Tutorial: How to clearly play two characters in one post.

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LittleWing
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Tutorial: How to clearly play two characters in one post.

Post by LittleWing »

I have noticed recently that several people have been playing multiple characters in one post.
This is really cool, in my opinion, but it can also get very confusing for other readers.
So, here I figured I would suggest some little ways to make it easier to understand.
While the writer knows what the scene is supposed to look like, and they understand what is going on, the readers cannot see what is going on in their head. They also may be interpreting the scene differently than it was mean to be, therefor derailing a perfectly good story!
In this tutorial I will post the same story twice. First the unclear way, then the cleaned up way. I will also explain why I changed things.


Seven O'clock rolled around on the clear, lazy Saturday. The dull hum of the television was all that kept the two friends entertained for the time being. They had been sitting around, bored and lazy all day. Sibuna the Jackal turned to Littlewing, the Owl.
"I'm bored and hungry." "Me too." "What do you want to eat?" "I don't know."
This was a fairly normal conversation between the two. Both were very indecisive.
"How about pizza?" She said, picking up her phone.
"We had pizza yesterday."
They both got quiet again and turned back to the TV.
"Up next on The Edwin Shore, Snaki runs her mouth too much and gets punched in the face!" "I've been waiting for this episode!"
Sibuna looked at his phone. "Aren't you hungry?" "Yeah, but I want to watch this." "Well...I guess we'll just order pizza again."
Seven O'clock rolled around on the clear, lazy Saturday. The dull hum of the television was all that kept the two friends entertained for the time being. They had been sitting around, bored and lazy all day. Sibuna the Jackal turned to Littlewing, the Owl.

"I'm bored," he said, looking up at the clock, "and hungry..."
The owl looked over to him and nodded in agreement.
"Me too," she agreed, before turning back to the television.
Her lack of enthusiasm, irritated Sibuna mildly. He was growing impatient.
"What do you want to eat?" His ear twitched once as he asked this. Both ears though, flattened against his head when Littlewing simply said "I don't know."

This was a fairly normal conversation between the two. Both were very indecisive.
"How about pizza?" She said, picking up her phone.
The Jackal groaned and tolled his eyes.
"We had pizza yesterday."

Neither said anything after this, but instead turned to the TV again.
The commercials ended and a new show started.
"Up next on The Edwin Shore," the announcer yelled with both enthusiastic and dramatic tones, "Snaki runs her mouth too much and gets punched in the face!"
Reality TV was more or less the only thing that ever played on the old television set that sat on the table in the roommates' house.

"I've been waiting for this episode!"
The excitement in Littlewing's voice was slightly over-the-top. Who would have thought someone would be so interested in such an annoying show. Leave it to Littlewing, of course.
Exasperated,Sibuna looked at his phone.
"Aren't you hungry?" He asked. This wasn't so much a question, but more or a push for her to get off her butt and go get food.
The owl's eyes didn't leave the screen as she replied
"Yeah, but I want to watch this..."
Sibuna knew that he had lost her at this point.
"Well...I guess we'll just order pizza again."





As you can see between these two, the second one takes a little bit more effort, but it is also a lot easier to understand. Let's look at the differences.


Seven O'clock rolled around on the clear, lazy Saturday. The dull hum of the television was all that kept the two friends entertained for the time being. They had been sitting around, bored and lazy all day. Sibuna the Jackal turned to Littlewing, the Owl.
This part is the same in both stories. It simply sets up the scene. Easy enough. There is no dialog here, so it is fairly easy to understand.

Next we have 4 different sentences, all of which as being spoken.

"I'm bored and hungry." "Me too." "What do you want to eat?" "I don't know."

"I'm bored," he said, looking up at the clock, "and hungry..."
The owl looked over to him and nodded in agreement.
"Me too," she agreed, before turning back to the television.
Her lack of enthusiasm, irritated Sibuna mildly. He was growing impatient.
"What do you want to eat?" His ear twitched once as he asked this. Both ears though, flattened against his head when Littlewing simply said "I don't know."


Instead of just writing what the characters say, it helps to explain a little bit who says what, But, you don't want to simply write:
"I'm bored and hungry" said Sibuna
"Me too," Littlewing said.
"What do you want to eat?" Said Sibuna
"I don't know," said Littlewing.

That gets boring quick.
So it helps to describe how they characters say things, also the actions in between the dialog.


They both got quiet again and turned back to the TV.
"Up next on The Edwin Shore, Snaki runs her mouth too much and gets punched in the face!" "I've been waiting for this episode!"

Here it is never explained that the dialog is coming from the television and then that Littlewing is reacting to it.

Neither said anything after this, but instead turned to the TV again.
The commercials ended and a new show started.
"Up next on The Edwin Shore," the announcer yelled with both enthusiastic and dramatic tones, "Snaki runs her mouth too much and gets punched in the face!"
Reality TV was more or less the only thing that ever played on the old television set that sat on the table in the roommates' house.

"I've been waiting for this episode!"
The excitement in Littlewing's voice was slightly over-the-top. Who would have thought someone would be so interested in such an annoying show. Leave it to Littlewing, of course.

Here we are describing that there was an announcer speaking about the TV show; not only by the description between the dialog, but also by the sentence afterward.
Sometimes instead of putting the action tag (He said, she said, they said, etc) at the end or beginning of the sentence, the dialog can be split and the action tag can be put in between the two parts. We see this in "Up next on The Edwin Shore," the announcer yelled with both enthusiastic and dramatic tones, "Snaki runs her mouth too much and gets punched in the face!"

Sibuna looked at his phone. "Aren't you hungry?" "Yeah, but I want to watch this." "Well...I guess we'll just order pizza again."
Here again we have the issue of dialog being put into one confusing string.
Do not ever put dialog in one line like shown above.
Each time a character speaks, it gets it's own line, as seen below.

Exasperated,Sibuna looked at his phone.
"Aren't you hungry?" He asked.
This wasn't so much a question, but more of a push for her to get off her butt and go get food.
The owl's eyes didn't leave the screen as she replied
"Yeah, but I want to watch this..."
Sibuna knew that he had lost her at this point.
"Well...I guess we'll just order pizza again."


Whenever a character speaks, the dialog is given it's own line.
Also, each piece of dialog does not need an action tag on it. Your next sentence can allude to who said what with having to write "Said the jackal", "he said", "the owl stated", or anything similar.






I hope that helped a little bit.
If you have any questions about this, feel free to ask!
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Re: Tutorial: How to clearly play two characters in one pos

Post by Rainwhisker »

Thanks. I dunno how often I fall prey to this (I hate playing 2 characters in general for this exact reason) but I'll keep this advice in mind.

Also, a way I found to easily discern 2 characters apart is to play the scene from only 1 character's perspective. That is, in my opinion, more effective in another example than the one you described - a writing that's fuller in personal thoughts and opinions or viewpoints, in such a case it's usually best to keep 1 chapter/post/act/section/whathaveyou restricted to 1 character's view, so all things that's seen, heard, felt should only be interpreted by 1 character at a time, and limiting other people to just their physical actions (again, which is only what the main character of the chapter/post/etc sees or interprets).
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LittleWing
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Re: Tutorial: How to clearly play two characters in one pos

Post by LittleWing »

Yes, this also works very well.

Another thing that needs to be kept in mind is that when you write a post, keep in mind that it is not only a reply, but also a story for someone else to follow and build off of. This goes for any post.
Sometimes people forget that someone else is going to have to reply to them; the only way someone can reply is if they understand your post.
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