How to: make your poses less repetitive


  • Pitcrew

    So I've been at this hobby closing in on two decades (sound of screaming) now. A couple of months ago I dug up some super old logs from when I played on SouCon. They were pretty awful because I was a teenager buuut something I noticed was that I was using a lot of the same wording then that I do now.

    I've made an effort since then to change up how I write things, I don't exactly want to keep writing like a 15 year old. My question today is, how do you folks keep your writing fresh/dynamic/evolving? Any resources that you like to check out or just a conscious effort to switch up stuff?



  • @thesuntsar I wish I could tell you. I still can't manage to type the word 'thigh' without having to correct it from 'thight' every single time and I've been doing this since 1996.


  • Politics

    @thesuntsar said in How to: make your poses less repetitive:

    I've made an effort since then to change up how I write things, I don't exactly want to keep writing like a 15 year old. My question today is, how do you folks keep your writing fresh/dynamic/evolving? Any resources that you like to check out or just a conscious effort to switch up stuff?

    It has to be a conscious effort.

    When I came back to the hobby a few years ago, I started to interject acting directions into my poses. For example:

    Ripley stares at Claudio. "That's nice. I can see where you would assume that; however, that's not the case, and that was never the case." She looks away. "And I'm sorry that you thought that, but that does not change how I feel or what I want."

    That became something like:

    Ripley looks to Claudio. "That's nice." Beat. "I can see where you would assume that." Another beat. "However, that's not the case, and that was never the case." She turns from him; looks away. "And I'm sorry that you thought that." Break. "But that does not change how I feel or what I want."

    Now, my pose might look something like this:

    There's an awkward silence before Ripley finally looks at Claudio

    "That's nice." Beat. "I can see where you would assume that." Another beat, as if to signal a change in mood. "However, that's not the case, and that was never the case." There's a note of finality in the end.

    She looks away then.

    "And I'm sorry that you thought that." Break. "But that does not change how I feel or what I want."

    And then Ripley says no more.

    I'm not sure how I feel about my newer style, but it has challenged me to write that way. Normally, I write like I'm trying to punch a hole in your eyes with words.



  • I'm by no means great at it. Anytime someone is able to identify me by writing style, I feel like I've backslid and didn't try hard enough to make a character have a unique voice. That said, I usually try to think of mannerisms unique to the character, and try to build a unique voice there. I tend to try to incorporate that not just in the language the character uses, but the overall poses and emits, in thinking of phrases and wording that fits the flavor of the character, for a style that really fits them.

    A thug might get a very curt, simple, low brow style of writing. A pretentious and arrogant academic might get a grandiloquent one. These can definitely be overdone and I try to not be overwrought but I think it does help to try to come up with a number of different styles that fit overall archetypes.


  • Pitcrew

    @ganymede I enjoy your Rp style! I mean, I hardly get to Rp lately, but it's great!


  • Pitcrew

    I'll say this first:

    There's nothing wrong with writing at a '5th grade reading level.' In point of fact, that can be a good thing. I think part of why people 'get lost' in scenes or forget what happened in previous poses is that they struggled to process what those poses said. We need to write for comprehension. We're trying to write to tell a story, not to compete for who has the most florid prose.

    Two big things I've taken from the various blog posts and talks that Neil Gaiman has done over the years on writing are this (I wish I could find the exact quotes/posts, but I'm a big migraine-y today, so please forgive):

    • You are not going to abuse the word 'says/said'. Our eyes naturally gloss over it and it makes you rely more on show, don't tell. Why go for "Stop that," she grouched, when you can use "Stop that," she said, glowering at him? This one took me a while to really grasp onto because I thought 'No! My manuscript will be full of says/said and look repetitive as fuck!' But the more I made myself do it, the more I realized: it forces me to show, not tell, and the reader's eye really does gloss over those two words easily. Whereas the other words we'd fill in are ultimately passive and crutches.
    • Write freely at a middle grade level. Revel in it. Enjoy it. Don't stress if you can't remember that 5-pt 4-syllable word. Who the fuck cares. If you're writing at a middle grade level, guess what? Your work can reach a broader audience. Now, this more applies to writing for publication, yes... But for our purposes (RP), it also means that people can absorb your poses more readily (a) and you can have greater freedom of exploration (b). I find it a lot easier to figuratively stretch my legs and play around with language when I can be casual and sprinkle in those more descriptive terms than if I'm trying to build an entire pose -- each and every round -- around being verbose and expansive.

    But I also wholly agree with @Ganymede. Stage directions are good. Exploring the way people move is great. The more I dug into describing the physical stances, directions, and movement of my characters, the more I opened the door into my poses. It's the difference between just 'crosses her arms' every time and 'clutches at her elbows, all but folding in on herself' or 'crosses her arms, shoulders back' which are two very different stances and emotions being expressed!


  • Pitcrew

    @auspice said in How to: make your poses less repetitive:

    You are not going to abuse the word 'says/said'.

    Yeah I've given up on trying to be clever about this. I just 'say' everything now, it lets me focus on other things.

    Also broadly agree that especially in MUSHing, I try to focus my writing on clarity, succinctness, and immediate impact. Over the years I have gotten very minimal with it. I find that writing too densely or too 'purply' makes it twice as hard for people to easily absorb my poses to figure out what is going on -- and I find a certain challenge in conveying 'more with less.'

    Where I focus on making characters distinguishable from one another is in their dialogue.


  • Pitcrew

    Anyone who's played with me knows that I favor the concise approach to posing. Less is more. Hemingway was a lot of unlikeable things, but his prose style is something I've learned to really enjoy when it comes to my RP, because it makes my poses comprehensible and comprehensive.

    Good tip: Count your commas. If you count your commas you start to notice what you use them for; if you're using them to add clarifications to your statements or main phrases, chances are you are just repeating shit that doesn't require it.


  • Pitcrew

    I'm going to add to this:

    Read. Read good literature from a variety of sources and authors. Read good logs. Let how someone who knows the craft well, seep into you. @Coin brought up Hemingway and his style does work well in a MU setting. The more you read, the more good writing will seep in and you will get better.

    Additionally, when you're enjoying a scene, pay attention to how your partner is posing and try to learn from the experience.


  • Admin

    Now and then I re-read a pose I just sent out and sigh because I repeated a certain word too much. The obvious fix for it is to re-read them before I hit enter; after editing and rephrasing things a few too many times it happens.

    Other than that I don't worry about it too much. I roleplay a certain way, I write a certain way, and there are those who enjoy it yet not everyone necessarily will. I'm okay with that.


  • Pitcrew

    @arkandel said in How to: make your poses less repetitive:

    Now and then I re-read a pose I just sent out and sigh because I repeated a certain word too much.

    I will say, everyone latches onto certain words sometimes. Even established authors.

    Read Piers Anthony's Wielding a Red Sword (published 1986) sometime. I swear that man had just learned the word occidental right before writing that book. It showed up so often that when I read it as a teenager I wanted to meet him just so I could ask WHY.

    But that's the other thing you'll see if you read a lot. That authors have certain words and turns of phrase they favor, too.

    You can also always run your poses through this tool: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
    It'll help identify things like legibility, passive voice, how many adverbs you've used (don't abuse those too much).


  • Pitcrew

    @auspice said in How to: make your poses less repetitive:

    You can also always run your poses through this tool: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
    It'll help identify things like legibility, passive voice, how many adverbs you've used (don't abuse those too much).

    That APP is the best thing ever. I remember discovering it yeeeeeaaarrrrsssss ago and more than one character has had pretty much every word I type for them go through it.


    Important: if you are a writer or fancy yourself a would-be writer and you are also RPing--do not treat RP like you treat your craft. I'm not talking about tricks and styles like what @Ganymede posted above--that's great and it'll help tons. I'm talking about rhythm, the dynamism of the scene, and otherwise treating RP like you are writing and wanting to use the same voice you use for writing as you do for RP. So many people I know have told me "I RP all the time and then when I wanna write something just feels off and I do it the same way I don't understand" and I am like--welllllllllllllllllllllllllllll that's because they're different.



  • @lisse24
    I find the style of what I'm reading at any given time really creeps into my RP. Which can dry it out when I'm on a big straight non-fiction kick (which I have been lately for whatever reason).

    I make a conscious effort to vary the WAY I pose (mixing straight : with ;'s and @emits) but it's easy to fall into ruts. Cool thread idea.


  • Pitcrew

    @coin said in How to: make your poses less repetitive:

    Important: if you are a writer or fancy yourself a would-be writyer and you are also RPing--do not treat RP like you treat your craft.

    100%. I find MUSHing and writing are completely different and require different skills/approaches. Not least of which because the former is inherently collaborative.


  • Pitcrew

    @three-eyed-crow said in How to: make your poses less repetitive:

    @lisse24
    I find the style of what I'm reading at any given time really creeps into my RP. Which can dry it out when I'm on a big straight non-fiction kick (which I have been lately for whatever reason).

    I make a conscious effort to vary the WAY I pose (mixing straight : with ;'s and @emits) but it's easy to fall into ruts. Cool thread idea.

    I like to ape styles, when I notice patterns, and then try to apply each style to a character. So maybe I write one character in a Hemingwayan style, very informative and with little introspection and almost no metaposing (even harmless metaposing); and then another character will be nigh-Lovecraftian (though usually still concise) in word-choice and turns of phrases; and then another will be jovial and self-deprecating and everything they say comes with a witty metapose comment like something Dorothy Parker might do.

    I'm obviously using popular writers who I can never do justice to, but I try for the lulz anyway.



  • @coin
    I also love Hemingway and that style of writing which - along with all of my professional training being in journalism rather than fiction - makes me staccato and kinda boiled down by nature. I sometimes try for more lyrical flourishes but it just feels weird and I dun like it. I do think finding a unique voice through word choice/sentence construction is really fun, though, and reading good and varied authors takes me up a notch. I need to break deeper into my bookshelf.


  • Pitcrew

    @three-eyed-crow said in How to: make your poses less repetitive:

    @coin
    I also love Hemingway and that style of writing which - along with all of my professional training being in journalism rather than fiction - makes me staccato and kinda boiled down by nature. I sometimes try for more lyrical flourishes but it just feels weird and I dun like it. I do think finding a unique voice through word choice/sentence construction is really fun, though, and reading good and varied authors takes me up a notch. I need to break deeper into my bookshelf.

    I really like using Hemingway as a base and then kind of just poking at it with other stuff. Mix Hemingway's rhythmn with Lovecraftian word choices, for example. Super fun (and usually what ends up happening when I ST supernatural stuff, since I gotta keep it brief, informative, but also weird as shit).

    Recomendation: read John Shirley. I really like him and you might, too. Mostly his short stories, though; his novels have left something to be desired. If you can find it (maybe Amazon???) try to get his Really, Really, Really, Really Weird Stories. It's divided into sections, each one adds a "Really" and they get, obviously, progressively more weird and fucked up. If not (or if you like it) Black Butterflies is another anthology, divided into "This World" (realistic fiction) and "That World" (fucked up shit).



  • @coin
    One of my favorite authors (who's done devastatingly lyrical non-fiction along with his fiction work) is Luis Alberto Urrea. He mixes stark description with almost-poetry in ways which I will never match, but which def make me better.


  • Pitcrew

    I used to be more purply. Then I read Chuck Palahniuk, and realized that shorter sentences punched me in the face a lot harder. There were a lot fewer words to muddle through before I got to the point.


  • Pitcrew

    When I first started Mushing the norm was very short one to two line poses, or at least it was in the groups I was in. As time passed and block posing became the norm, I started having anxiety about the length and quality of my posing, so I started really paying attention to the poses of people I thought were really good. Over time I started figuring out what it was about their poses that I liked and started incorporating it into my own. I think @Apos nailed it when he says it helps to have a defined archetype to develop unique characteristics for your characters. I usually try to fixate on an aspect of my character that makes her distinct from my others. A singular quality that I can turn into their dominant tone.

    All that being said I still worry that all my characters are exactly the same. I know I've had drastically different characters in the past, but there is a certain core element that ties them all together. And I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing, it is what makes it possible for me to relate to them.