Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Discuss anything dealing with the Touhou: PoIR RP. Suggestions for forum improvement also go here.

Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Kanako Yasaka » 10 Apr 2013 01:15

This is the inaugural thread for what I hope to be a recurring feature on PoIR. While we often discuss thread specifics among ourselves on IRC or in private messages, I feel a more public discussion could potentially be productive. This workshop is intended to give a place where people can trade ideas and theories specifically concerned with writing for a Touhou oriented role-playing board. We hope to address what works for us, what might work for another, and what can be improved. This is not really intended for specific thread discussions, but if they become relevant to the topic at hand, they are permissible.Anyone is allowed to participate, and so long as a civil attitude is kept I see no reason why a thread cannot continuously be posted in even when a new workshop is opened. Otherwise, if a thread is deemed to have run its course after about two weeks (give or take), I'll ask the mods to archive it.

The initial topic of discussion I wanted to start with is:


How do I start a thread? What can I do to generate interest in it?


This seems like a difficult topic for a lot of people. I think everyone struggles with this from time to time, even myself. Even if you have a great thread idea, sometimes it seems like nobody else is interested! We'll take my thoughts on this in two parts.

Firstly, how do you get a thread going? Sometimes you just don't even know where to start. You don't have an idea, but you're tired of jumping blind into an open thread with four or five other people already doing their own thing. What I've found works the best is actually related to something I want to talk about in more depth later, having character goals. But this isn't a fix-all for every issue. And sometimes goals are something that happen as a matter of course as you write, rather than something that you declare ahead of time. Maybe Meiling decides she wants to try and learn cooking after visiting Mystia's stand and being mesmerized by how she makes eel taste like a slice of heaven. Maybe Yuuka has an epiphany that flows into something else that the player never expected. Obviously this is all just touching on what is possible to inspire a thread idea.

Secondly, how do you generate interest? What has worked for me the most has been trying to read threads that interest me (beyond just my own), and engaging with as many other players as possible. Showing an
interest in someone else's writing means they're rather more likely to care about what you have to contribute, I feel. Also, engaging the larger community, whether through General Discussion, Off-Topic or IRC, there are ways to touch base with the other players. But even if you do everything 'right' sometimes its just not going to work out, and I'm certain I've overlooked several other salient points. I'm interested to hear what others have found to work for them in planning out threads and attracting interest.
Image
User avatar
Kanako Yasaka
Alternate Character
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Rin Satsuki » 10 Apr 2013 15:06

Kanako Yasaka wrote:Firstly, how do you get a thread going? Sometimes you just don't even know where to start. You don't have an idea, but you're tired of jumping blind into an open thread with four or five other people already doing their own thing.


Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration.

Writing doesn't spring out of nowhere. You aren't going to suddenly have a lightbulb flick on over your head, accompanied by an entire plot with character development, setting, and themes burst into existence. It all comes from somewhere - that doujin you read last night, the movie you watched last week, the webcomic that you catch up with every month or so and then forget about for the next dozen updates.

Read things. Listen to things. Look at things. Think about things you would normally acknowledge for a split second and then discard into the pile of unrealized concepts in the back of your mind.

For example, take this image.
Image

Oh, that's a nice picture... next.

Don't do that. Look at it for longer than a few seconds. Why is she sitting alone inside a bubble underwater? Is it even a bubble, or is it a force field of some sort? Is it a dream, or just the wonderfully rich depths of her own mind which she isn't aware of?



How would a battle scene with this as the BGM play out? What if it was choreographed to the music? Who would it involve, and why is it happening - playful danmaku, or for a perceived slight?

Of course, the unfortunate reality is that inspiration is elusive. If you're totally stuck, do something else*. There's no point staring at your cursor blinking away if you're flat out of ideas.

*this does not mean to do something totally unrelated such as playing a game or watching TV. If you're that stuck, look at something relevant - browse images on Danbooru, listen to some arranges, read doujins - or do something totally mindless which will allow you to daydream, such as cleaning the bathroom.

There's no shame in copying someone else's idea to kick off a thread. Chances are their seemingly original idea is just somebody else's idea with a personal twist, and if you're finding yourself plagiarizing their work word for word you're so far out of character that shameless copying is the least of your issues.
User avatar
Rin Satsuki
Software Admin
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Kogasa Tatara » 11 Apr 2013 01:39

Something that has been a great source of inspiration for me personally, has been myths and legends concerning real world equivalents of characters I play. For example, with Kogasa, I got a really neat thread idea from an old story on tsukumogami that has them ascending to nirvana. This got me thinking about where a tsukumogami's place in the cycle really is (at least, how Buddhist see things), and if lateral movement along the 'realms' is really possible, or if there's a different route for them. Long story short, I thought about the differences between Hina and Kogasa, and am in the process of planning out a thread with Komachi, who I imagine would be a speaking authority on the subject herself.

