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The Basics of Good RPG PBeM Writing

Written by Rebecca Tifft-Donovan


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6. Contractions

While often used in everyday speech, contractions are inappropriate for writing and should not be used outside of dialogue.

Wrong:
Tonight she'd finally begin her revenge on the House of Mennocin. "If this shipment is as large as you claim, Gregor, I'd say it was worth the wait."

Right:
Tonight she would finally begin her revenge on the House of Mennocin. "If this shipment is as large as you claim, Gregor, I'd say it was worth the wait."

7. Apostrophes

Though usually helpful punctuation can be easily misused in a variety of ways.

Wrong:
The horse snorted, clearing the scent of blood from it's nose.
Lucas's arm hung limply at his side
Groa circled to the wagon's back.

Right:
The horse snorted, clearing the scent of blood from its nose.
Lucas' arm hung limply at his side.
Groa circled to the back of the wagon.

It's is the contraction of it is. Its is the possessive form of it. Nouns ending in s should not have the standard 's added for possessiveness, instead only the apostrophe should be added. Inanimate objects should not be given the human quality of possessiveness as shown in the third example.

8. Commas

I have noticed that comma errors fall into one of two categories: over-usage or under-usage. Errors of either form can easily lead to writing that is difficult to understand at best. Try to keep these guidelines in mind when using commas.

Commas should separate any phrase that is unnecessary to the sentence. The following example could simply read:

Sample: The bandits attacked the caravan in a fury.

Should Read: The bandits, riled to a murderous rage by Groa's moving speech, attacked the caravan in a fury.

Dependent clauses should also be separated from the main independent clause of the sentence by a comma.

For her part, Groa fought with a determination unmatched by any of the bandits.

Commas should separate phrases beginning with which, but not those beginning with that. Phrases beginning with that often limit the preceding noun while phrases beginning with which often give more information.

The bandits slaughtered the caravan guards that did not immediately surrender. The caravan, which was loaded with supplies of weapons, was stripped clean.

Do not use a comma to join two sentences together. Instead, restructure the sentence, form two sentences or use a semicolon.

Wrong:
The bandits returned to the encampment, they celebrated their victory.

Right:
The bandits returned to the encampment to celebrate their victory.
The bandits returned to the encampment. They celebrated their victory.
The bandits returned to the encampment; they celebrated their victory.

When listing items, commas should be used between each item. The use of a final comma before the and at the end of a list is a question of style, just remember to be consistent. Either of the two examples below would be correct, but should not be used together.

When tallied, the raid had cost the bandits one horse, twenty arrows, and the services of two men while they recovered from wounds. Groa considered the raid a success, however. The bandits recovered three cases of steel swords, fifteen quivers of arrows, three prisoners and two casks of ale.

9. Commonly Confused Words

Be sure to use the proper word for the meaning you intend. Some words to watch out for are: affect, effect, there, their, and they're.



By combining proper use of grammar and punctuation with an intriguing story, you have the beginnings of great narrative. Weather used in a pbem or in straight fiction, I hope that these basics have helped. Good Writing.

Further installations of "The Basics of Good RPG PBeM Writing" will appear with more common mistakes, style hints, as well as questions from our readers. If you have a question you would like to direct to this column, please send it to Veleda.

For those interested, this article contains 2505 words and 10% passive sentences. It has a readability of 69.8% and a grade level of 6.6.

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