I was asked about this, and I know there are guides out there. I figured that I’d compile everything I’ve ever learned about improving my writing from RP and studying English as one of my (two) majors in psychology along with links to some prompt sites that could help you with your para samples when they have to be ic since it’s already been established that the best way to write a para sample is to make the character do something instead of just sitting and thinking about the past. The guide is below the cut. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask or link me to a resource through my submit. Everyone’s writing has specific issues. If you have a character account and want me to give you suggestion specifically I can do so privately. Just ask from that account and I’ll take a look.
The start of this is specific to starters and para samples. It does get less specific as it continues.
As an admin, I personally don’t like to see a character just sitting there in a para. And yes, when I’m looking at apps I do look at length as a factor. If I have three applications, one of which is 200 words while the others are much longer I’ll be more inclined to spend time on the longer ones because that is the style that I like to write. Not because it’s not okay to write short paras. I know it’s hard to write a long ic para, but that’s what prompts are for.
Remember how not Godmodding is a rule in every RP? That means you shouldn’t do it. It’s okay to put people there, but you as the other writer should never control their speech, mostly. When you write dialogue for both characters, you’re writing more in novel style than para style in my opinion. Have your character reacting to something that happened. Maybe they got into a fight with their spouse. You could start with them yelling at their spouse, and continue to them storming out of the house and going for a beer. Something like dialogue with the bartender would be okay because it’s brief and not one of the characters in the RP. Have them drink and fume about it if that’s what the character is like. Not about everything that has ever happened, but about that specific moment. Maybe they get drunk and start to rant and ramble to whoever will listen. Have their speech get slurred. They could then go to get back in the car, perhaps. Or get into a fight. Action is good, but so is thought. Too much of one of the other depends on the character, but a para should never be entirely either.
If you are writing less than what you want, don’t start to fluff to fill it out. Unimportant details are just that, unimportant. Yes you can put them in because I love them. They make the scene more real for me when you tell me what things look like, but don’t ruminate on it because there’s no point. Unless the exact colours of the flannel shirt your character is wearing has some deeply important meaning, you don’t need to tell me all of them several times. Once is enough. Also, using more words to say the same thing isn’t always better. Yes, flowery language is sometimes nice, and yes it does make it look longer. But when you do that you tend to choose bigger words that often don’t mean exactly what the smaller word you had in mind meant. Don’t swap out words if you don’t know exactly what they mean, and don’t ever try to sound smart or like a better writer than you are through your word choice. Sometimes smaller words say more than big ones. Also, two words can have the exact same meaning and have different connotations. For example, above I used ruminate to describe the way of thinking - going over something again and again. But in a para if it was something negative, I would always choose to use the word harp or something like that because of the negative connotation even though it doesn’t take up as much space or sound as smart. The rightword is always better than the long, fancy word.
What you should do if you don’t write enough to start to add more action and thought. Get your character to do something. Pacing nervously can be the start of something bigger because it opens the door to a lot of thought, and it can lead to another event that you can write about. But don’t have your character start to sing and then just write all the lyrics to the song because that is the most annoying thing ever. Your para is long when you do that, but it is not helpful and it is not your writing. I will reject you right away if you do that.
If your writing is long, but doesn’t have a lot of content it’s harder to tell. A lot of people will treat it like a good thing, but it’s not. If your writing is wordy and doesn’t say anything, it’s fluff. The first thing they teach you as an English major in my University is that you need to learn to recognize fluff and cut it out. Yes, it makes your para shorter, and then you might need to do what I’ve suggested above, but it also makes your para better. People look for content because it’s the most important part of a para.
Here are some writing prompt sites you can use to start things off for a sample para, or even a starter. Again, if you want more tips or need specific help don’t be afraid to message me.
Here you’ll find tons of prompts and it is updated frequently. Not specific to RP, but still very useful.
Creative Writing Prompts has tons. Mostly for breaking out of writers block, I find, but some will still work.
Here are 13 beautiful writing prompts. Mostly setting related, but that definitely helps.
This forum thread has a bunch of prompts from roleplayers.
These prompts are amazing.