A good description is a point of reference for a lot of players. In particular, many will decide from your description whether to take your character seriously or dismiss you as a lolplayer. First impressions are important, even in text. My earlier posts about this topic (here, here, and here), I gave some good advice for improving a description, but it was pointed out to me that I said nothing about how to start one. I aim to correct that now. If you don’t know by now, I play Raslazel in the top MUD Achaea from Iron Realms Entertainment. I’m a long-time writer and roleplayer and I know a thing or two about MUDs.
1. Get a notebook. When starting a description, a notebook is the easiest way to view everything at once, rather than having to scroll up or down to see it. It helps visualise things and brings a personal touch to it.
2. Write a list of features in the margins and draw little pictures, if you like. Anything to get the ideas flowing is a good thing. For example, imagine these scrawled in the margins of a page: dwarf - short, around 4 feet - dark, greasy hair of indeterminate colour – flat, ugly features, very blunt – small beady eyes. Use these things as a basis.
3. Think about the things you notice about a person first. For me, it’s their overall build and height. No need to be too specific. If I were writing it for a character, I might begin, “He is a stout dwarf standing at around four feet. Almost as broad as he is tall, his shoulders and body are quite wide.” There’s no need to be too specific, just let people use their imaginations. After that, I tend to favour hair and facial features followed by all the minute details.
4. Look at the finished product of this and move things around. The idea is to make it natural, putting details in the order that you would notice them. Physical deformities are high on this list.
5. Once you’ve got the first draft done, rewrite the description using the original as a guide. You’ll be surprised how much better it gets after you’re finished.
6. You should be ready to post. Short pieces like that start to suffer after more than one draft, so it should be good to go.
There you are, the basics of description writing. At least, this is the method I use and I get complimented for my descriptions a lot. Hope it helps and happy MUDding!
If you have no idea what I’m on about, you should try playing a MUD. MUDs, especially top MUDs by Iron Realms Entertainment, are a great source for finding fellow roleplayers and having a lot of fun. Completely free MMORPGs are few and far between, but IRE offers multiple opportunities to earn credits (in-game currency that can be used to buy powerful artefacts and master skills) without spending even a penny. Have a look, you can even play them as browser games!