So, being the paradigm of posting beauty that I am (not), I have decided, per Tommy's recommendation, to write my first advice column on the subject of roleplay grammar. Though some of you may raise your eyebrow at me and passionately declare "KENT, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS GRAMMAR IN ROLEPLAY!", I will ignore you throughout the entirety of this write-up and prove to you that proper grammar a better post makes. No, I'm no grammar professional, but I always had an A in English class, so that has to qualify me for something, right? I should get payed to tutor......
Anyway, let's start off with the most basic of grammar rules- spelling things properly. Seems simple enough, right? Most of us can undoubtedly spell about seventy to seventy five percent of the words in the English language without having to really think about it (don't go looking up the actual average, I'm just shooting a percentage out of my head). Thing is, we don't always care to notice if we're spelling words right, do we? If you say yes, you're lying (or, maybe not.....I'll give you the benefit of the doubt). Spelling, though, is the easiest of all grammar issues to solve with as little effort as possible.
If you're not one that completely butchers words, but instead shifts letters around from time to time, typing up posts in Microsoft Word can help you slay a spelling problem. The built-in program will correct some minor mistakes for you, and the bigger ones will have a big old red line underneath them. You don't necessarily have to type in Word for this to work- make your post on-site, copy-paste it to a Word Document, and it'll toss all your mistakes up there for you. Still don't know how to spell a word, even when you've been informed you've made a mistake? Some Word programs have a built-in system that gives you a list of words you were possibly meaning to spell. You can also do what I do, and put the beginning of the word into Google if you're not sure. Heck, Firefox even points out some spelling errors. If you don't even know where to start in spelling a word, ask someone. It's nothing to be ashamed about, and people will appreciate your posts more if you'll ask instead of typing 'Peter Parker wuznt anniwhur two be sceen' because you're not sure how to spell a few words.
We know how to spell now? Good.
Speaking of 'seen', I've thought of another problem that sometimes comes up in posts. People substituting words for their homophones. *insert joke here.... What? I'm a professional...* Homophones are two words with the same sounds, but different meanings. Seen, scene. Bare, bear. Brake, break. You get the point. It's not rare for someone to spell a word wrong by using the homophone instead, and that can sometimes throw the meaning of a sentence (heck, even a whole paragraph) off from time to time. Consider if your character had a broken leg. Yelling "Hit the break!" instead of "Hit the brake!" to someone in a car speeding straight towards your character would likely result in a very painful situation. Homophone errors are harder to spot than spelling errors, because sometimes, Word won't even notice. The best way to combat this problem is by simply reading your post. Doesn't take long, and if it was bad enough that you don't want to see it ever again, it probably wasn't worth posting in the first place. Just sayin'.
Sentence structure! Don't run and hide! Yeah, I admit, I'm not the sentence structure champion by any means, since I like to use way too many commas in one sentence, and thus, my writing becomes very choppy, sort of like the water in the Hudson Bay, or somewhere similar. [/example of truth] Sentence structure isn't as big of a problem in roleplay. Heck, odd sentence structure sometimes enhances meanings you wish to convey when you use it properly to convey a meaning. However, when one of your paragraphs reads something like.......
Since he wasn't really up for much of any crime-fighting tonight. Really, Peter Parker wanted to go home and go to sleep. He didn't. Because he didn't want to leave the city to its own devices. That would have been selfish. He'd never been a selfish person. But when things had gotten this bad he couldn't help but feel worthless. Like he couldn't make a difference.
.............you're not using good sentence structure. This is how you could combine the above....
|Since he really wasn't up for much of any crime-fighting tonight, Peter Parker really wanted to go home and go to sleep. He didn't, though, because he didn't want to leave the city to its own devices. That would have been selfish, and he'd never been a selfish person, but when things had gotten this bad, he couldn't help but feel worthless- like he couldn't make a difference.|
Sentences require a noun (sentences is the noun of this sentence), a verb (require is the verb), and an object receiving the action from the verb or linking back to the subject (noun, verb, and object all refer to what is required in 'Sentences'). You can toss in your occasional dependent clause if you like (this would be something like "When Peter Parker ran along the roof, he could feel the wind in his hair.", where the part of the sentence from 'When' to 'roof' is a dependent clause referring to the time Peter 'could feel'). Since I don't want to confuse you anymore than you probably already are with epic grammar lingo, I'll leave it at that and remind you that flawless sentence structure does not necessarily a good post make. Just read some of the posts from some of our best writers, and you'll see proof of that.
Punctuation. Punctuation is fun, mainly because it's easy to explain. Periods should always come at the end of a full statement or declarative sentence. Question marks come at the end of.......wait for it......questions! Commas break sentences into little pieces so you read "He was part of the SHIELD, HAMMER, CIA, and FBI organizations." instead of "He was part of the SHIELD HAMMER CIA and FBI organizations.", since that makes it sound like there's a 'SHIELD HAMMER CIA' organization (which, I must say, would be pretty badass). Quotation marks surround quotes. Hyphens separate compound words (worry-wort). Apostrophes show possession (Kent's toy) and help to make contractions look sensible (don't instead of dont). I think I can stop with this now, since most people can pull off punctuation. Just remember- even if a sentence is within a quote, it still needs to have a period or a question mark.
In closing, I'll say that paragraphs have always been considered to be four to seven good sentences in most grammar circles, so keep that in mind when posting. Otherwise, I can't really think of anything else, so everyone feel free to search this article for every grammar mistake I surely made. Honestly, improving your grammar is probably the easiest way to improve your writing as a whole. Once you're writing well-punctuated paragraphs with almost no misspelled words and complete sentences, you'll find that the quality of your posts will increase exponentially. This is your (handsome and charming) administrator, Kent, signing off.