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Brian J. W. Lee is a writer. When he's not writing, he's plotting to plunge the world in a deep chasm of terror, darkness and screams. Sorry, did I get carried away?

Monday, 12 March 2018


It's been a long time. I wish I could say that I have a novel well-baked and ready, but it's still far from it. Jake (the tentative name of my protagonist, which I feel is actually a little cheesy) is still prepping to rescue his girlfriend, and the world hasn't really gone to hell yet.

Anyway, I'm going to talk about something different today - a hobby related to writing that I've decided to return from retirement.


It's the direct application of writing for entertainment, pleasure. However, I'm nothing if not a little practical. So, I just have to ask myself: Is roleplaying useful in any way? Conversely, is it actually detrimental to professional writing?

By roleplaying, I meant over the internet, in a play-by-post forum. Basically, you create a character, and 'play' that character in a setting, usually in the same capacity as a writer who have control over the character, though some would directly take the place of the character (though this is far less common, and even actively discouraged). Your character interacts with others from your peers, and that's where most of the fun is.

Personally, my opinion of it is that roleplaying is generally detrimental to writing... But that's initially. However, I feel that the answer to this is far more complicated than a black-and-white thing, a yes-or-no question.

Let's break it down, shall we? We'll start with the negative impressions I have of roleplaying

- Lack of control. You can't control your character entirely, and you don't control the story, even if you're the GM (Game Master).
- Exposure and vulnerability to other egos. It is entirely common for other roleplayers to 'ghost' - disappear from RPs. Many will create problems and make a big hoo-hah for one reason or another. Others will seek to exert pressure on you, to alter your character, the story (If you're GM) or anything else.
- Lack of professionalism. You're among people who aren't necessarily writers, nor would they embody the traditions, virtues and discipline that published/self-published writers have. Hence all the above.
- Drain on time and energy. Some RP will take up time and energy that would have otherwise been used for writing professionally. However, if roleplaying is done alongside writing, it may still affect your writing.
- Roleplays don't commonly last long due to the above problems, and even fewer would be finished at all.

- It's good practice. You pump out words, and you might realise some truths because of it.
- It gives you access to an incredible resource. You get to read what others have written, and you might gain inspiration from them. You can compare notes, and improve yourself that way.
- Roleplaying is an excellent testing facility for characters you have in mind. You can 'test' to see how your characters would react to certain situations and other characters.
- It's habit-forming. It comes with the bit about roleplaying being good practice.

The Cons may seem to outweigh the Pros. However, this does not take into account the quality and real impact of each point. The truth is, it really depends on the individual. Personally, I find that it is actually good for new writers, since it's practice. Otherwise, I'm just doing it intermittently - and continue with the cycle of returning to roleplaying and then retiring once more.

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