Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The mechanics of a good RP

To clarify what I meant when I said that "all promos are RPs, but not all RPs are promos" in a previous entry, I wasn't referring to on-card promos (Hyde :p). Even though I still think that those segments are RPs (hell, anything you do for this hobby, be it writing a match or doing a segment on a card is an RP to me... you're still scripting actions for your character, a role you're playing. It's just you're not in front of a camera or you're not off in storytell mode, you're in the ring), when I refer to RPs and promos, it's referring to anything off the card that's used to judge towards a finish (RP feds) or to build a character up/develop his or her personality (RP or angle feds).

And to clarify this difference... it's mainly a difference between the FW bloc world and the PTC interfed world. I think I've probably gone on about this before, but here goes.

In feds on A1Wrestling.com, FWrestling.com and ENN, most people (and by most, I mean everyone except Bobby Nickens when it comes to match threads and everyone except Bobby, and sometimes, Lindsay, Pete Russo and Tard in character development threads) RP by cutting wrestling style promos, short-to-mid length, direct to camera speeches, in character, directed at an opponent or a storylined/angled situation. In PTC member feds, the mode of RPing is usually story-based narrarive, most of the time with third person narration(although some people write first person narration). It's totally done off-camera and depicts situations as they occur in a book. They're also mostly done as character development pieces, even if they're submitted to be judged for a match.

So there, that's my piece on why I can say promos are RPs but not all RPs are promos. :p

Anyhoo... now that I've specified that, it leads me into the meat of my post for this evening. What makes an RP good? I mean, we all post RPs (unless you're exclusively in ACW, fWo, LoC or any other angle fed), and we all agonize over whether they're good enough for us to win a match. A lot of times, we think our own RPs are phenomenal, or we see someone else's RPs and say to ourselves there's no way they're losing that match, and yet that person loses. What does that say? Well, it could say a lot of things, but the main thing it says is that "good" is a subjective quality. Which means we all have our own criteria.

So, what are my criteria?

Depth In an RP, your character is going to have something to say, whether it's through their words or actions. You can pretty much get your point across by saying anything, but some points are a little deeper than others. And there are a few points that are pretty much certain and don't need to be stated.

Like, we all know that your character wants to win his match. So centering a promo around the fact that your desire to win the match is greater than your opponent's is, or an RP about yoru character brooding about how much he wants to win the match should be out of the question.

And we all know that your character probably thinks he's better than everyone else, unless he's got low self-esteem. So going through a whole promo where you're talking about how much you're better than someone doesn't work either, or at least just stating it doesn't work.

IE... RPs need to have some kind of depth to them. They need to say something, anything. Good RPs build towards a storyline, they talk trash on the opponent in new and unique ways, they reveal something about the character. They go deeper than the "I want to win" or "I'm better than you."

Of course, sometimes, "I want to win" or "I'm better than you" works if it's just a theme. I mean, if your character's an arrogant prick, of course he'll play the better-than-you card, but a good arrogant prick will add different ways of saying or showing he's better than you.

And just to clear things up, having depth doesn't mean you can't be one-dimensional. Sometimes, one-dimensional characters can be very entertaining, because let's face it; there are plenty of one-dimensional people in this world, and those folks are sometimes entertaining (albeit intentionally sometimes). And since e-fedding should mimic real life in some capacities, one-dimensional can be good.

But you have to make sure that you have a lot of that one dimension to be successful.

SO yeah, you have to go a little deeper than just making your point, or out and out stating your point. Anyone can just come out and make one statement. You can come out and just make something short and dry and not put anything behind it other than stating your thesis and being done with it.

But to paint a picture with words or a story... that's the sign of a good RP.

Focus Anyone can go into a match and cut thirty different promos from thirty different perspectives. They could be thirty promos with good material, but each promo wouldn't work coherently, and each time you read the thread in its entirety, it's either as if it was thirty different people were cutting promos, or that person doesn't have a main focus going into the match.

That annoys me whenever I read a match thread and someone's going all over the place (this one pertains more to match promos/RPs instead of character development ones). Like, I know this was one of my basic pet peeves with Adam Benjamin for the longest time. It's like each one of his promos would be in an almost different voice, or like each promo he cut in a match thread was like his first in the sort of voice, tone and main idea. He didn't have focus.

It's something I've seen great improvement in, and it shows, especially now that he's the EPW TV Champion.

But stuff like that, it makes me wonder if folks sit down and think about the match and the implications of said match beforehand, if they have a focus, a thing that they want to say with their series of promos. Beacuse let's face it, with the exception of AWC, every RP fed I'm in or follow doesn't have an RP limit, so you have to be prepared to say want to say over more than just one promo. Otherwise, you're just long distance shooting without a sight on your gun.

Showing Ass The tendency with RPing is to put ourselves over hardcore. I mean, this is natural, because hey, unless we have low self-esteem, we're not going to readily admit that someone's better than us. And that's okay. The point of compettive RPing is to tell your audience that yes, you are better than someone.

But as with wrestling in the ring, selling is an important point. You can look really good in the ring and win matches even if you let your opponent look good with his offense.

Of course, selling in the ring and in the RP arena are two different things, and you go about them in different ways. You can sell in RPs by admitting that, yes, your plan did go wrong, or yes, someone got the better of you in the past, by having a foil present to remind your character that he fucked up or had the better gotten of him, or you can even absorb a really good line your opponent zinged at you by putting him over briefly.

But if I read a promo where every loss by that character is referred to as a fluke, or where every good thing about the other character is no-sold... well, I can take it one of two ways. If your character is an arrogant prick, then I'd say it works with the character well. But if your character isn't, then I'd say you're a bad RPer and you don't deserve to win your match.

Levity I know most people are loathe to do comedic characters, and most everyone wants to get over the OMG seriousness of their character's storyline or persona, how everything's life and death.

But if you read too much of that, it gets boring. Much too boring. Besides, wrestling isn't meant to be too cinematic. It's so carny at heart that a lot of the characters are meant to be caricatures, and even the real people get over from time to time by getting a laugh or two.

So if you can get a laugh or two out of me in a promo, you're more than likely to get my seal of approval. Of course, not every character has to be a laugh riot, and even if you don't elicit a chuckle, I can still dig your character.

But you can have levity in your RPs and not be funny. It's all about straddling the line between "serious" and "pretentious." I hate pretentious stuff, and honestly, what do you have to gain in this hobby by being so artsy that only two or three people will get it? It's all done for fun, so you might as well just try to be as light as you can with it.

Topicality Anyone can do an RP about family issues, or about internal strife or even about mowing the lawn for crying out loud. However, what place would that have in the wrestling world if there was no mention of wrestling in it? I've seen this in the PTC world more than anything, but some folks have a tendency to eschew wrestling or their opponents in their RPs.

I mean, character development's a key thing to do, and it's very important to see what your character's motivations are, but if you can't tie those motivations into wrestling, then what are you doing in an e-fed?

You can still be talking about wrestling and still be off-topic as well. If you spend more than half of a promo in a match thread talking about someone or something else than your opponent, then I don't see why you're even bothering trying to win that match.

So if your character is having family troubles... then tell me how that's impacting his performance in the ring, or how it's distracting him from the bloodfeud he's in. Because if you don't tie it into wrestling then you might as well be writing a short story or a movie screenplay.

So there are my five ingredients for a good RP. Odds are, if you got all of the above, I'm going to like your stuff.

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