary Sue is always perfect.  Mary is everything you could want in a woman, just as Gary is everything you want in a man. Their quintessentially genderized nature is only eclipsed by their incredible innocence(for a woman) or by their sexual prowess (for a man).  They are both incredibly kind and horribly dangerous. They are kind to strangers, beloved by animals and adored by all who meet them. (Except the villain of course.)
  • Jaenelle never slept with any man except for Daemon.
  • Her kindness extended even to the grandmother who put her in Briarwood but the depth of her vengeance was felt by the Briarwood men for generations.
  • Daemon’s sexuality is the scary too hot to handle type. He literally roasted women in their beds.

A Mary Sue is sometimes tragic .  Despite their being so special and someone you’re supposed  adore at first glance, somehow Mary and Gary keep suffering.  They carry the unmendable  wounds of their lives like trophies, contrasting their perfection with ultimate tragedy and pain that they could only go on from, picking up whatever tattered remains of their once perfect selves still exist.
  • Jaenelle creates a witchstorm that breaks her body and nearly kills her and then when she comes back from it, she’s never able to have kids and seems too skinny and too fragile.
  • Daemon betrays everyone in his entire family and then is ostracized by the entire First Circle for what he’s done.
  • The woman Daemon’s waited his entire life for is destroyed in her own witchstorm and he’s left alone again! After living almost 2000 years as a virgin in his wait for her.

Mary’s and Gary’s are almost boring characters.  Characters we consider exciting are those that don’t have answers come easily to them. When we can see the character as being realistic and realistically needing to overcome their internal obstacles in order to gain the goal we want for them, then they become exciting. Cassidy only discovered the treasure because she stayed when she wanted to go. She founded a new territory because she was afraid of war and had low self-esteem. Our characters finding new ways of doing things are how we find them exciting. When a character reverts to the same exact way of defeating anything they come across, they are no longer exciting.
  • Jaenelle’s way of stopping “the war” wasn’t to deal with Hekata and Dorothea but to slam the entire realms with her raw power, something she does over and over again in the books.
  • Daemon’s response to getting his father out of the witch’s hands who were lighter jeweled than him was to seduce his father…

Overdone and overpowered. Mary’s and Gary’s are known for having a lot more power than they actually need.  Often this need for excessive raw power is done because the writer needs a reason to overcome whatever obstacles she has in mind for the character and instead of creatively creating solutions, she falls back on raw power.  While raw power is attractive, it  often renders a villain useless, thus destabilizing the entire story. Every answer could be found at the bottom of a character’s abyss.  When the use of this raw power becomes an easy answer, it undermines what could amount to a brilliant story.
  • Jaenelle didn’t need to figure out a constructive end to the war, she just used her raw power.
  • Daemon didn’t figure out a way to get out of his ring of obedience, he used raw power.
  • Jaenelle didn’t need to be a healer, there was no story arc where she as a healer was imperative and could not have been replaced.
  • Daemon never used the power of his Black jewel even when he should have, thus rendering it superfluous. 

Mary Sue is always cliché and this is a big part of what makes her so obnoxious.  Often Mary Sues can be summarized in easy clichés.  The poor girl who no one loved as she was growing up.  The rich girl who didn’t let her wealth go to her head. The ugly duckling, who doesn’t know how beautiful she is.  Although many of the stories we know and love are clichéd, they often have their own twists or details that change the story enough to make it new.  When a Sue is clichéd, her story is done badly with often very typical outcomes.  No one wants to play when they already know the outcome of the story.
  • Daemon is a rogue who can turn anyone on (including his family members) but can’t be turned on by anyone except his true love.
  • Jaenelle was the stereotypical “mama bear”, uncaring if something horrible was done to her  but the second someone breaks the nail of someone she cares about, then it’s all out war.

If there’s someone special or exceptional in the story, you can be assured you’ve found your Sue.  Mary and Gary are always the exceptions to the rule.  If the law of gravity says you can’t fly, you can be assured that Mary can do it. If people aren’t allowed to read, Mary Sue can do it.  Mary Sue can do anything and usually all at once. She’s a wonderful fighter, but she’s also the smartest verbal debater you’ll find.  She’s the fastest runner, she’s a secret dancer, and she knows or sees things no one else can.  Although everyone in a story is special in some way, Mary Sue is special in every way.  When you say you can do something, Mary Sue is the one saying she can do it better.
  • Jaenelle was apparently SO good at Eyrien fighting that she was able to go toe to toe with Lucivar.
  • Jaenelle was SO good at healing she was able to repair Lucivar’s wings that were damaged beyond repair.
  • Jaenelle was so good at shadows she was able to create them in Hell in living color!
  • Daemon was so dangerous, he was actually a Black Widow.
  • Daemon is so rich, he can afford to finance an entire territory.

And most importantly, a Mary Sue is always a version of wish fulfillment.  Everyone wants to be perfect, beautiful, smart and exceptional.  In a part of our minds, we all want to be the hero of our own stories.  When it comes to roleplaying though, a real writer will tell you that their characters are their own people with probably more flaws than you could count.  A person who is writing because they want to escape reality and simply be perfect in fiction where they can’t be in real life, will write a Mary Sue and become incredibly attached to this perfect creature with a tragic past. 
  • It wasn’t enough for Anne Bishop to write three books about Jaenelle and Daemon, she needed to have them in their own mini-plot in Shadow Queen and in Shalador’s Lady.
  • That wasn’t enough either, Bishop had to keep going with Dreams Made Flesh and Twilight’s Dawn.

If the character is too much, or if you feel too personal about the character, it might be evidence that you’re going down the path of the Mary Sue.  And while to you the character is wonderful, truly someone you would like to know and be, remember that this is in part, why no one else would want to play with him or her.  No one should be perfect and no one should be flawless. The world is made up of real people and to play a good game, we strive to make our RP reflect exactly that.

xx An Introduction to the Writers' Resource Blog
Dec 19, 11, 01:16:26 PM by Jamie

The Writers' Resource Blog is a new project that Blood Rites will be fully launching in the new year. I am truly excited to talk about the heart of the project and how we developed the idea and intend to implement it.

The goal is to create a blog that is a value add to our community and allows us to share our tips and tricks for writing; this includes writing in general or writing specific to our community.

This is a blog for our members and by our members but it will touch topics that will sometimes be greater than our site. I'm hoping it attracts other followers but the biggest win is that this will be an additional resource for our community to leverage when writing, plotting or creating characters. We'll also use this vehicle and venue to discuss potential seminars and to follow up seminars with our notes and articles.

The team, at the moment, who will be writing consist of myself (Jamie), Tal, Dani and Ariana.

If you have a request (or suggestion) for a topic feel free to email staff+blog@bloodrites.net and we'd love to take requests!

Wish us luck but I suspect that this will be one fun project!
xx Writers' Resource Blog
Dec 06, 11, 10:57:35 AM by Dani
Launching Soon!
Stay Tuned to Announcements for Updates.
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