Back in the day I took a course on Educational Psychology. According to my professor, the key to knowing what intervention to use when working with a particular kid was timing. My professor felt so strongly about the idea of timing that he wrote a song about it. He also made us sing it. In class. Repeatedly. While you won’t get to hear this song–not unless we ever have a WTTRP Podcast–I have to agree with my professor about the importance of timing in RP. Timing, including the pacing of stories and story arcs, scheduling time for RP and questing, AND writing fic, is key to good, consistent RP.
If a story arc about your toon’s fall from grace and subsequent return to glory occurs in the span of three weeks, you rushed the arc. If your toon has been pregnant for over a year, not only do I feel bad for your toon, but you took too damn long to get it done. Pacing stories, and the arcs they are contained in, is not an easy task. RP happens with your group. This means your schedule, and your circle’s schedule, have to coincide. If one adds up:
- Real life responsibilities
- Time for Alts
- Down/Recharge time
Then scheduling time for Arcs can be as complicated as raiding. In addition to the all-important communication between parties, the successful pacing and plotting of arcs requires patience and deadlines. I will not try to figure out which is more difficult. For some, patience is a breeze. For others, patience’s is a skill that they never developed. Assigning realistic deadlines, while a boon for some (like me) is a pain in the ass for others. Regardless, if you are writing or developing the arc, you need to set the pace. I suggest that you talk about how long you want the story to take with the circle before you start RPing or Ficcing. I also suggest frequent conversations with everyone who wants to participate in the story AND with other individuals who are running story arcs.
Timing also includes how, and where, we find our characters in any one arc. Let’s say your toon is involved in three stories. You are running story #1, you are ficcing a bit part for #2 and you’re playing a confound in #3. I firmly believe that it is possible to participate in all of the stories. If we take a look at our own lives, we can see that our own stories involve a number of moving parts: planning a big event, working, going to school, down time with friends AND down time for ourselves. Therefore, it’s entirely possible for our toons to do the same thing. We need to keep our timing/timeline straight for this though.
While WoW does have Mirror Images, let’s be honest: Mirror Images aren’t the most efficient way to conduct your character’s overbooked RP schedule. Unless the point of the arc is to overburden your character and confuse the timelines, players have to try and stay consistent with the timeline over all.
For instance, a few weeks ago, a friend and fellow RPer came to RP Night for an arc that was already ficced. The problem being the characters in the Pig, at that time, we’re ready for that storyline yet. While everything worked out beautifully in the end, there was a bit of scrambling to figure out the timeline. Thankfully, our circle is patient when it comes to these matters.
Scheduling time to quest/gear up/raid and to write are also important to the timing of stories and story arcs. To be fair: We play WoW in order to experience the content Blizz created for us. RPers just like to add their own stories to the mix. There are some titles, gear and instances that our toons should have experienced. So play the damn game and enjoy it. Just keep in mind you have to schedule time for RP and, if you agreed to fic something, for writing. RP happens with other people, so don’t leave your group hanging.
Timing is a difficult, but necessary, art that one needs to become proficient in. One cannot have a moment of badass, increase their ABV, or realistically contribute to their circle without having a good understanding of timing. The best way to work on timing? Communicate, be patient and schedule your time. At least, that’s my understanding of timing. How do you feel about the need for timing? Do you have any other factors we could use to improve our art, or did I miss the point entirely? Feel free to share!