This actually leads into a second point I just thought of: being flexible with your ideas. Initially, I envisioned exploring the thread idea above with Hina. Problem is, we currently do not have a Hina. Later on, I see Komachi is looking for threads, and remember the idea I had. It didn't take much to come to the realization that Komachi, a death god, is as viable of a character as Hina would be, if not more so, to explore the topic of the life/death cycle. It seems obvious after I thought of it, but it likely would have never occurred to me if I hadn't thought of how Kogasa and Komachi might interact in a thread first. You'd be amazed at what you come up with when you expand your pool, even by just a little bit.

That's my two cents for now.
User avatar
Kogasa Tatara
Forum/IRC Moderator
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Merlin Prismriver » 13 Apr 2013 05:46

Kanako Yasaka wrote:Secondly, how do you generate interest?

Oh, I'm pretty sure people would join you if you ask, continue if you remind them, and take interest if it's interesting (unless they have their time and hands full, which is another matter entirely). So go and talk, communicate. Make yourself known, know people.

If the thread idea itself is bland, people won't care much for it. If the opening thread is empty, people won't be captured into it. If you're starting a thread, especially an Open one, make it compelling. Make it something people want to read through. And use it to set up the mood of the thread. If you're joining a thread, play along. Get yourself involved, and not just a part of the crowd. Continue the moodset, or expand it. Ask for a reaction.

Your character can be passive, but your RPing doesn't have to be.

Rin Satsuki wrote:this does not mean to do something totally unrelated such as playing a game or

I take offense with that statement. Or rather, I think it's a wholly misleading statement. Games can be great inspirations, isn't the Touhou Project itself proof of that? Why should you just browse Danbooru instead of playing games? And I'm not just talking about the story/visual/music/world/vanity of the game. The gameplay themselves are art form, one way or another.

And, uhh, I don't mean to spark an argument with this. Just making a point. Carry on, don't mind me. Sorry.
Image
User avatar
Merlin Prismriver
Main Character
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Rin Satsuki » 13 Apr 2013 07:59

Merlin Prismriver wrote:
Rin Satsuki wrote:this does not mean to do something totally unrelated such as playing a game or

I take offense with that statement. Or rather, I think it's a wholly misleading statement. Games can be great inspirations, isn't the Touhou Project itself proof of that? Why should you just browse Danbooru instead of playing games? And I'm not just talking about the story/visual/music/world/vanity of the game. The gameplay themselves are art form, one way or another.


There's a difference between using elements of a game in your own writing and playing a game to entertain yourself. While I will concede that there are many games which are works of art in and of themselves, my point was that generally speaking playing games is more likely to distract people than to help them with that thread they're stuck on.

The ultimate objective is to be doing something which is going to leave you with time to think, as well as give you something to think about which is in some way connected to the subject of your writing. As long as somebody is doing that, what they are actually doing is not a matter of concern.
User avatar
Rin Satsuki
Software Admin
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Sanae Kochiya » 13 Apr 2013 20:30

Rin's entire post pretty much is spot on to how I go about getting thread ideas. In my case, if it isn't music or standalone images, it's doujinshi. As Koishi had said, ideas can spur from other's ideas without directly copying them. However, more than finding inspiration for the thread idea, I find myself getting inspiration for my character. I find it easier to make posts in general when I find myself seeing a new and interesting take on my characters. Oddly enough, I can't think up any good examples with my own characters since I haven't read a Sanae or Yumemi touhou doujin in a long while. One example I can give was for when I played as Meira. Because of a certain series of videos relating to Cirno-nee, I to this day like to think that Meira could possibly be an older sibling/relative to Reimu. That take on her character gave me so many ideas on where I should go in terms of character goals and thread ideas.

Now, if I may, I have another thing I'd like to bring up without kinda derailing the discussion at hand. This is something that has always given me trouble as a writer, but I only really labeled it as a problem recently.

Setting.

