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Mar. 8th, 2006 @ 10:07 pm A Guide to TinyPlots
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kb - road rage
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Current Music: "Hit Me Baby One More Time" - Weezer (cover)
One of the things we promote here on FireflyMUX is the idea that you can create and run your own TinyPlots for your character/crew or a large group of people without needing it to be staff run. This gives you a certain level of responsibility and accountability for development among your characters, which is great, because it puts you in control of your evolution! However, we understand that writing TinyPlots can be a daunting and difficult task, so we put together this little guide to try and make it easier. No one is ever going to tell you "this is exactly how you write a TinyPlot" - but what we hope to accomplish with this post is to give you some guidelines to help you create a well-rounded, organized, interesting and relevant TinyPlot that will run smoothly.

Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Does your TinyPlot make sense? Ask yourself when you begin writing, 'Why is this happening? Does it make sense within the context of the game and characters involved?' If you can't answer those questions, reevaluate your TP. There should be a reason for these things to happen; that reason can be anything from character development to the development of a new skill to the beginning of a larger-scale storyline. It's assumed that all TPs are done to have fun, but all TPs should also have a secondary justification.

2. Is your TinyPlot consistent with the character(s) involved? If the majority of your TP revolves around a certain character, make sure that it's consistent with that character's background. You shouldn't be rewriting your character's background just to suit a TP; if you get into that habit, your character will change fundamentally with each TP, and other players will never get a concrete idea of who your character is. If you find that your TP isn't consistent with your character's background, look for ways to alter it to suit your character better.

3. Do you have a goal in mind? You don't need to know exactly how your TP is going to turn out, but you should have a vague goal in mind. You don't need to know the outcome of your TP to know what your goal is! Your goal should be closely tied to your reason for running the TP, such as learning a new skill, introducing a new character, etc. You can have more than one goal, and not all your goals need to be fulfilled for the TP to be considered "successful". Having more than one goal ensures that all of your work will not be for nothing (though it wouldn't anyway, because it's all about the fun!), and it also allows you to involve more characters.

4. Does your TinyPlot have a timeline? You don't have to know exactly how long it will take, but you should have a rough idea of how long the TP will run under ideal circumstances. Rough estimates are fine, such as "a week" or "two months". Of course, you should also keep in mind when writing your TP that sometimes, things will get delayed due to unavoidable outside influences. People get sick, people get busy, people lose their internet connections, other TinyPlots run long - so while you should have an idea of how long it will take to run it, you should also be considerate and understanding if it takes a ltitle longer than you expect.

Guidelines for TinyPlot Writing

1. Be flexible. While you should have a basic skeleton of how you'd like your TP to go, you should also allow room for new ideas and input from other players. Do not "overscript" your TP; it will only lead to disappointment and frustration. No one likes to be told exactly what they need to do in a scene to get to the specific end that you have in mind. Similarly, no one likes to be disappointed when people don't do exactly what the creator wants them to do. Have your skeleton, but leave room for different changes that may happen.

2. Ask for help when you need it. Running TPs can be complicated and time consuming, especially if there's a series of scenes that need to happen and several NPCs that need to be in those scenes. There's no shame in asking others (staff or trusted players) to help you with your TP. Many players are more than willing to help you out! You can ask players directly, or you can post an open call on the bulletin boards or on the LiveJournal community asking for volunteers.

3. Let staff take over for you if you can't run your TinyPlot any more. External factors can't always be predicted, and from time to time you may be unable to see your TP through to the very end. This doesn't mean the plot has to die out without any kind of resolution! Should you be incapable of running your TP once it's begun, don't be too shy to ask staff to take it over. We would rather see a TP finished and have all the players walk away happy with closure and resolution than simply letting it die out. Everyone puts a lot of energy and effort into these stories, so they want to know how it turns out!

4. Keep staff apprised of your TinyPlot ideas and developments. While you're encouraged to run your own TPs, it's in your best interests to discuss them with our TP/RP staff before you begin. Sometimes, they may interfere with other things we may have running, and staff can guide you to a better timeline to get your TP off the ground as smoothly as possible. Other times, staff may have some insight into where you can take your TP or some input about your idea that you haven't necessarily thought of before. In all cases, it's just a good idea to tell us what you're up to! We like to know that things are going on, and it helps us to keep tabs on everyone if you tell us what you're doing.

These are just guidelines. There is no one way to write a TinyPlot, nor can one be said to be "right" or "wrong" when writing something like this. These are, however, valuable things to keep in mind while writing your TinyPlot to make sure you get the most mileage you can.

And of course, remember that staff is always around if you need help with any aspect of writing or running your TinyPlot!