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A Theory of Roleplay: Creativity and Common Sense

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Kagetora
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A Theory of Roleplay: Creativity and Common Sense

Postby Kagetora » Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:33 pm

First off, thank you very much to all of those who found, read, and commented on this thread. Your comments mean a lot to me. It's encouraging and makes me want to write more articles for all of you. On top of that, while there was some shameless self promotion involved, featured article! Whoo! Thanks to Jenrak for thinking this thread was good enough to leave up for all of you, thanks to the readers for their support, thanks to those who helped with the development of this article, and thanks in advance to everyone else who comments in this thread! I'd also like to encourage you all to read my other article, which can be found in my signature.


Foreword:
Everyone who's reading this I'm sure has roleplayed at some point in their life. This is the spelling out of a thought I had while answering a question. Namely, what makes for good posting, good threads, and generally fun roleplaying? This is merely a theory I came up with, and it is still incomplete. There is always more to be said about the art of writing, the art of storytelling, and the art of roleplaying. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to post them. If you'd like to mesh the idea into a more universal theory feel free (although being credited would be nice). If you disagree, I invite you to be vocal about it, just be civil. Credit goes to Carta for the diagram because I'm lazy. Further thanks to Carta, Motuka, and Zoingo for proofreading and suggestions.

The Compass:
Image

To begin this theory, I will state that all posts and all threads can be charted on a two dimensional, x-y chart. For our purposes, the y-axis will be Creativity, with the top being more creative, and the bottom being less so. The top would include original works, brand new ideas, new characters, new situations, anything that hasn't been done before. The bottom would include ideas such as Captain Cliche, Lord Generic, and a considerable portion of what can be found on TV Tropes. In essence, the bottom is cliches and overused ideas and topics. The x-axis is the common sense. Rationality, Reasonability, and Realism. The right is where rational, reasonable, and realistic thought processes and actions happen, where numbers make sense. Things on the right simply make sense. The left is where we get terms including "number wanking", "godmodding", and other ideas that nobody wants to be associated with.

Creativity:
I think everyone can agree that something that is unique and creative makes for better reading than something that is bland and overused. Creativity I'm going to loosely define as being unique, original, and/or unusual. This is why I enjoy reading dystopian fiction; it's fun reading all the different visions people have, the different interpretations, and the different viewpoints. The idea of creativity can apply to the characters, to the setting, to the mood, to the writing style, to almost all aspects of the piece of writing. Creativity is also a relative scale. There are many times that I see groups of writers storytelling within confines previously set up, for instance fanfiction. While I can't say I've read much of it, I know there is creative fanfiction, where they take barely mentioned characters and give them a story, or take the characters on adventures of the established canon. These can be creative in a relative scale.

Something can be creative without being entirely original either. You can take a well known idea; for instance, the story of Romeo and Juliet can be used in a variety of different settings and seem original and fun and creative. Place a story like that in the Star Wars universe, or the LOTR universe, or something else. There are no set rules for being creative, but creativity is easy to recognize. This indefiniteness is partly why the diagram above has no numbers; there is "high" creativity and "low" creativity, sorta like how there is no strict definition for someone being "tall." You can be relatively tall, or you can simply be tall; there is no set height. Anyway enough digression.

Common Sense:
Similarly to Creativity, I believe it's pretty easy to determine if something makes sense. While traditional and time-tested customs here on NS in regards to population and other hardcoded aspects of the game are generally accepted (for instance, the 100 million population to have nukes guideline [this is NOT a rule by any means] or the .5%, 1%, or 5% [depending on the group you play with] population limit on your nation's military), there are some roleplaying aspects which continue to be put to the writers discretion. Before I go further on this idea, I must again say that common sense is a relative scale. In a world of magic, common sense regarding the laws of physics doesn't necessarily apply, so realism based on real world physics doesn't always have to be there. In a story about an insane asylum, the people will not always be making normal actions or having normal thought processes, so your character doesn't necessarily have to follow "rational" thought processes.

But this doesn't mean you can throw these ideas out entirely when you write in these unusual circumstances. In a world of magic, the physics tend to have CHANGED. They still exist. You still should be realistic within the expanded boundaries. In an insane asylum, the rationality of the character has CHANGED, they still believe they are being rational. Be rational within this new set of boundaries.

Now that that's better explained, have your story make sense. If your setting is modern or historical tech, an excellent set of expectations of common sense has been set up by the community and past roleplayers. If your setting is anything else other than modern or historical, you have a little more freedom with common sense. Just remember that everything you do only expands or changes the boundaries, there are always boundaries in good writing.