When it comes to creating an opening post for a thread, it's always good to give a good description of the world around the characters. I find that envisioning the world you are roleplaying in does wonders for coming up with ideas. The only problem is that I can never seem to come up with the right words to do so. Where do you start? Where does it end? To what degree do you describe something? Whenever I try and begin describing the world, it's as if a writer's block made specifically for "the world" appears before me. I can see it in my head perfectly, but the words don't come. Because of this I'm forced to take the path towards the characters and actions before I can set the setting.

I ask of you all, what can I do to help with this?
Image
Ctrl+F5 to see a new avatar! (Special thanks to Soga)
User avatar
Sanae Kochiya
Alternate Character
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Chen » 14 Apr 2013 21:11

The first post in a thread is a writing prompt.

So I ask myself "What kind of posts do people want to write?" and then I write a thread that prompts people to write that post.
"Happiness is like a cat, If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you; it will never come. But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you'll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap."
User avatar
Chen
Main Character
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Ichirin Kumoi » 14 Apr 2013 23:41

Chen has a good point, though you should never stray away from your writing style only for making things easier to the others. If you feel like writing a detailed description of the scenario or put more feeling into your character, do so.

Also, a good technique for me to writing posts is to imagine how it would like if it was a video, be it a film or a game cutscene. It does wonders to actually feel how it is inside the idea, and especially effective in dramatic situations and fights. What have more impact on the scene? How your character reacts in a situation? Visualize it rather than just place the words, it's quite fun and pumps your own emotions for writing.
Image
<RoboReimu> i'm pretty damn scary
User avatar
Ichirin Kumoi
Forum Moderator
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Merlin Prismriver » 15 Apr 2013 13:10

Ichirin Kumoi wrote:Also, a good technique for me to writing posts is to imagine how it would like if it was a video, be it a film or a game cutscene. It does wonders to actually feel how it is inside the idea, and especially effective in dramatic situations and fights. What have more impact on the scene? How your character reacts in a situation? Visualize it rather than just place the words, it's quite fun and pumps your own emotions for writing.

Wait, people doesn't actually do that, automatically? I always visualize whatever it is that I'm writing/reading. Like it's all happening inside in some alternate dimension in my mind, and I'm seeing it with my own eyes, hear the sound with my own ears, smell whatever smell happens to be described with my own nose. It doesn't take over the writing, just add a layer on it. Are you saying that not everybody do that? o.O

And you gotta think about what to describe too. Won't do well to describe too many things as well (how many cloud there is, for instance, unlike your character is particularly interested in the clouds). And in some certain cases, it might be better to not describe anything and just focus on action, if it's action-heavy. If it isn't, and the character is, say, waiting around or not doing anything much, more descriptions is better, as the characters themselves notice them more.

Sanae Kochiya wrote: The only problem is that I can never seem to come up with the right words to do so. Where do you start? Where does it end? To what degree do you describe something? Whenever I try and begin describing the world, it's as if a writer's block made specifically for "the world" appears before me. I can see it in my head perfectly, but the words don't come. Because of this I'm forced to take the path towards the characters and actions before I can set the setting.

I ask of you all, what can I do to help with this?

Let if flow. You like writing characters, write characters. You like writing actions, write actions. Write descriptions when you encounter them. If you're s(t)uck at descriptions, just describe what's important or what people need to imagine in a specific way.

For example, "She stood under a tree" is enough to give people the idea of a person, female, standing under a tree. What tree it is isn't important, and you don't have to say it if you don't want to. Now, if you want to establish something, like that it was wintertime, saying, "She stood under the tree. It was cold, and she could feel snow falling from the branch above," is good enough. You encounter a tree, and you describe that it was winter (cold) with that tree.
Image
User avatar
Merlin Prismriver
Main Character
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Yukari Yakumo » 15 Apr 2013 13:36

For some characters, (ok, for Yukari mostly), it's tricky to join threads with her that doesn't overshadow whatever's happening (Shock-! Why is the youkai of boundaries here watching the library get restocked/newspaper distribution/other not-worldbreaking-event? Did someone invite her?!) so the majority of my threads are by invite, and discussion about what they'd be about with a couple of others, first. I would often either have an idea with a specific other character, and ask if they'd be willing to have a thread with me, or they would ask me, and I'd often respond with a yes.

