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RP Etiquette and Grammar Tips


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RP Etiquette and Grammar Tips

In this post you will find tips on Building Settings & Leaving Build On Openings, Paragraphing, Common Tense, Speech and Thought Formats, Acronyms and Common Punctuation & Grammar.


Building Settings and Leaving Build On Openings

Unless your RP is a Solo one, you need to make sure that you write enough for another person to reply to. Try to give out details of your setting and appearance for your partner to reflect on in their post. Remember, if you define what is in a room others can play off it.

If you set up that there are three arm chairs around a large round table, and there is a tea stand on the far wall of the room, next to a bookcase, that gives your RP partner many options to move their character around.

Likewise, if you mention what your character looks like in that moment, they can share their characters thoughts on your appearance.

Every detail you give them to adds to the options they have to add to fill out their in their next post, and to be able to leave some details of their own for you to build off of in your next post.

Each new post in an RP should move the story forward slightly, bring in a new idea or give the characters more information than they had. Be sure to give enough details about what is happening to have another character carry it on.

Remember that you cannot play another person's character,and they cannot play yours. Likewise, your character cannot know things about the other character that they did not mention or your character, such as their thoughts or feelings or how they came to have something.

Try to end your posts in a position where your RP partner and carry on the plot, by leaving your post in a position where the next poster needs to either move their character, reply to a question or give thoughts on their current situation.



When RPing through writing it can be reminiscent of writing a book, and it should be. Think of how books are written, and try to follow that structure.

Here is a quick description I tampered with from a wikipedia:


A paragraph ... is a self-contained unit of a discourse in writing dealing with a particular point or idea. A paragraph consists of one or more sentences. The start of a paragraph is indicated by beginning on a new line. ... In fiction, each paragraph serves to advance the plot, develop a character, describe a scene or narrate an action—all to entertain the reader. All paragraphs support each other, leading the reader from the first idea to the final resolution of the written piece of work.

Essentially, break up your story into chucks to make it easier to read. A constant wall of text is hard to process, whereas using spacing when you change thoughts makes it easier to understand and retain information.


Common Tense, Speech and Thought Formatting

As paragraphing makes your point easier to comprehend, so do using cohesive tenses, speech and thought formatting.

Here in the DM Roleplaying Groups we have decided to use specific formatting within RPs to make all posts easy to read no matter how many people write together.


We write RPs in third person, past tense. This means writing using words like 'she walked', or saying 'Kathleen felt' instead of 'I feel'.

The exception to this third person, past tense format is when your character is meant to be thinking or speaking in an RP.


Speech should be written in first person, present tense. This means writing what your character is saying as if they were talking in that moment, "Can you please hand me that book off the book case?".

To make it clear when your character or another character is speaking please use quotation marks around everything they say. So it should look as follows:


Kathleen sat down in her favorite chair only to discover she had left her copy of Battle Strategies for Dummies on the book case across the room. She turned her gaze to the woman on her left and with a sweet smile and pleading eyes she asked, "can you please hand me that book off the book case?".



Italics should not be used for speech or descriptive/action text unless the purpose is to provide emphasis to an individual word or phrase. For the other exception to this rule, please see the Thoughts section below.




"I didn't think," she muttered as her face burned with shame.


Thoughts often help fill out a post, and explain your character's motivation or feelings without making them known to the characters around them. It can help the reader understand your character's point of view, or just be fun for you to explore the inner workings or thoughts of your character.

This can be hard to for your RP partners or other readers to know the difference between what is really happening that their character could respond to, and what is just a thought in your character's mind that they will not know.

Just like with speech, we use first person, present tense when conveying thoughts.

To make it easy for everyone to pick up on what your character is thinking, as opposed to what they are doing or saying, we use the italics function to indicate any thoughts.


Kathleen sat down in her favorite chair. It wasn't until she was comfortable in it that she noticed she had forgotten her book on Battle Strategies for Dummies on the book case across the room. Blast, I had meant to read up on the tactics of war tonight! Oh, but I don't want to get up. Perhaps, if I can convince some sympathy, this young girl will get it for me, she thought as she turned her gaze to the woman on her left. With a sweet smile and pleading eyes she asked, "can you please hand me that book off the book case, Sally?".



Please write out the full version of words, and avoid using short forms, text talk and symbols in your writing. Think of it is writing a book, and think about how they are written.

Instead of using the term 'info' use 'information'.

Instead of saying 'She set the table with a fork & spoon' write 'She set the table with a fork and spoon.'

Write 'there were seven unopened letters in front of her.' instead of 'there were 7 unopened letters in front of her'.

