Why Writers Should Roleplay

It’s no secret that I love to roleplay. I’ve written posts on it before here and here but consider this a more up to date post. One of the things I’m determined to start blogging about more this year is writing. Not just my own, but tips and places that could help other people too.

For me, one of the things that have helped my writing grow steadily over the years is roleplay. It’s helped me in many different ways and I’ve learned that there are many different forms of roleplay. And I think they can all help in some way.

It’s not just writing every day that’ll help you improve, though that’s one way online roleplaying can help!

Whether you choose to LARP (live-action roleplay for those not in the loop), play DnD or some other form of tabletop campaign or write with friends online, roleplay can be a fun hobby that’s not only a creative way to use your brain but is a fun time-waster too.

Characters

This is probably the most obvious way that all forms of roleplay can help you with your writing.

Character is something I find incredibly easy to work on. And when talking to friends who both write and roleplay, they all feel the same way too.

When you roleplay you create, or take on, a particular character or a few. You don’t have to worry about NPCs as much and in some form of roleplay not at all. Your main focus unlike when you’re writing a book or a story is your one character. You may have to decide stats via dice rolls, be limited by what you know about the world or have a profile skeleton to fit in but you can basically do what you like.

This is your character and before you can even get involved with anything you need an idea of personality, appearance, backstory etc. Other stuff you’ll find you come up with as you go along and interact with other characters.

That’s the beauty of it I find. Your characters grow and change with your interactions but you have no control over how the interactions are going to go. You may have set relationships of all kind as you go but a twist to another character’s story, even if plotted, could lead you to feel a different way about your character and that will change them too.

Character is an integral part of roleplay and integral part of any kind of storytelling. Having limitations in place with what you can do and learning the world with your characters can really help you learn to think on your feet when you’re writing characters and that’ll make it easier when you go on to write a lot of different but realistic characters in a story.

Worldbuilding

So, if you’re only joining roleplays this might not help as much. And I don’t think it’s something you can really do when you’re LARPing. Unless you’re just playing make-believe with a couple of friends like when you were kids. Not done it in my years myself but I think it could still be fun!

But when you’re an rp admin or a DM/GM or whatever your form of roleplay refers to you as world-building is something you’re doing before the game has even started.

You need to have an idea of how the world works. You don’t want to go into a lot of detail, as you want your players to be able to build in it and help you change it as they go along. But you need to have locations in mind, leaders and whatever else is important. If you’re expecting to have characters from certain temples then you’ll want to think about the religions etc. As long as you have some idea of what your world should look like and you’ve shared it with your players, you’re good.

But that can be hard.

Like I said, you need it to be open so your players, or you as a player, can help change it as you go along. There’s something so fun about an rp partner deciding they’re from a location and then your character gets to visit it later. In the only group roleplay I have currently, I came up with most of the world. Extra locations were added on by a friend who redesigned the map but other friends have created other countries their characters have come from and the one who drew the map added a village onto the country I made up and pretty much every aspect of that village is down to them. Anywhere else in the country I’m asked questions about, their village is all down to them and we now have other characters who came from there and a species of animal that lives there and now travels with the characters.

It’s once again a mix of thinking of these things before you actually sit down to write and then thinking on your feet with the help of other people when you can change or add things.

Worldbuilding is important even when you’re writing in a contemporary setting. You may have to research an area or set it in a made-up school or whatever. But you still need to be prepared to plan these things beforehand so you at least have an idea of what your characters are walking into and you need to be prepared to change it if necessary.

That’s where roleplay helps.

Learning Your Style

This section is specifically with written roleplay in mind but you can still learn about what you enjoy including character and storyline-wise in DnD and LARPing as well. Written roleplay is just where my personal experience lies.

Basically, roleplay is a good way to get writing practice in. If you enjoy doing script style rp then you may want to move into writing script. Radio plays, screenplays, stage plays, comic scripts…whatever. There are lots of different ways to tell a story in script form and though script roleplay is often looked down upon, it is quick and easy and something you can do with a friend with just an IM window or a pen and paper. Writing actual scripts is hard but if you can get used to showcasing characters individual voices whilst roleplaying that way, then you’re off to a good start.

Generally, you can look at roleplay as writing practice. It’s still fun, still something you’re doing as a hobby and if you get bored you can stop whenever. But you can try out different writing styles. You can see if you’re good at descriptive scenes or action scenes. You can see if dialogue is your strong point and whether you tend to write long or short paragraphs.

I’ve roleplayed with people who write much better when they stick to a few sentences than when they try to extend it out to longer paragraphs to be a higher level of rper. They’d be better sticking with the short stuff and then slowly growing that. Writing a lot of short sentences and paragraphs rather than trying to move on to write longer paragraphs. And that can still work in short stories and books. It still counts!

Roleplaying is very much a hobby but I see so many people acting like they aren’t a good writer if they can’t write certain scenes or a long enough reply or whatever. And that sucks and it isn’t true.

We all have different strengths and weaknesses as writers and roleplaying can help highlight that so when we do go to write something longer, even if it’s just fanfiction, we know what areas to focus on and where we can improve. Not being able to write amazing action scenes or long replies doesn’t make you a bad writer. It just means that maybe like me your writing is a little better fitted towards rom-coms or something else contemporary. Hell, thrillers rely on short sentences to keep things on edge and you don’t need action if it’s a political thriller. See what I mean?

Roleplaying Can Help

I’m not going to tell every writer that you need to roleplay. It’s not a necessity and you don’t even have to want to be a writer to do it. It’s just a fun, creative hobby. But it can help and you never know where your next book or story idea is going to come from.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner was originally a 1 x 1 roleplay by them. My first completed novel was set in a world that I created for a group roleplay and later expanded upon for a book. I have a system of gods in my current group roleplay that I’m desperate to write something on.

Roleplaying is a fun thing to do and I highly recommend just going for it if you’re curious. Whether you want to do something original or based in a fandom you love. Whether you’re looking to dress up and become your character, roll dice and sit at a table (or online) with others or to pull out a keyboard and lose yourself in essentially writing a story with other people, there’s plenty to do and plenty of places to do it.

I’ve been roleplaying online since I was 11, I’ve done it across 5 different IM platforms, six different types of website/social media platforms and have also written script rp with friends at school when bored. It’s something I adore doing and though I’ve only just gotten back into it properly, I hope to do for a long time.

Have you ever roleplayed before? Would you be interested in any sort of rp? Wanna listen to a DnD podcast by YA authors that I love listening to and made me actually want to try DnD at some point? Let me know down below.

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