Communication's very useful! If you want a thread with someone in particular, proposition them to it! Ask, and receive much more reliable responses, as well as an idea of where the thread would go!
Image
User avatar
Yukari Yakumo
Forum/IRC Moderator
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Kanako Yasaka » 15 Apr 2013 14:58

In response to Sanae's query, on describing the setting:

This is one of the trickier ones to address, and I'm sure I sometimes either go overboard or undersell it. Actually, Rin's suggestion here still holds true. Have you ever seen a painting, a movie or even a video game that depicted natural surroundings like a city or a forest? Have those ever moved you? Inspired you? It becomes easier to describe these things when you have a clear picture of what you're imagining in your mind's eye. If you're trying to describe say, the interior of Moriya Shrine, look up some photos of shrines. Most of those don't have photographs of the interiors for religious reasons, but its a start. A good compromise might be the next best thing, like a Dojo interior or a very old palace or castle.

Approach it in a natural fashion. Think about what your character would see as they stood in the room, either entering it or already being inside of it. Actually, let's go one step farther. The way you describe a character can be ascribed to inanimate objects, so why not a room also? Why not a whole building? Does the Shrine seem to loom above visitors, vast and intimidating? Do the Onbashira seem to stoop like mighty predators, menacing those who might have less than pure intentions, silent and monolithic sentinels? The room might be joyful or somber, it might have splashes of bright color or dull functional paint that's cracking.

I suppose I'm borrowing from Ichirin's point here too, in saying that you need to put yourself into the character's mind in that surroundings. To the point that it's real enough that you can almost imagine walking among the trees, feeling the rain on your shoulders and head. To the point that the scent of incense is almost palpable.
Image
User avatar
Kanako Yasaka
Alternate Character
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Yukari Yakumo » 15 Apr 2013 16:56

Kanako Yasaka wrote:In response to Sanae's query, on describing the setting
While I tend to err on the purple prose side of matters (it seems to come naturally, for some bizzare reason), humor tends to works well. Or ACTION-! Or emotional responses. Or magic- this is sometimes underutilised - Gensokyo's a land of magic, after all.

Or an explosion.

Mix that up with the basics of the location, who's present (presumably your character!), what they're doing and anything else of interest around, and bam! You've got yourself a touhou douji- I mean, a PoIR thread!
Image
User avatar
Yukari Yakumo
Forum/IRC Moderator
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Kogasa Tatara » 16 Apr 2013 02:26

Merlin Prismriver wrote:
Ichirin Kumoi wrote:Also, a good technique for me to writing posts is to imagine how it would like if it was a video, be it a film or a game cutscene. It does wonders to actually feel how it is inside the idea, and especially effective in dramatic situations and fights. What have more impact on the scene? How your character reacts in a situation? Visualize it rather than just place the words, it's quite fun and pumps your own emotions for writing.

Wait, people doesn't actually do that, automatically? I always visualize whatever it is that I'm writing/reading. Like it's all happening inside in some alternate dimension in my mind, and I'm seeing it with my own eyes, hear the sound with my own ears, smell whatever smell happens to be described with my own nose. It doesn't take over the writing, just add a layer on it. Are you saying that not everybody do that? o.O .


I'm the odd one out here, but I was never really attentive to aesthetics in the ways most are. Written words are my preferred way to experience a story. While it's true that a picture is worth many words over, and a moving picture can detail action in such a concise way that a novel could only dream of; I'm incredibly talented (too talented a lot of the time) at putting vague details together and drawing connections in seconds. It's because of what prose can't describe and leaves vague that I prefer it as a medium. I'm getting off an a tangent though.

Well written prose can do wonders for setting up an atmosphere, foreshadowing, and conveying character emotions and demeanor. It's the written form's way of skirting around the lack of visual cues while remaining concise. Conciseness is especially important to consider in RP. Think of RP as a collaborative writing project (because it is). You're not just writing for the benefit of readers, you have to give your fellow RPers enough to work with, all while keeping a scene on track.

Chapters of flowery prose can be fine in a novel, but you have to be more choosy when it comes to RP. Others have to read what you write to figure out their response. If it's setting up the atmosphere, pick a few things to focus on for mood setting. If you're trying to bring attention to a character's mood, focus on their body language. I think a mistake some make is feeling the need to touch on every possible thing they imagine when they examine a scene in their head, as Ichirin suggested.

In other words, don't feel like you have to describe and address everything in order to get your point across. This just isn't possible with writing. Try and you will fail miserably, and others will be far less inclined to read your frenetic novel. Remember, a word is worth a tiny fraction of a picture; quality over quantity is vital.

Prose isn't for everyone, and I'd say that if you're stopping and racking your brain on what you should describe and/or worrying that you haven't described enough, there's better writing techniques for you. Don't feel obligated to match the style of others, if you're forcing a certain way of writing just because it seems to work for others, you're missing the point.