An idea added by Motuka, which I agree with (with the exception that it really only applies to writing with multiple authors or roleplaying, writing by yourself this is less of an issue), is common sense applies OOCly as well as ICly. Unless everyone agrees, don't try and give yourself an instant win option, regardless of how well it's explained ICly. It removes the fun. An example he provided would be "we have slipstream drives on our space missiles, so they can just disappear from inside my ships and reappear inside your defenses."

Bringing it Together:
Now on these two scales, Creativity and Common Sense, we can agree that the more sense and more creativity that is involved makes for better writing. Holding all other things equal (such as length, grammar, syntax, diction, prose, eloquence, rhetoric, etc.). So if the further right we are, the better the writing, and the further up we are, the better the writing, thus we can conclude that everything in the top right quadrant contains the best writing. It makes sense and is creative. This is not saying that the first quadrant is the only place where good writing exists, simply the idea that the further up and right something is, the better it is. This isn't that hard of a concept is it?

Clarifications:
Now from this it might be interpreted that I favor or encourage technical writing because it makes sense. This is not at all true. I personally don't give a rat's ass how your gun works. I do care that if you shoot someone with it, they sensibly respond to getting shot, be it stopping the projectile somehow or taking casualties.

It can also be interpreted, that this means that a one-liner that is both creative and sensible is better than a full post that is less creative and sensible. To this I reply, while rare, this is possible, and I would like to point again to "all other things equal". It is possible a one liner is most appropriate for a reply, and in this case I would say yeah, a one-liner is better.




Here's another article I wrote, enjoy. Comments, questions, and concerns are welcome.

-Kag
Last edited by Jenrak on Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Milograd » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:30 am

I read this and I liked this. Just thought you should know that Kag. <3

Not bumping this thread. D:<
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Postby Tiami » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:32 am

Awesome. <3
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Postby Amazonian Beasts » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:38 am

Good stuff Kag. I like the graph, heh.
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Postby Kagetora » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:44 am

Thanks guys! Again, criticisms are welcome! If anyone wants, I'd also be honored to co-author further articles with any of you
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Postby Stoklomolvi » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:45 am

This was a terrible critique and resembles Ayn Rand's nonsensical drivel, and the graph is childish and lame. Also, Japs.

I actually think this was fairly well-written and the graph to be of acceptable quality, good work.
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Postby Cresilia » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:48 am

Good work Kage, I thoroughly enjoyed this.
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Postby Hossaim » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:54 am

i have both of these things, just the inability to get people to look at my threads.
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Postby Slaytesics » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:54 am

I couldn't have said it better.
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Postby Kagetora » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:58 am

Hossaim wrote:i have both of these things, just the inability to get people to look at my threads.

If you'd like some further reading, I also wrote another article on starting threads.

Everyone else thank you for your support!
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Postby Swkoll » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:51 pm

Mind=Blown
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Postby Anagonia » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:36 pm

This is excellent. I could never in a million years have achieved this great of detail concerning role playing. It is sound and provides awesome advice. Great job!

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Postby Kagetora » Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:08 pm

Swkoll wrote:Mind=Blown

Thanks!

Anagonia wrote:This is excellent. I could never in a million years have achieved this great of detail concerning role playing. It is sound and provides awesome advice. Great job!

Oh you're selling yourself short. Thanks!

And in general, is there really no criticism? Opposition? I'd like to see it if it's out there.
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Postby Cyrupe » Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:07 am

Very impressed Kage. A well deserved featured article and something that should be on a must read guides list. <3

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Postby Anagonia » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:09 am

Kagetora wrote:Oh you're selling yourself short. Thanks!

And in general, is there really no criticism? Opposition? I'd like to see it if it's out there.


Nonsense, you deserve every bit of it!

I honestly TRIED to find a flaw, I really did. First I looked it over casually, then with determination to find issues. Finally, I tried to go all out trying to nitpick it. Guess what? Nothing. Your method is sound. While it may be a bit too advanced for starting role players, it demonstrates a key ability between the author whom allows the reader to grasp the basic concepts of what lays within the words. The image also helped. So yea, I believe while it is extremely detailed, it still is well founded and a good read for some awesome advice.

:)

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Postby Kagetora » Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:46 am

Cyrupe wrote:Very impressed Kage. A well deserved featured article and something that should be on a must read guides list. <3

Thanks a lot! I'm just glad that I'm not the only one reading this.

