A long, long time ago, (well, in 2003), I met someone named Alyssa on a message board. We started doing silly stuff on there with exchanging a “story” because the message board had a glitch where if you previewed the message, you could place whatever name there you wished. (This was before we have the now-traditional message board layout.)
This little exchange evolved into a story over the next six months and then over the next year to two, it become a four book series (which we never wrote up, except for the first one.) This story became known as ETOLT, based off of my username when we began (lizard tongue) and my evil twin causing chaos for her.
From the spring of 2004 until she went to collage in 2009, we wrote so many stories. We role played them. She would take some of the characters and I’d take some and we would just exchange back and forth between the two. We had some awesome stories, everything from an arranged marriage between a girl who previous eloped, was sold as a slave a month later by her husband, and then was rescued by the person she was arranged to marry and told that they would live completely separate lives, to a man who decided that being a torturer was too much and too stressful on his family, so he ran away to another country.
If we were to actually write all of our decent stories, we’d probably have close to 20 to 30 books. Obviously, we won’t, because we both write our own stories as well. We did however write the first one ETOLT story, but never got around to doing an incredibly serious edit. (We wrote it over three years or something like that and our writing skills developed a lot during that time, mine particularly.) If you really wanted to buy them, she actually self-published them for her graduation as two separate books: For Isrian, Breaking Dawn and then a conglomeration of various other stories. from that same series.
Anyway, I learned some very valuable skills from role playing for that time and if you can figure out how to do it and a friend who can, I highly recommend it. And… I was going to make a post about what I learned (which I might add) but I think that I’m going to first say how to start this.
First of all, obviously, you need a friend who can exchange posts with you. I found it perfectly fine just to do it with just one friend. If you have a lot of friends involved, it will go much slower and you can’t plot as much.
So we now have a friend. Next, you need a place to exchange posts. If you want to at all save these messages (You do, trust me. I just spent two days reread a lot of our stories.), you want to use a message board. I highly recommend proboards We’ve had only slight issues with them once, and they fixed that problem. Compared to MSN (which forced me to reset safari every couple months and went so slow sometimes that we’re talking minutes to load a page) and any of the other places, this one is by far the best and easiest to use. And it’s free too. Always a bonus.
So, we now have a friend and a place to write. Next, you probably what a story. Sometimes, we just started writing, let the characters figure themselves out. and go from there. So long as you can plot at the spur of the moment, it might not be a bad idea. Just have a clue about what kind of plots work best. We knew that we could never just do a general girl falling in love with guy story. We always had some other complication, like, their marriage arranged; he thinks she’s flakey and stupid; he thinks he’s married to someone else who he loves but who is dead; he doesn’t want to be married at all, she’s had bad situations with her last marriage; he’s a criminal; she killed his sister as a spy, ect.
Sometimes, we would have a situation that the character just found themselves in, like in one of our stories the character just found herself without a family, her house sold because of debts, and completely alone. We then decided after one scene that she should be married spontaneous (We usually had our stories take place in fantasy lands, so spontaneous and arranged marriages worked well for us.) and my friend plotted him, I had her, and everything went rather well.
Finding the story is the hardest part. I will admit that right out. Some of the best parts about finding a story is that you get to keep secrets/plots from your friend, anything from something little to something huge. Plotting is the best for these, because you don’t always know how the other person’s characters will react, whereas with your own writing, you pretty much do.
After that, you just start writing. We wrote it like this:
*puts out the food* So? Who is she?
Mary is her name.
And who is she? How’d you meet her?
She’s a maid at the palace. I met her at work.
In this, I was Sue, she was Jonathan. Each of the different dialogue exchanges was a different post.
Obviously, a huge drawback about writing like this is you can’t change much of anything. Once it happened, it happened, and you have to just keep going.
You also probably want to have a certain time to write this back and forth. Without having a set time, the story will go very slowly unless you are together for some amount of time. In high-school, we wrote it for hours at a time, from about four until nine or ten at night.
I will admit, I miss doing it with her. We’re talking about this summer writing one of our stories out for real. (Which, I’m not fully sure how that is going to work out, considering that I have summer school and work (hopefully).) I can’t wait. It was really awesome to do.
Probably in the next real post, I’ll mention some about characters and why this helped me so much.
One more bit of advise. When choosing a friend to do this with, find someone with similar values and morals as you. We only went so far with some things, where as someone with less stringent morals might have done much worse than we did.