Write out proper titles, so Mistress of Novices should be fully written in RPs, not MoN. White Tower should be written so, not as WT.


Common Punctuation and Grammar

Elgee had once written out a very in depth guide with the do's and don't of common Grammar and Punctuation use. I will not attempt to emulate it, but I will copy it below.

Here are tips on using Commas, Semicolon, Apostrophe, Your vs. You're, Its vs It's, Should Have, Cannot vs. Can Not, Ours vs Our's and Dash




Words that "set the scene" do not always start the sentence; they could appear at the back or in the middle. You only need a comma when these words appear at the front of the sentence. This is very handy to know. Look the examples below:

At 4 o'clock, the new manager, David Bain, will visit. (correct, but too many commas)

The new manager, David Bain, will visit at 4 o'clock. (correct - much tidier)

It is common for a sentence to start with an introduction. An introduction can be anything from just one word to a long clause. In general, an introduction is used to state a time, a place, a condition, a frequency or a fact before the main part of the sentence. (Introductions vary hugely.)


In the centre of London, the number of people who fell victim to pickpockets rose by 30 per cent in a month. correct (sets a place)

As soon as the cake is golden-brown, take it out of the oven. correct (sets a time)

Yesterday, the manager visited the stables. correct (sets a time)

On Tuesday 4th July a band played carols in the park for 8 hours. X
("On Tuesday 4th July" sets a time. It is an introduction and should be followed by a comma.)

Having spoken to John, I can confirm that the meeting is definitely off. correct
(states a fact)

As you are well aware, the latest figures do not look promising. correct
(states a fact)

After the secretary had read the minutes of the meeting, the chairman asked for the financial report. correct

A band played in the park for 8 hours on Tuesday 4th July. correct

On Tuesday 4th July, a band played in the park for 8 hours. correct





Transitional phrases are common. Most of the time, a transitional phrase will start a new sentence. However, you can use a semicolon if you wish to bring it closer to the original sentence. You cannot do this with a comma. This is a very common mistake.

It is extremely foggy, nevertheless, the game will be played. X


The error described above is called a "comma fault". This error is most commonly seen with the word "however".

I am leaving on Tuesday, however, I will be back on Wednesday to collect my wages. X
I am leaving on Tuesday; however, I will be back on Wednesday to collect my wages. correct
I am leaving on Tuesday. However, I will be back on Wednesday to collect my wages. correct


When the word "so" is used to mean "therefore", it is a transitional phrase and should be followed by a comma.

We are not in a position to fund the changes. So, the current system will remain until at least April when it will be reviewed again. correct





The weather's bad. correct
(Written in full: The weather is bad. In this example, the apostrophe replaces the letter 'i'.)

Don't think about it. correct
(In full: Do not)

What horse c'ant you ride? X
(The apostrophe is in the wrong place.)
(Should be: isn't)
(In full: is not)

You're & Your, It's & Its



"You're" is short for "you are".

You're a naughty boy. correct

"Your" is not short for "you are". It is used to show possession.

This is your PC. correct
This is you're PC. X
Your a star. X


"It's" is short for "it has" or "it is". (There are no other uses.)

It's stopped raining, and it's sunny.

"Its", on the other hand, is similar to "his" and "her" and is used to show possession.

I'm near the whale. I can see its tail. correct
This is it's fourth journey. X
(its would be correct)
Its as easy as falling off a log. X
(it's would be correct)

Should Have & Cannot



"Should've" sounds like "should of", but it is short for "should have". (This is the same for "could've" and "would've".)

should of X, could of X, would of X


"Cannot" is one word.

I can not stand in the rain for too long. X

Although rare, it is possible to see "can" and "not" as two separate words. However, this is never an expansion of "can't".

She can not only sing but dance too. correct

Ours vs. Our's:



Words like "ours", "theirs", "yours" and "hers" do not have apostrophes in them.

These books are ours. correct
You can use our's. X
I saw theirs'. X




Confused about colons, semicolons and three dots? Use a dash. The dash performs all the functions of the colon, the semicolon and three dots mentioned above.


He blamed his divorce on one thing - beer. correct
(replaces a colon)

The sales team meet on Tuesdays - unlike the floor managers who meet on Wednesdays. correct
(replaces a semicolon)

The team requires another person - namely, Adam Richards. correct
(replaces a semicolon)

No one was hurt - the only injury was a broken finger. correct

As I moved the bushes, I was not confronted by the deer I had been tracking for two days, but - a Bengal tiger. correct (replaces three dots)

A credit card stolen from a woman in Devon was used to pay for a Chinese meal 18 hours later - in Hong Kong. correct
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