I’ve long been of the opinion that roleplaying is a key way to improve your writing, especially dialogue skills. I like to think that dialogue is one of my strong points and it’s certainly the part of writing that I enjoy the most. The reason I believe I’ve been able to develop a talent for writing believable, natural-sounding, and enjoyable dialogue is an awful lot of roleplaying as a teenager.
Everyone will think of something different when they hear the word ‘roleplaying’. For me, it means burying myself in a character, thinking and responding quickly as them, and having a really good laugh. My first proper experience of roleplaying was pretending to be a character from the Harry Potter series with a group of friends on the internet. It was silly, irreverent, and incredibly funny. It also taught me to think on my feet, to quickly cook up responses in-character, and woe betide anyone who slipped off the grid for their character. The game was fun, and it was excellent training for honing in on a character’s voice and learning how to channel their speech.
I recently got into roleplaying games again, though nowadays I play them more for the fun and social aspect than the writing. To anyone who would knock ‘geeks’ who shut themselves inside to play Dungeons & Dragons or Warhammer – these types of games are actually far more sociable than sitting in a busy, noisy pub or club. It’s all about a collaborative storytelling experience, and can be incredibly atmospheric.
So if you’ve never tried this sort of thing, maybe you should. Don’t let the geeks have all the fun.