Feb 13, 2015

The (Surprising) Benefits of Roleplaying

(Hello! Melody here, back for another guest post--this time on roleplay. Enjoy!!! :)

I see you raising your eyebrows at the title. Yes, that's why the 'surprising' is in there. ;) Roleplaying can actually be extremely helpful when it comes to developing your story characters--as I have found out in the past few weeks--and I'm here to tell you how.

I've never been one for roleplaying much. I mean, it's fun pretending to be a character and communicating with someone else's character, but I had better things to do, frankly. Like actually sitting down and finishing this second novel Dragons' Bane that I've been working on for a while now. But recently, I got rather taken with the thought of actually roleplaying as my story characters, to maybe learn to make them more human and see how they react in situations outside of my story world.

And so, I got sucked into the world of roleplay. Some of the writers on this blog, as well as some other writers, started using our own story characters to do some roleplay. It was just for fun, at first, but after a couple days, I was kind of amazed by how much more...real my characters felt.

See, the thing is, with a roleplay there is always an element of the unexpected. You are only writing one half--or a third/fourth, etc--of the conversation, which makes for some interesting and surprising situations. You don't know everything about the other characters your character is talking to, and sometimes end up talking about or doing something you never expected. And this element of the unexpected helps make the characters seem more than just puppets you are controlling to do what you want them to. They end up in situations you never anticipated, saying things you didn't plan and making mistakes that might even leave you a little embarrassed. Or they might do something fun like take a group photo, even though not all of them know what a camera is. ;)

           A picture our lovely friend drew of some of the    
roleplay characters taking a group photo.
From left to right: Jade, Russell, Gwyn,
Alice, Gigi, and Caleb
I still don't understand it, but I've also gotten out of some puzzling plot problems by doing the roleplay. There was a plot point of Dragons' Bane that I had been puzzling over for months: how my characters were going to storm an extinct volcano with only one heavily guarded entrance. Then it got brought up in the roleplay and my character shrugged and said 'Oh yeah, we're going to climb to the top and go in through the vent'. And I was just like....Why did you not tell me this sooner???? You could have saved me a lot of time and trouble!!

But, unfortunately, characters have a mind of their own, haha. I've learned things I never expected to while roleplaying, through casual conversations that brought up deep topics to how they would interact in very odd/stressful/embarrassing situations. :) It's been so much fun! And it's quite interesting when the character's feelings start to affect me too. One of my characters got really mad and kind of blew up at everyone, and after writing that, I had to like force myself to calm down because I was mad for no real reason other than my character was. I guess that's a good sign of it being real, though, right? :)

Another helpful thing I've learned during roleplay is character quirks. When you write a story, you're usually more focused on the big, important stuff. Roleplay is just the opposite. There's a lot of small talk and repeated things that would just slog a book down. It's a conversation, not a plot. And that means there's more focus on the little things your characters do that usually wouldn't be as prominent in writing a book.

For example, I realized after roleplaying for a while that one of my characters rubs the back of his neck a lot when he's nervous/confused, so I've made a note to add that into the story. I've also got some good/terrible puns and jokes out of it, haha, since he is, like, the biggest jokester ever.

Sometimes, too, there are things my characters just don't want to tell me, but they'll tell other characters. It makes me feel a bit put-out, haha, but I guess they get sick of talking to me after a while. And now all they want to do is go back and talk with their character friends on the roleplay. *rolls eyes* ;)

But really, it's amazing how much you can learn from even just a little bit of roleplaying. A couple of my characters have surprised me with how they've behaved, then just look at me like 'duh, I've been like this all along, you just haven't ever gotten me right.' Well, I'm getting them right now. And they feel a lot more like real people...almost too real, in fact. I've completely fallen in love with them.

Sooooo, how 'bout you? Ever done roleplay, or roleplayed with your characters? And if not, did this post make you want to try it?

--Melody Jackson, author of "The Dragon Within"

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post Melody! Hopefully I can do some more roleplaying sometime :)