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How to Write a Really Good Open Thread?


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I.... struggle so hard with writing good open threads that people find it easy to hop into and roleplay with me. I feel like I never know when to end them at a comfortable place or I always provide too much detail in the opening (and it gets looong).

 

I admire people who can write a short, particularly simple opening thread and leave so much potential. I don't know how to do this.

 

I really need some guidance. Anyone have some sound advice for me (and anyone else that's struggling)? 

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oh open threads. you either love em or hate em or both. i've got some tips that may or may not be helpful. i love writing open threads, and finding creative ways to do so.

 

pacing - pacing is super important and often overlooked. jones made an excellent point - your post should end on a hook to invite the other character. make sure not too much happens before the other character jumps in, or else people may lose track of what happened or not want to respond to a reaaallly long post for a thread that might not work out. jones' had a good outline for an open post, but mine - personally - would be:

 

1 - set the scene

2 - introduce the conflict

3 - hook the character

 

you don't need only one paragraph for each, but keeping it short will make it easier for people to write up a post for you.

 

make it relevant and interesting - a good way to get people interested is to write something that's relevant to the site setting, plot, or your character. is your character searching for something, such as a clue to their enigmatic backstory or an old friend? the open thread can be for someone to help them with their goal. is there a conflict in the site's setting? have your character get swept up and need rescuing, or maybe rescue someone else. you appear to be on a stray dogs rp - your character may end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, or get into something they're not supposed to. 

 

a lot of people will make their open threads a throwaway coffee shop meeting, but a thread with plot is a lot more appealing to join.

 

the hook - since we're mentioning hooks, it'll probably help to explain what a good hook is. you want to strike a balance between open-ended enough to let anyone come in and giving people enough information that they have an idea of what you want. if your character needs a rescue, you want to write something to the effect of "if someone doesn't come quick, they'll be done for." 

 

what you don't want to do is write the character's action before they show up. saying that they do help your character and then having your character thank them will turn people away. just leave off at the spot where a character would feasibly be able to step in.

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My big problem with open threads is that I have zero attention span, and without anything to respond to, I get bored with my own writing and the quality just drags, which is why mine end up being on the shorter end and then get longer as the replies go on.

 

When I'm READING an open thread with the intention of joining, I tend to jump right to the situation that the character is in, skipping the introspection in the beginning. That can come later; I want to know how the protagonist arrived in their particular situation and how they might come across my character. It's really hard for someone to jump into a thread where Character 1 is just walking down the street, minding their own business (although I'll confess I've written those as well.)

 

I know some people who write in the next character's entrance into their opener, and I'm ambivalent towards that approach, because on the one hand it builds in a reason for my character to be there, but in doing so it loses some of the character's own motivations. When I do it, I tend to leave it simple, usually "X character noticed something in the vicinity."

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Not all my opens are great or even meet my own "rules" for a solid open. That said, wherever possible, I do everything in my power to avoid "meet & greet" opens because I hate them 😛 Your job as the starter is to establish a problem to be solved -- it could be something intense like "everything is on fire" or something more nuanced and internalized. The job of the player responding is to contribute to the situation without resolving it immediately.

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I avidly avoid writing openers because, frankly, I tend to dislike not having a general idea of why my character is there to begin with or what they're going to be doing. One way I got passed this was with a character I had who was a dealer...with memory issues. Oh the fun that would result.

 

Most of the time if I can't take the lazy way out i'll write something relevant to whatever is going on in the board, such as my own sort of mini-event, but not technically. Something that feels "fitting" for the location, setting, characters and so on. 

 

The worst thing someone can do is make a casual boring meet n greet in a super hero roleplay or a passer-by thread in a crime based roleplay. Putting the rp setting itself into the thread in some way is a good step into stringing together something worth responding to. After all, the writer joined that site for that sort of stuff. 

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If I wasted my time on everyone, I wouldn't have any left for myself.

- A.

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  • 2 months later...

Good lord, open threads... bane of my existence. ._. I really struggle with these. But I guess...

 

+ use an interesting but sensible setting. make it possible for a character to feasibly get to yours. if you're on mt. nowhere it's hard for another player to give reasons as to why their fella would be there!

+ give the person an entry into the thread. 

+ create conflict, danger, tragedy, humor, what have you. have your character accidentally set something on fire. or get hit by a cart. or get into a bar fight and hit the wrong person. i dunno.

+ when in doubt, use a writing prompt generator and adapt it to your needs, lmao.


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