Home > Play-by-post discussion > How can you only allow good writers into your game?

How can you only allow good writers into your game?

writing on paperWe all want our roleplaying games to be a great experience, to be fun community, and a place where our members express ourselves through their characters. Also we want to read really interesting stories from other members in the group, and it’s really annoying if the game gets filled up with terrible writers.

We only want to allow good writers into our game

Not everybody is an award-winning author, not everybody is that great at writing. But it helps to be competent, and come up with good stories that everyone can understand, follow along with, and join in with their own characters.

If you’re the GM of a game, you have to make a decision about who to join your game. You’re under pressure to only let good writers in, otherwise bad writers might ruin everything.

How do you judge a good writer?

There are many ways to judge a writer, but almost all of them involve reading a lot what they’ve written. If a member wants to join your game, you might not be able to see their previous writing, but of course there’s nothing wrong with asking for examples. You could also ask for a personal recommendation, possibly from the GM of the last game they played in, but this might not be relevant if they are new to text-based roleplaying games.

Judge a good writer on their character biography

Take a look at the character biography that the person has created. You’ll be able to tell if they’ve taken some time over it and how much effort has been put in. This doesn’t just mean that the best character biographies are going to be really long and have a lot written about the character’s backstory, and deep meaningful details about their psychology, a well written biography should also be concise and tell you all the information you need to know without having to be overly wordy and verbose.

Character Bio’s should be written with ones best ability. The more detail you can put in your bio, the more likely it is that you’ll put that same level of detail into your actual writing. If someone submits a bio with only one line for each section, then they’re not worth even reading. If you can even throw humour into the bio, then that adds a spark that not many can pull off. Essentially, I read the bio as if it’s a post. If it holds my attention enough to finish it, then it’s a good bio.

SMAndy, GM of Reapers Union, GM of HMS Sovereign

OngoingWorlds allows you to approve or deny members

In OngoingWorlds a member who wants to join your game is encouraged to create a character biography along with their submission. As a GM, you’ll be emailed this character biography, and you’ll be able to view it on the site in the “Pending Members” section. Here you’ll be able to see all the members who want to join your game and the character biographies they’ve created.

If the quality of their biography is any indicator you’ll be able to assess how good you think this person is, and then make either of these decisions:

  • Approve them – This joins them to your game, and allows them to post their stories to your game.
  • Deny them – This deletes the character biography they created and they’re told via email that they’ve been declined from joining your game. You can put a personal message on the email explaining why they were declined.

If you haven’t yet created a game on OngoingWorlds, you can get started here.

What kind of things do you do to ensure that you’re only letting good writers into your game? Please let us know in the comments below.

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  1. February 8, 2011 at 7:26 am

    We use a writing sample on our application. It’s a very simple scenario, and we ask for about 250 words. You can tell from about the first two sentences if someone is going to be able to hack it in the group. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to characterize and build a scene, but at least you know that their writing will be easy enough to get through.

    • February 14, 2011 at 7:55 am

      That’s a great idea, there’s many ways that you can check that the members you’re letting into your game are going to be good writers. I’ve known groups that have a really long and strict series of writing tests, to some that just accept anyone hoping to find at least one good writer amongst them.

  1. May 22, 2011 at 10:56 am

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