Collaborative Storytelling or in another name Role Play (hereon written as RP). What is it?
When most people hear RP, their initial thought goes to D&D. Role a dice, you have your character, there is a plot, a story, and levels to attain. You act as your character, speaking (or writing) the lines they would speak. Saying (or writing) what they do and how they act.
This is not RP to me.
RP to me is story telling in the form of worlds created in forums or threads. You write with others, and develop your character by yourself, and plot with others. There is no rolling of a dice. In fact, often there is little communication on plot in general, other than the general plot.
I started with this form of RP back when I had no business being on the internet and talking to strangers online. I started on a website called Crunchyroll. Now little do most people know, but Crunchyroll forums used to be filled with this. Groups for AVIs and GIFs, to talk about shows, and to do role playing. Not of characters from shows, but your own characters, in made up worlds. Most forums died very quickly, and I found myself on Mangafox Forums. It was here that my growth as a writer and storyteller blossomed.
On Mangafox (hereon: MF) there were groups, and a group was dedicated to a plot. In the group there were threads, for locations, and character creation. I met many people on this site many of whom I am still friends with, and was involved in many stories. I learned fast how to change my dismal spelling and sentence structure. I grew.
The method of RP is this. One person writes a post with their character, and if you are involved in the scene, you reply. If not, you can continue on in another scene, on your own, in a different thread, you name it. At first I was a person who posted of what we call “one-liners.” Simple responses grew from that, due to stipulations of “5 sentences minimum per post” in some groups I joined. From there became paragraphs. From there became what is how I RP today. That has reflected in on my writing as well, although the method style varies greatly.
As MF forums died, and before it even, I became a part of OnexOne RPs. These are RPs where you play with only one other. They are less chaotic than group RPs. You also have control over almost everything. You get to world build, character build, bounce ideas off with your (typically singular) partner, and create. The only thing you don’t know, is how your partner will post, and what new plot points will jump up.
When MF died, I joined Role Play Nation (hereon: RPN). Currently I am a part of two OnexOnexOne RPs on RPN, with one of my MF friends. I also am working on an additional OnexOne with said friend that we will be posting elsewhere.
This is Collaborative Storytelling. Because for all intents and purposes, it is not really how others define RP. The way I “RP” is by building a world, characters, and a plot. We have plot points and a general guide of where we want to go with the story. We talk about details, and confirm on information before posts. Posts are always still a treat, because the true content is never known but there is a solid direction. There is a generalized end goal even if we don’t know how it will end for certain. We run ideas by each other, and talk for hours on plot points that may or may never happen. We are working to build a story together.
I have found many OnexOnes can be like this, in truth.
To say we are Role Players is to say writers are as well. We may be taking on a character, but we are still building the world. We still have “NPCs.” This is not “simplistic writing” and this is not D&D. We are writing stories. We are collaborating on stories. There may be different voices to the project, unlike books written by two or more authors, but it is one story. Novel writers take on the mask and history of their characters as well. They take the world of their story and their characters, but they have sole control. We do not.
Things that RP has taught me:
- Spelling and spelling checks
- Better base grammar (not always perfect but better)
- Sentence structure
- How to take criticism
- How to take edits
- How to take hate of my character
- How to better build characters and worlds
- How to communicate plot through writing
- How to communicate history through writing
- Continuity, historically and plot wise
- Confidence in my writing
So yes I RP, but I like to think of it as Collaborative Storytelling. To me it is not much different than writing a book. I may not be published as a writer, but I have writing to show for myself.
But if Collaborative Storyteller is too pretentious for you, then call me an RPer. I’m cool with that, because it’s the truth as well. I just like to make the distinction.