Welcome to Rehab for Roleplayers, a series of articles aimed at helping roleplayers more successfully make the transition into writing fiction.
Introduction: How to Spot a Drow Illusionist
I can identify a habitual roleplayer from fifty paces. Those who've been spooked by my asking whether they're a roleplayer within ten seconds of reading their fiction will know what I'm talking about.
"But how did you know?" they gasp. When I'm done chuckling, I explain that I know they are a roleplayer, because they write like a roleplayer.
There's usually a pause, then, while the writer decides to what degree they're going to feel offended by this statement, and/or wonders whether I've been stalking them, before they pose the next question: "What, exactly, do you mean by that?"
What I mean is this: roleplayers almost invariably share the same basic writing habits, and some of these habits stand out as flaws in their non-RP material.
Many people develop their interest in writing via roleplay, and then a desire to write outside of that sphere as their RP skills grow past a certain point. The problem in transitioning from RP to fiction is that RP teaches people writing habits that simply don't wash in the real world of writing.
What makes these habits difficult to both identify and to shake is that they are generally learned by osmosis; the roleplayer does not deliberately or consciously learn them, but assimilates a set of habits over a period of time as they seek to become a better roleplayer, and strive to gain the esteem of their peers in the roleplay world.
The fact is, a great roleplayer does not need to be a great writer. While the best roleplayers are inherently, even obsessively, concerned with language, they still gain their successes in an area where the rules of publication-standard fiction do not apply.
In this series, I aim to help roleplayers identify these tell-tale habits so that they may, in doing so, eliminate those which are affecting their capacity to write fiction.
The language of RP is not the same as the language of fiction. The structure of a great RP is not the same as the structure of a novel or a short story. For the purpose of these articles, I have divided the relevant RP habits into two categories: language and structure.
In Part One, I'll begin the discussion of language, and identification of those RP habits which I have observed to be problematic in fiction.