Looking back at my posts as Nitori and things I have done differently as Kogasa, I'd say that I made the mistake of what I explained above with Nitori. I tried to describe way too much, and the posts suffered greatly because of it. If you've read them (I'm so sorry if you have), you'll notice that they take forever to get anywhere, and not a single one was finished. The latter was no coincidence. I ended up getting so lost in describing scenes and trying to think of everything that I burned out in a hurry.

With Kogasa, I tried something different. I adopted a more action oriented style of writing. No longer did I worry about describing things I saw every step of the way. 'For a direct action, a direct reaction' is the model I adopted.

In reality, it's just not feasible to respond to absolutely everything you encounter. There's far more information than the mind can process in your surroundings in any given moment. This is why the more you recall a memory, the less accurate it becomes. It's also how false memories can come to be. Your brain simply does not even try to process every bit of information it is exposed to. Instead, it only focuses on key details, filling in the unimportant parts in on the fly. If you are on fire, for example, you're probably not going processing that there is a bowl of 5 oranges on a table 10 feet ahead of you in the kitchen.

I started to keep this in mind as Kogasa. Take my thread with Patchouli, Ran, Satori, and Meiling for example. In each post, I responded to what immediately demanded a response. When Satori gave Kogasa a delusion based on a repressed memory, naturally I tailored my response around that. When Meiling offered hospitality to everyone, Kogasa didn't say anything. It wasn't important to her for one, and two, she had something far more interesting to focus on. Namely, figuring out that Patchouli could grant her a wish. Realistically, Kogasa probably didn't even hear Meiling's offer, being so excited about other things.

In each post I made, I assessed what was most important to Kogasa and acted accordingly, keeping in mind that a one track minded umbrella especially cannot afford the luxury of multitasking. Additionally, when I do spend words on description, it is mostly on actions. I think about what Kogasa is feeling, and then I think of how best that would be conveyed in actions. After that, I think about how to express those feelings and actions, finally putting them into words. I will say, I have had a lot of fun imagining how the karakasa might express herself.

Anyways, I'll end this here with an old adage. "There's more than one way skin a kasha, and a kasha has even more ways to skin you."

I think that's how it goes anyways. `-`a
User avatar
Kogasa Tatara
Forum/IRC Moderator
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Merlin Prismriver » 16 Apr 2013 11:01

Hmmm... You know, this brings me to a thought I had a while back. Does it matter to have short or long posts? I see some people can write long bundle of walls of text like it's nothing, and some just write it short and simple.

I'm not saying one method is better than the other, but is it? Should we write whatever we please, no matter how long, as long as it's pleasant, or should we keep it short so as not to waste too many time? Usually I try to keep the same pace with the other poster in a thread, but sometimes I do feel it too limiting to my ability. People do write in different style, after all, but sometimes, abrupt difference in length can be a bit jarring.
Image
User avatar
Merlin Prismriver
Main Character
 

Re: Writer's Workshop - Thread Idea Creation & Discussion

Postby Rin Satsuki » 17 Apr 2013 01:49

Merlin Prismriver wrote:Does it matter to have short or long posts?

Generally speaking, only write as much as you have to say and no more. If your character is listening while two others have a conversation, you might end up with a single paragraph while the others have three or four; there's nothing wrong with that, you've written what you had to say. If you can write more, feel free to do so as long as the extra length is actual content. For example, writing about your character's thoughts on (or not on - she might be daydreaming) the discussion unfolding in front of them is all well and good, but recounting the discussion itself is obviously redundant.

Rule of thumb - if you're only writing it for the sake of padding your post out, you shouldn't be writing it.

And on that note...

Merlin Prismriver wrote:Wait, people doesn't actually do that, automatically? I always visualize whatever it is that I'm writing/reading.

I always visualize the scene, but whether I describe that visualization is another matter entirely. One of the reasons that my posts tend to be so short is that I prefer not to overwrite other people's mental images of a scene, setting, or character with my own descriptions (the other is that I enjoy writing actions and thoughts much more than describing what things look like). It is possibly minimal to a fault, but I will leave that judgement to somebody else.
Chen has a good point, though you should never stray away from your writing style only for making things easier to the others. If you feel like writing a detailed description of the scenario or put more feeling into your character, do so.


This is generally true. However, if your writing is wordy to the point of being tiresome to read or so minimal that others find it difficult to reply, it probably does need to be changed. I doubt anybody at PoIR has that issue, though.
User avatar
Rin Satsuki
Software Admin
 

Next

Return to General RP Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron