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Guide to Roleplaying by Professor Logan


What is a role play?


A role play, or RP for short, much like drama and scripts are meant to be seen. RPs often resemble wrestling promos, interviews, sketches, etc. With time, RPs have taken a life on their own by showing the characters in settings different from what you would see in a normal wrestling show. RP writers should never be held back by trying to stick to a strict wrestling theme, on the contrary, RP writers are greatly encouraged to think out of the box and write new ways in which their characters can be presented.

 

Even though many people will argue about what an RP should be or should accomplish, most writers will agree that they contain many if not all of the elements that will be presented in this guide.

 

Introduction to an efed

 

An efed is a fantasy wrestling league in which the wrestlers, matches and results are simulated by the people who run the efed. The roster is made up of writers who write for their chosen character or characters.  The managers of the efed are in charge of writing the storyline, the results as well as judging the RPs.

 

Matches are simulated by the efed writers and the winners are chosen based on the series of RPs written for the match. Once the deadline is over, the RPs will be judged by management and whoever did best will be declared the winner. If both series of RPs prove to be equal the match could be declared a draw or any other similar finish that might fit into the current storyline.

 

While writing more RPs than your opponent usually gives writers an edge, it doesn’t mean they win automatically. Most efeds adopt a quality over quantity rule. It’s not impossible or even uncommon for someone to win a match even though they wrote one less RP than their opponent. It’s recommended to do one good RP than two bad ones.

 

The winners are chosen by management which usually includes a handful of people with different roles. Efeds usually have bookers, match writers, writing consultants, talent scouts, web designers, etc. RPs are always to be judged objectively by management before a decision is made when choosing a winner. 

Basic Rules

 

RP’s have some basic rules that should be followed if you want to be taken seriously. An unwritten rule is that any RP under 300 words is often overlooked as it shows the writer is, for lack of a better term, a rookie. In the beginning, writing longer RPs might seem hard but as both the character and the writer progress so will the RP length.

 

Almost all efeds have deadlines and maximum limits of RP for every card. The deadline refers to the last day you can post an RP. Limit refers to the number of RPs that can be done for the card (usually 3 or 4). Some efeds might also have a 1 RP on the day of the deadline rule. This is done so somebody who is a no show (didn’t RP) isn’t able to write 3 RPs on the same day and steal a win from somebody who has been steadily RPing and perhaps chose not to RP because they were ahead.

Characters that aren’t owned by the writer should never be used in RPs. Doing so will lead to the RP being scrapped and it won’t count towards the match. Some efeds do encourage writers to use their interviewers, announcers, etc. since it brings a sense of legitimacy and it helps to expand the identity of the fed. If you are to use a character that isn’t owned by you it must be with the authorization of the owner and efed management should be notified so said RP isn’t scrapped. 

 

When a writer no shows they are usually put on notice and their character is likely to lose in a decisive manner. If a writer no shows twice management will often squash their character in order to build up another. Efeds hold the right to using a character once you join so your character could be used as a jobber by management if they please. In some cases the character could get fired on screen to further a storyline. It all depends on the situation.

 

Intro scene

 

A role play should have an introduction stating where the story is about to take place. Setting always refers to when and where. An example of a basic opening setting is as follow:

 

“The camera opens up backstage in the arena where Hacksaw Jack is seen standing next to Todd Grisham for an interview.”

 

Notice how the intro established where the story is taking place and also established which characters were meant to be visible.  This way as the story develops the reader already has a clear idea of who is speaking, where it’s taking place and so forth. Remember, like drama, RPs are meant to be seen.

 

A lot of RPs have different settings as well as different time periods. It is not uncommon to have a flashbacks in an RP or highlight videos of past incidents. If used properly, it can add depth to both the story and the characters.

 

One of the benefits of doing an RP is it allows you to put your character in a situation that a normal wrestler wouldn’t be. An RP allows the writer to come up with new and original ideas that both entertain and push forward their storyline or angle. An original and unique setting, if executed correctly, can help your character stand out from the rest giving and them an instant advantage which might catch your opponent off guard. There is no better way to gain an upper hand than simply leaving your opponent speechless with what you have managed to pull off.

 

Closing Scene

 

The reader should get a sense of closure at the end of the RP, that is, it should conclude somehow so the story isn’t left dangling. Unlike the intro, the closing scene can be much shorter and abrupt as it merely informs the reader that the scene is over. Here’s an example.

 

Mr. Malenko throws the microphone to the ground and exits the ring as the scene comes to an end.

 

The example shows how the scene ends and it gives the reader a feeling of closure. It doesn’t provide too many details as they are not needed. Writers can choose to add anything they see fit as long as it adds to the overall story. All RPs should have a closing scene to conclude the particular story.

 

Stage Directions

The term stage direction is taken from drama and it means the actions your character is doing in the story. They vary from writer to writer and sometimes lack of stage direction can even add to the depth of the story. There are different ways of doing so. One example would be:

 

Mr. Malenko is standing in the middle of the ring pacing back and forth enraged as the sold out crowd yells at him intently. The sound is deafening and the fans are getting even more relentless with every passing second.

 

Mr. Malenko: If you morons would shut up for a second… [takes a pause] I said shut up for a second!

 

The crowd explodes once more as sweat starts to build in his forehead.

 

Often, stage directions are part of the overall narrative. Some writers choose to make them explicit (that is, you make them clearly visible) or implicit (doesn’t draw attention to them but rather shows them through the narrative). In the previous example we can see a mix of both.

 

 

Mr. Malenko is standing in the middle of the ring pacing back and forth enraged as the sold out crowd yell at him intently. The sound is deafening and the fans are getting even more relentless with every passing second.

 

The first sentence gives the setting (in the middle of the ring) and states the characters (in this case its Mr. Malenko and The fans). The stage directions are implicit as they are integrated within the sentence. In this case “standing in in the middle of the ring pacing back and forth” indicates the action Mr. Malenko is doing while “yell at him intently” says what the fans are doing.

 

An example of explicit stage directions is seen here:

 

Mr. Malenko: If you morons would shut up for a second… [takes a pause] I said shut up for a second!

 

[take a pause] is clearly stating what Mr. Malenko is doing while he’s talking. The [] symbols are often used to indicate en explicit action. Using this technique is a good way to clearly show what the characters are doing. However, this isn’t a requirement and most RPs vary from writer to writer. Still, if you are having trouble conveying your characters actions and emotions, this is a safe and easy way to do just that.

 

In the end it all breaks down to what style you like, what you are trying to convey and simply which form works most natural to you as a writer. Mixing stage directions into the narrative tends to become second nature with enough practice. As you grow more comfortable you might experiment a little more or even find new ways to express your characters actions. RPs should always give you an idea of how your character feels, how he acts and especially how you reader should envision him as he is being read.

The emotion you want to convey from your reader is often referred to as the tone of the RP. Some RPs are meant to show anger or frustration in which you want your reader to understand what your character is feeling. Perhaps your character is meant to be shown as a goof or a prankster so the tone of the story switches to comedic. If you want to expose serious aspects about your character or an important even is to occur, you might want to have a serious or dramatic tone.

The tone of the RP indicates the overall mood that is being conveyed. RPs change in tone depending on characters, storyline and purpose. Examples of tones are: happy, sad, dramatic, vengeful, comedic, entertaining, etc.

Good writers are able to mix different tones into the story. An RP might start out comedic and grow into a full blown drama. An RP might be a mixture of drama with comedic elements. Once again it all falls in the shoulders of the writer and what he wants to accomplish. It’s not uncommon for an RP to take a different tone than originally envisioned, but that’s part of writing a story. Sometimes RPs take a life by themselves, it’s up to the writer to execute it properly.

 

Theme

 

Theme refers to the main idea of the RPs. Sometimes a character is debuting a new gimmick or is in a particular setting which gives the RP a specific theme. For example, if a character is put into a talk show, the overall theme of the RP will revolve around the talk show if the writer so desires.

 

Theme is in no way specific to one RP. All of your RPs might work together to make a theme, that is, what is your character about. It could be argued that theme is one of the most important elements of RPing since it’s basically what your character and story is about. If your character doesn’t have a clear theme it means you don’t really know who or what it’s about, which in turns means the reader probably doesn’t know either and isn’t able to create a connection.

 

It is possible that the original theme the writer had in mind changed or evolved into something different entirely. This can be because of character growth, storyline events or much like tone, the story has taken a theme of its own.

 

Heel/Face/Tween

One common wrestling rule is that wrestlers are grouped in one of three categories: face (good guy), heel (bad guy) or tweener (neutral, may lean on either being face or heel). Much like in real life, it is greatly encouraged to choose a side and stick with it for as long as possible.

 

Note: regardless if you are a face, heel or tweener, when writing an RP you always want your reader to like your story. The point is to make your character be portrayed as a heel or a face inside the efed universe but you always want the reader to be entertained by your RP regardless of your position.

 

Face – Your RP should be written so your character is liked and cheered by the fans in the efed universe. The point always being that deep down, his or her intentions are good.

 

Heel – Your RP should be written so your character is hated and booed by the fans in the efed universe. A heel should be able to generate hatred from the fans which in turn makes him or her a villain.

Tweener – You RP should be written so your character falls into neutral territory. A tweener doesn’t really side with anyone but does tend to have good or bad tendencies. Tweeners are hard to pull off because a character might change every other week if not handled properly which in turn might hurt the overall character by not defining it. Often, writers with tweener characters tend to have the fans cheer and boo at their whim which doesn’t come off as believable in the eyes of the readers.

Remember that RPs eventually join together to tell the story of a character. If the character is flawed or doesn’t have a clear identity the reader might stop caring and choose not to invest in your character.

Gimmick

A gimmick is basically who your character is and what he does. Gimmick might include where the character is from (nationality can greatly alter a character), social class (see Alberto Del Rio, JBL, etc.) and even level of education or profession (Chris Nowinski, Big Bossman, The Mountie).