Anagonia wrote:
Kagetora";p="<a href="tel:6803626">6803626</a> wrote:Oh you're selling yourself short. Thanks!

And in general, is there really no criticism? Opposition? I'd like to see it if it's out there.


Nonsense, you deserve every bit of it!

I honestly TRIED to find a flaw, I really did. First I looked it over casually, then with determination to find issues. Finally, I tried to go all out trying to nitpick it. Guess what? Nothing. Your method is sound. While it may be a bit too advanced for starting role players, it demonstrates a key ability between the author whom allows the reader to grasp the basic concepts of what lays within the words. The image also helped. So yea, I believe while it is extremely detailed, it still is well founded and a good read for some awesome advice.

:)

Ah man thanks. That really just made my day. And I agree, I was a little worried when writing this that the majority if those that would benefit from this are older, more advanced writers, that fear is somewhat assuaged. I'm sure you could have written just as well as I did. I've read your stuff, and while I don't always agree with the tone, I must admit it's very well done. Thanks again! :)
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Anagonia
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Postby Anagonia » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:41 pm

Kagetora wrote:Ah man thanks. That really just made my day. And I agree, I was a little worried when writing this that the majority if those that would benefit from this are older, more advanced writers, that fear is somewhat assuaged. I'm sure you could have written just as well as I did. I've read your stuff, and while I don't always agree with the tone, I must admit it's very well done. Thanks again! :)


Thank you for the compliment and the opinion, I really appreciate it here too! You are VERY welcome! Keep up the good work. :)

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Postby ArUmdAUM » Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:33 pm

Very well written, Kage, and also very helpful.

It inspired me to write something, but I'll probably be to lazy to do whatever my conscious is telling me to do.
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Postby Lineale » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:31 pm

I greatly appreciate the concept, and will probably end up using it to eventually grade players before I allow them into my RPing regions. Nice job.

Could someone create an app for this or something?

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Postby Cult of Skaaro » Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:05 pm

I just spent a few minutes reading through this and personally it's utter horseshit? Take that as you will but quite simply put you're wrong. Something can and has been completely nonsensical and still be completely hariliously entertaining. Creativity and Common Sense do not get along because the latter inhibits the former and in a freeform environment it may as well just take the day off, honestly.

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Postby Kagetora » Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:14 pm

Thank you for your comment. Now while I respect different opinions, I'd like to offer a couple responses. Before we begin though, let's restrict this conversation to writing, roleplaying, and literature. There is far too much to add when we move into other storytelling mediums like film and radio.

First, common sense is a restriction on creativity for a reason. Have you ever listened to a five year old talking about the adventure of Jeffy the Cowboy Dinosaur Astronaut? sure it can be fun to listen to. It doesn't make sense though, and there's a reason why there isn't serious roleplay or literature that document the adventures of such a character. Now fun? Probably. Good literature? I would definitely not call it such.

Second, how would you compare writing instead? If it is based purely on creativity, which is what I infer based on your response, then our young children are the best writers, assuming they understand grammar and spelling. There's a reason I didn't mention that by the way, if you can't spell or write grammatically well, there's very little chance that I will read or enjoy something regardless of how compelling the subject is.

Third, comedy, as you seem to be talking about specifically, usually makes some sort of sense, although it's often convoluted or backwards logic, and still fits within this graph, as I specifically mentioned that this is a relative scale of sense. Other times, comedy can be funny because it entirely rejects this graph. Humor is believed by some to be a response to contradiction, something being out of place. In which case, humor can be viewed as a reversal of the common sense scale.
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Postby Yesopalitha » Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:08 pm

As a person who is completely new at this, I commend you for the clarity and wealth of information presented on this page. It explains a lot, in a concise, direct manner, and is very easy to follow.
I will do my best to incorporate your wisdom and advice into the RPs that I write...
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Postby Yohannes » Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:37 pm

Good stuff Kag!
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Postby Kagetora » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:21 pm

Thanks guys!
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Postby Undivulged Principles » Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:47 pm

Interesting. I wouldn't say I agree with some of your opinions and definitions but the reasoning is sound.

One thing, shouldn't the graph be an L rather than a cross, with the same x and y axis? That way the bottom left would be 0 creativity and 0 common sense. That would seem to fit closer to the argument you presented, IMO. Your current graph looks more like a political spectrum, where there is no "right" or "wrong" way, just different.
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