5 Tips on Writing In-Character Para Samples →
Below the cut is a walk-through of how I write my IC para samples for roleplays. Please keep in mind that this is how I do things; there is no set way on how to write a sample.
As I stated before, each writer (and their range of skill) is different. This guide is a detailed walk-through of how I write my IC para samples based off my experience (a little more than a year of tumblr roleplay). For this guide, I’m going to use a biography from WandsandMagic-RP, a Harry Potter RP, that the amazing admin Kristen let me use.
01. Get to know the character you’re trying out for.
The biography I am using can be found here. I can’t tell you how many times I scanned this biography before I even began a rough draft. For starters, you want to pick up the basic, yet important, information that pertains to the character. For example, her name is Paxton Wolfe; she’s a 23 year old Slytherin alumni who is currently working at the Ministry of Magic as an Auror. From here, I begin looking for the not-so-obvious details: She’s ambitious, athletic, her parents were both Ravenclaws, and she sustained a serious Quidditch injury in her shoulder; she was trained by her mentor Wesley Peverell.
02. Brainstorm the setting.
In my roleplaying experience, most biographies have a certain event slipped in that can be used for a great IC sample. Using Paxton’s biography, I can pull out several different examples that could fit a para sample:
- Being sorted into Slytherin (first of her family)
- A Quidditch Game (Keeper & Captain)
- Quidditch injury
- An Auror caseHonestly, the possibilities are endless. In my case, because I am a part of this roleplay and know the basic plotline, I am privy to the information that came with the creation of this character: her, and several other Aurors, were transferred to Hogwarts. Because of this, I’m going to write from Paxton’s point of view when her mentor told her about the transfer.
03. Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.
I cannot stress this enough: dialogue makes a para sample golden (at least in my eyes). Adding in an interaction between a character and the one you’re trying out for will not only showcase your writing skills, but also how you portray the character’s personality. From Paxton’s biography, it’s safe to assume she’s sarcastic and blunt. We can use a small interaction between her and Wesley (her mentor) to show this.
Keep in mind, however, that you don’t want your entire para sample to be dialogue — only about 10 - 15% of it should be conversation.
04. Decipher, detail, and diction.
Now comes the writing portion of the IC para sample. I have a personal system I follow as seen above: Decipher (the biography), (write with) detail, and (use) diction. The first 2 steps give you an overview of deciphering the character you’re trying out for, while #3 is a form of detailing. Of course there are other forms of detailing you can add to your IC paragraph, but dialogue is one. Now comes diction. What is diction? It’s your choice of words. In my opinion, overusing words is a surefire way to lose your reader’s interest, so mix it up. Instead of saying Paxton one hundred times, you can use ‘she’ and ‘Pax,’ or even ‘The old Slytherin.’ I see this with adjectives a lot, as well.
Just remember that too much variety in words may confuse your reader. You don’t want them judging your application with Google in the next tab.
05. Perfecting the piece.
After you’ve written your para sample, make sure you GO OVER IT. Not everyone is perfect and mistakes are very, very possible. One of the main things admins look for are grammar / spelling / etc. when they look over applications (words straight from Kristen’s mouth!). This could be the make, or break, of your roleplaying. Just skim over para real quick, make a few changes, and when you’re pleased with it, send it in! Simple as that.
What else can you do?
While these are less important things to keep in mind, they are still huge factors that admins take into consideration. One of them is length; most roleplays have a minimum of two paragraphs for para samples — this does not mean write two and stop. Keep going! Explore your character and embrace their personality. I have never written a para sample shorter than five standard paragraphs. Another to remember is humor;this can go two ways — a quick banter between two characters is usually the direction I head in because it showcases personality and is interesting for the admin to read, but you can also head in the opposite direction and have a little fun with the character. Have them trip, or give them a thought inside their head. Liven the piece up; remember, this admin has seen a ton of applications and after awhile they become dull.
I even asked Kristen what she looks for in applications and she said that a grasp on the character is important. If you don’t know your character, or for that matter, show that you know and understand them, how do you expect the admins to? You have to give them something to work with.
Here is the para sample I wrote for Paxton Wolfe as an example to this guide. If you have any questions, my ask is always open. Remember to keep in mind that this is not the only way to write a para sample nor is it the perfect way to write one. This is how I do it, and in my experience, it’s been pretty successful.
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