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Distinguishing RP types

Roleplayers make up a large part of the community here on deviantArt. It's an ever-growing community, and new members join it every day. Thirsty for adventure, these new members leap into the large world of roleplay, blissfully simplistic, filled with hopes and anticipations. They expect a rich roleplay experience full of excitement, and they want it to be delivered!

New members, however, also means less experience, and less experience means less knowledge. That knowledge which new roleplayers need to acquire may be earned in the long run, by partaking in several satisfying and unsatisfying roleplays and learning through trial and error what is right and what is wrong to include in one. I have taken that path, and I can say that it's a hard place. Some people, even after several years, haven't even made as much progress as would have been expected; they just can't get the hang of it. I have decided to let anyone who so desires take an alternate path, a shortcut to avoid the trouble of being dissatisfied with as many roleplays as I have been. This shortcut takes the form of several tutorials, each of these tutorials equalling one step on the shortcut, which in turn equals a dozen steps on the long path.

Now that the introduction is over (am I the only one who thinks it was long?), I will begin on the tutorial itself. I would like to open with a simple concept. Many people already know about it, but some of the newer roleplayers might be unaware of it. The first subject will be the distinction between the two roleplay types which people can use: script-style and paragraph-style.

Script style

This style is also known as "bracket RP" or "casual RP", among other names.  As the name "casual RP" implies, this type of roleplay is accessible to everyone. The reason for this is that it's easy to grasp and easy to start. However, script-style roleplays will rarely offer much character development or plot advancement; it's usually used as a "pick-up-and-go" roleplay for fooling around. The posts in a script-style roleplay will usually start with the name of the character which will be involved in the post, followed by dialog and action done by that character, and possibly, in-between the name of the character and the dialog, an emotion, most often in parentheses, with which the dialog will be spoken and the actions done.
To assist me in my quest to improve the general level of roleplays, I have created an assistant. Her name is Kara Chter. Let's meet her right now in a script-style post to concretely demonstrate what exactly script-style is:

Kara: (shy) Hi... *fiddles with the edge of her shirt*

This style of roleplay, as mentioned before, is casual; it doesn't require any amount of skill to play, except maybe the ability to make your posts legible enough for everyone else to understand. Because of that, this guide will not focus on "how to roleplay script-style". It will rather focus on the second type of roleplay.

Paragraph style

This style, also known as "formal RP", "mid-long post RP", etc., is much more intricate than script-style, and has much more potential for setting an atmosphere and describing actions and thoughts than its casual counterpart. This is what most people will say was meant to be true roleplay; writing a story collectively with one or more other people, each person using one or more character to make the story advance. People who roleplay with this style need a certain amount of concentration and attention to detail when writing. Roleplayers using this style want to make their posts look as though they were excerpts of a novel.

The posts in a paragraph-style roleplay need to be detailed enough to set a certain mood, although exceptions exist. This style most of the time requires a linear scenario, some sort of concrete plot. Sometimes, people will develop it as they go, needing only a setting to begin writing, and other times, people will decide part, if not all of the plot before even beginning on the first post. The latter can take up several hours – if not days or weeks – of planning before actually beginning, and will often feature longer early posts and a better starting morale from the players, since they already know what will happen; it leaves less room for uncertainty and moments when neither player will know what to do and would just make their characters speak with each other without much action going on. Planning lets the roleplay deliver action at a rhythm which every player is able to handle. Let's have Kara Chter introduce herself again, this time in paragraph-style:

A woman stands in the center of the plain, unfurnished room. Her appearance is veiled by an indescribable fog, letting only her outlines and actions be visible; she appears to be of average size, and her arms, resting on either side of her body, allow her hands to tug nervously at the bottom of her shirt. "Hi..." she says in a timid voice.

It's undeniable that a lot more content is present in this version of the same post; it may require more effort, but it's worth it; the amount of detail dished out by this style if done correctly often prevents people from getting confused. That will prevent posts in which the last actions of the other character would be completely ignored, or posts that overlook certain crucial details. For example, I've tried making this last post as clear as possible (although still somewhat short) by describing the surroundings, what the others can see about my character, and her actions, so that my partner wouldn't wonder "where is this happening? what can my character see about this other character? what is the character doing exactly?" and wouldn't assume wrong. Though it may be difficult at first, experience should teach most people how to underline details in order to make the other player(s) notice it and have their character(s) respond accordingly.

That's all there is to distinguishing between script style and paragraph style. It's simple enough, but had to be made first, since some script-style roleplayers may not even know what paragraph-style roleplay is; this first "How to Roleplay" hopefully put some light on the subject.
Hm'well, this is my first tutorial. I didn't want to start with something too big or implying that the reader has any more knowledge than what roleplaying is, since I'm supposed to be writing this for newbie roleplayers.

If I made a mistake or forgot to mention something about anything, feel free to comment about it. I'll make sure to edit to include what's missing.

This guide is copyrighted to ~DummysGuideForRP.
You are authorized to link to this page from any site, but you may not claim this as your own.
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snowfang123 Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Student Artist
I might have to try script RP sometime ^^
Arceus55 Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm scared to start RPing now. O_O
TheDuckParade Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is cool! May I use this As a reference in my group?
Skunkyfly Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
woah! thank you,,, this is really helpful! We join some RP group and dunno how to RP LOL. thanks! 
nhprodigio Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for this, I was actually the opposite way around though lol I know how to paragraph RP quite well, but when I heard a friend say they liked script-rp I was like "wait, how do you do that exactly?" and had to look it up pfff....
booglybear Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2014   Traditional Artist
Huh. Interesting.
rsdo456a Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I prefer paragraph rps uwu
EasyRightOverCrest Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014
I suck at paragraphs, I prefer the faster, script one.
UchihaNudge Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014
The best thing to do when you're first trying out paragraph RP, is to tell whoever you're rp'ing with so they can sort of guide you through it until you get the grips of it.
fairehfun099 Featured By Owner Edited Aug 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
We'll I guess I'm Lit/Para then, haha. 
Ratchetpower2 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014
I've had no experience with a paragraph RP, just script RP
yemto Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I usually match the style of those that I RP with, but I must say that I'm not that good with the paragraph style.
everdeen127475 Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Student Writer
I tend to do the Para RP Most of the time, but i will do a casual script RP every once and a while :D
MsTakoyama Featured By Owner Edited Jun 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Sometimes I switch between both styles.. not sure why. But I do end up naturally using script RP if I'm doing something silly and non story related
SilverSketch13 Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
but what about drawing RPs?
Avaquaire Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
When I roleplay, it's kinda like a cross between the two. When my main RP group roleplays with Dialogue & actions it's script-style, though we do have a setting for the RP. When describing scenery, it has a kind of paragraph-style to it.
vanessaskydragon Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thanks you 
greenpower12 Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2013  Student
I thought this was very helpful, but I still have 1 question. Where do u DO a RP?
Creepy-PokemonArt Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014
There are plenty of websites! I know is a Homestuck Roleplay website! And if you have and I-device an app called Drawcast usually has some random ones open. Anyway just google random ones, you'll be sure to find some!
greenpower12 Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014  Student
XD The comment I made was old and not needed anymore, but thanks anyways! :hug:
wolf-spirit00 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Good little tutorial. If you ever wish to elaborate, you could explain the more detailed kinds of RP style. 
Keep in mind, this is coming from a retired novella roleplayer. So I may be a bit bias but I would say its still rather accurate.

-Script style. Good for the inexperienced or those just wanting to have a short romp. Can't be used for an in depth story. In all honesty I personally fine it juvenile to believe this is a good form of writing - it simply is not constructive. (I've used it to play around quite often but there's not a plot and often not serious. When a script style story is starting to get serus it often gets switched into multipara) However, it is good for if one plans on making a comic out of the story.
:::: Jane: *blushes* Um, hi. *taps fingers on chair*

-One line. Also for the inexperienced. This forms sentences though so usually indicates that one wishes for it to be more in depth. However it doesn't even convey properly completed thoughts so is, again, for beginners. 
::::Jane blushed, "Um, hi." She tapped her fingers on the chair.

-Semi- para. Still inexperienced. One or two sentences but not a full 5 sentence paragraph either. It can convey a thought, however undetailed. 
::::Jane blushed, "Um, hi..." She tapped her fingers on the chair. She was nervous as to what to do or say. She waited for him to say something next. 

-Para. About a standard paragraph long. Consisting of 3-5 full sentences. A full thought is created. This is often for those who are getting more skill. It's not as detailed as it could be but it's got some. It's also often used by experienced role players in a slow section of the story or if the various participants of the story are all able to reply immediately. 
::::Jane blushed a little, "Um... Hi..." she tapped her fingers on the chair, waiting for him to say something. She was nervous, not sure what to do. She didn't want to say something to upset him, but she was afraid something bad might happen if she stayed silent. 

Multi para. 2-5 paragraphs long. Experienced role players and generally the standard for a good story. Detailed but not overly so. The participants know how to lead and morph the story without godmodding. Complete thoughts are given. Not only actions are described but thoughts and feelings, similar to a regular story. 

Novella. Highest experience and usually rather rare to come by. Can make a 6+ paragraphs in a single reply without godmodding or drawing things out. Keep note, novella writing usually combines multipara. The lengthy replies as used more for times that include back story, heavy action, inner thoughts, ext. 

Everyone goes through each phase. It's just when their skill level or interest stops is where they remain at. Many people stick at script style simply because they haven't the skill or are to lazy to write out full paragraphs. 
I admit I may sound harsh to script and one liners. But that's because they killed the RP world. It's so hard to find any role players in a fandom that I'm interested in that can push out more than one friggen sentence. *fumes*
L-yre Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
TheDuckParade Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Novella… sounds cool but also sounds like a good way to annoy other rp'ers if used incorrectly… congrats if you were able to successfully use it
wolf-spirit00 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I'm not entirely sure how you mean it would be a good way to annoy others... being a novella writer means you're highly skilled and know how to write very well. Unless you mean those who claim they're novella but they aren't... and rather than paragraphs of details and storytelling you get a bunch of unrelated babbling. That's annoying, but only happens when someone who isn't skilled at writing tries to claim they're novella.
TheDuckParade Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If used incorrectly as in super repetitive and straight up babbling is precisely what I meant, multi-para is fun but can also be troublesome when done that way. (PS: no one-liners here XD)
bluevelvetwings Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Mostly "novella" type RPers are gonna be ALL "novella" writers, at least in my experience! So it's not really annoying to other writers because everyone's doing it - in general it's not like a "novella" type RPer is RPing with a script person. There aren't a heck of a lot of us super verbose writers on deviantART, though, so if you're looking for examples you might have to stray over to forums and stuff. 

I'm replying to your comment because you seem interested and because not too many people around here know much about that kind of RPing, and I dislike misinformation 8D Hope it's informative! 
TheDuckParade Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Usually if I do multiple paragraphs, it's 3 maximum as I don't have contact with many others into lengthy role-play… and thank you for replying as well. Usually one paragraph is the most I can get out of the other people I role-play with.
AskTheBagMan Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
I started with scripts, and after a long bit of RPing, I've decided that a couple lines long is pretty well. Once things get into more than a paragraph things get too lengthy and start to become third person omniscent
Axel1996 Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013
I don't mean to insult your tutorial, but be careful, you seem to be talking down Script Style and talking up Paragraph Style. They both have advantages and disadvantages, though people usually have one preference or one they prefer but one isn't necessarily better than the other.
Annamay168 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013
I've done an experiment of writing half my stories in paragraph format versus script format to see which is more effective. However, none of the six stories I've written were roleplays and they all started of as script-style (simply because all six comics were written before I decided to write them down before drawing them. The format appears to have no effect on how well the stories turn out, but I will point out a couple reasons why that seems to be:

Paragraph format:

I picked the paragraph stories based on which stories would be the most fitting in this format: A Character POV story, a caretaking story, and a gratuitous story. Obviously POVs are much more fitting in the paragraph format because the script-format in and of itself is pretty objective. It is possible to write a script story in first person, but I can imagine that it would be very difficult.
As for caretaking, that would be near impossible in script format simply because babies would not have much dialogue. The only thing I could possibly write is what they do all the time.
And the gratuitous story, I haven't started because I will simply because it'll be fun to hear all the details. :D

Script format:

Basically chosen just because the other stories worked out better in Paragraph. However, with one story, I used the script format simply because my Spanish is not advanced enough to write in paragraph form. As far as character development goes, I just started on my experiment, so I cannot tell you if the script does or does not stunt character development. But based on the Spanish roleplay alone (only roleplay in which I used original characters), I will tell you that it is still possible to advance the plot and develop the characters. The author just has get in the heads of his or her characters, and play it out accordingly.

Yes, the script format is easier to use than the paragraph format, but that does not mean there is no skills involved. To make the script interesting, the roleplayers need to have improvisational skills, minimal writing skills (enough to be understood like you said), and creativity. The characters would have to have a clear goal and all the roleplayers in question must create obstacles to make the goal difficult to achieve. The most interesting would be to have the roleplayers have conflicting goals. If they can manage to come to a conclusion without god-moding or overstepping boundaries, they might actually come up with a very interesting roleplay, especially if the characters form and break alliances and learn from each other.

As long as the roleplayers can differentiate from themselves and their characters, what they know versus what their characters know, and have the ability to write outstanding dialogue (as script roleplays are dialogue-centered), they will be able to write a good roleplay with plenty of character development.

When I write at least ten pages to each story (with the exception of the Spanish one because I'm only required to write two or three pages), I will tell you how the experiment went. :D
PurpleChaos Featured By Owner May 16, 2013
indeed. I usually use script style, but with details and clarity
Annamay168 Featured By Owner May 16, 2013
That right there is an effective style. :D I found that if I'm writing my own stories, I would sometimes add detail in script stories so I can remember the context and get into the characters' heads. :D I once did this so a comic sequence would be easier to draw.
Mango--Princess Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh this is a good guide!
I have a rp group and since some people use just one type of rp and haven't heard of the other, can I put a link to this on the character app? :meow:
BakuB Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2010
I'm a paragraph style Role Player, never done script style, but there are pluses and negatives for both types.
DummysGuideForRP Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2010
I know that script-style is simpler and easier, but paragraph-style is more complete and more... constructive, for lack of a better term.

Some people prefer to roleplay with script-style, but those people don't really need to be taught how do do their thing since they don't need to follow a plot most of the time, nor do they need to have that much attention to detail. :P

Of course, I'm not saying "you must roleplay with paragraph-style", far from that... ^^; People can roleplay any way they like, but I'm here to help if they decide to play paragraph-style.
BakuB Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2010
Yup, I realize that. :D Just commenting.
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