Well, since my last post in this thread was the picture of redundancy, I felt the need to contribute something else. So, without further ado...
How in the world am I supposed to write another player's character?
Well, it's happened. You've been playing Tapestry for a while, maybe just a short while (maybe this is your first post!), and your character has bumped into another player's character. You want to make a post to advance the story, and there's about a 100% chance that this other character is going to have to a) speak, and b) do stuff.
"But," you protest, "how am I supposed to write appropriate actions and dialogue for this character? The character's player has been in the game for x number of days/weeks/years! How would I know what their character would do or say? How can I put words in the mouth of the character without making an enemy of the player?"
Well, if you observe the following four basic points, you'll do just fine... even on your first try. These four points are:
While it can seem daunting, even 'wrong', to write dialogue and actions for another player's character, it's actually a common occurrence in Tapestry. Players can (and often must) do it all the time, and in the over four years of the game's existence, not a single problem/argument has arisen as a result of it. In fact, here's a little-known secret: long-term Tapestry players love to read the actions of their character, as told by another player. Why? Because how well you write their character is a direct reflection of how well they themselves have written the character. A well-drawn character's motives, attitudes, and mannerisms will actually be very easy to emulate. This is, of course, provided that you:
When a new in-character post goes up in Tapestry, get over there and read it right away (make sure that you're subscribed to the thread!). It only takes a couple of minutes. It doesn't matter if you've never heard of the player before, and it doesn't matter if their character is on the other side of the galaxy from yours. Because odds are, your character is going to meet them eventually. It doesn't even matter if you have no clue what's going on in their current story arc (as with any episodic tv show, watching/reading a few episodes/posts will get you up to speed, anyway). Because even if you don't know what's going on, studying the character will provide you with all kinds of helpful information about their character. Are they serious and straight-laced, or do they tend to crack a lot of jokes? Do they rush into action, or do they take a more measured approach? Are they warm and friendly, or cold and aloof? All of this information will assist you in writing the character... but you won't acquire these tools if you haven't been reading. And if nobody minds me pulling out my Stephen King quote again (King was talking about regular 'one author' fiction writing, but it counts at least double for Tapestry), here it is again:
"If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time, or the tools, to write."
Now, here's an extremely specific point:
- Respect your perspective!
Whatever the other character may say or do, it must all be filtered through your own character's perspective. This is to say, your character is not psychic. He doesn't know (and you can't write about) what the other character thinks or feels. If your character can't observe it with his five senses, then you can't write about it. For example, you can't write that another player's character is "overcome with desire at the sight of Bob's rippling muscles". The most you can do is have Bob show off his rippling muscles; it's up to the other player to decide if their character is overcome with desire or not.
"But... isn't that restricting? "
Actually, it isn't... it's freeing! Freed from the responsibility of writing what the other player's character thinks and feels, you can get down to the nuts and bolts of describing what they do and say... and that's easy!
What they do: Would the character lay down suppressing fire while you try to get that blast door open? Sure they would! Would they give you their starship in exchange for a two-for-one coupon at the local diner? Probably not. The answer to these questions is almost always really easy - and if it isn't, well, then it's time to shoot the player a PM, and get their take on the situation. Any player will happily answer your questions right away.
What they say: If you've been reading the player's posts (and you must be - if you just want to post your own story without reading the other players' writings, you might be happier at a site like fanfiction.net), you'll already have a good idea of how they talk. Are they very chatty, or are they a 'man of few words'? Do they use big words, or do they speak in grunts and quick street slang? Do they curse a lot (Star Wars curses, that is - real-world swears don't really have a place in Star Wars)? If not, they shouldn't start doing so in your post. It all comes back to Point #2: if you've been reading, all of these questions should be answered for you. And now, the final point:
- Pass the ball!
Any given scene, no matter how small, should offer the other player the chance to act within it. If you're writing a scene that you're excited about, resist the urge to begin and end the scene in one post - because by doing so, you'll be robbing the other player of the opportunity to have their character do or say anything they want them to to do or say. If you'd like the other character to attend to your injuries before chasing after the villain who inflicted them, have your character ask the other character to do so! You can bet that the other player will post right away, and will do what they feel is appropriate for their character. A good rule of thumb is to allow all PCs involved in a scene to make a post before moving on to the next scene... because no player (including you) wants to feel like their character is a mere passenger in another PC's story.
And really, that's it! Observe the four simple points above, and not only will writing for another player's character be effortless and enjoyable, but you will absolutely delight the other player by doing so.