 

However gimmick also refers to the attitude of your character and who he is. Characters can be rebellious, conservative, funny, serious, dramatic, shallow, sensitive, cool, pro-authority, anti-authority, etc.

A good gimmick plays the writers strength and it mixes a little bit of everything, from social class to nationality to attitude. Much like heels and faces, once a gimmick is chosen the character should try and stick to it as long as it’s successful. Tweaks could and should be made as the character grows more defined with time, tenure and experience. Chances are your character will go through several gimmick changes, both minor and major, as long as you keep developing your character.

 

Writers should try and stick to what they are good at, at least in the beginning. Pulling of a humorous RP might be hard if a writer has never attempted comedy. The same can be said with all the other genres.  Try and chose a gimmick you are comfortable in and of course, one that fulfills you as a writer. Chances are if you enjoy your own work the readers will do so as well.

 

Length:

 

It was previously mentioned that RPs should be 300 minimun, though shorter RPs are allowed, but not encouraged. The reason for this is that very little can be said, done and accomplished in shorter RPs. Take this “RP” for example:


The Enforcer has a microphone.

 

I am coming to the BOW and I’m taking the world title cause I am the best and nobody can stop me!

No real RPer will take this character seriously for a number of reasons. The reader has no idea who the character is, what does he look like and what he can do. The fact that the character claims he will be the world champion is laughable at best because nothing is known of the character to make any sort of impact. Chances are the reader will immediately forget the RP which is the opposite of what any writer wants.

 

RPs should be memorable in the sense that they have something to say and they give your opponent something to work with which in turns allows the bookers of the efed to invest into the characters and the storyline. The more management gets to know the characters the easier it will be to write meaningful storylines for them.

There is no real maximum limit of words but long RPs don’t immediately mean they are better. Quality over quantity is the norm when it comes to length. A lot of writers, especially when they become confident, tend to explore and write longer RPs. If they don’t learn how to balance properly they might make their RP long, boring and monotonous.

 

Always read your RP before you post it. Chances are if you weren’t able to read it the whole way yourself because it got boring, the reader will feel the same thing. Same goes for short RPs. If you read your RP and fail to see anything memorable and entertaining chances are your readers will feel the same.

 

HTML and Audiovisual Recourses

 

HTML refers to adding colors, fonts, letter sizes, images and videos to your RPs. They are in no way mandatory or even required in order to make a good RP but they certainly help define the style of the writer and it makes it easier to read for the reader.

 

Using colors in your RP is an easy way to distinguish between characters and stage directions. This enables your reader to have a better flow as they progress through their RP.

 

Images are often used by RPers and they are often a sign of seasoned characters. A lot of writers use custom made banners for their character which serve to give a clear concrete image of who your character or characters look like. Banners also tend to show off your catchphrase and it’s easy on the eyes giving the whole RP a nice, polished feel.

 

It is greatly encouraged to learn some of these techniques as they add to the overall presentation. Most of the html commands needed are simple to use (such as centering, font color, etc.) If you want to learn basic html codes that can be used both on the board and on private sites you might want to visit http://www.web-source.net/html_codes_chart.htm or http://www.quackit.com/html/codes/

 

Images may also be used to show off something in the story, such as a building, a vehicle, a person, or even to carry out a punch line. Images should be used to add to the story. Beware that using too many images can take away and just create a reputation for the writer as someone who has nothing to say so they fluff their RP with images. Once again, always stick to the quality over quantity philosophy.

 

Videos are relatively new but they have proven to be extremely effective for different reasons. Sometimes the theme song is embedded which can help to further establish your character. Some writers possess video editing skills which can prove to be greatly beneficial as they are able to make custom videos for their characters and build up wrestlers, feuds, etc. The downside is it may take a long time to do and with the RP limits and deadlines it might not be feasible to do one for every RP. Videos should add to the RP but not become the RP. Always remember that a good video is used to add to the overall story but like images, it should never be overused.

 

Linking videos has become quite easy, especially youtube videos. All videos have an embed function which gives you the code for linking the video. Simply copy the code given on the youtube video page and paste it on the board and the video should play perfectly.

 

A lot of tenured writers use private pages that they link to the RP board. The reason for this is it provides an archive of the written RPs as well as allowing the writer to customize the RP beyond the board’s capability. It also conveys a sense of professionalism that does nothing but add to the integrity and legitimacy of the writer and the character being presented.

 

Private Websites are not required, but they are encouraged. It’s a good idea to save your RPs so you can later access them for reference or just to compare to your current work. Writers are often blown away when they go back to their first writings only to discover how many mistakes they committed and how far along they have come. Remember, the more you write, the better you become.  

 

Originality

 

At the end of the day, one of the most important aspects of RPing is originality. In this guide I have covered the basics of RPing but they are in no way set in stone. Writers should always look for ways to have a unique voice and to follow their instincts as writers. Readers will love reading new unique things that haven’t been done or are presented in new ways. Always try to stand out from the rest of the roster. A writer should always aspire to reach the next level and be open to experiment a little bit in order to do so. You want your voice to be heard and recognized and the best way to do so is by being original in your writing and exposing fresh ideas to your reader.