Let's face it - Good roleplay is fading away. More and more, it's becoming a thing of the past, a myth! It's dying before our eyes, and there's not much we can do about it. That's not to say RP itself is dead; in fact, RP is very much alive! But folks, let me tell you, there is a very distinct difference between good RP, and bad RP.
Let me give you an example. Last night, I was doing some [rare] guild RP as a dwarf in The Golden Keg tavern. As my drunk character fumbled his way into a seat accross from only the most plain of dwarven women, a level one female human warlock runs up to me and my two pals, wearing the very same robe they started in, exclaiming this (and I quote): "this is a robbery give me all ur money." The period in that sentence was non-existant. After a moment of ignoring them, they persisted in saying "give me all ur money!" Once more unpunctuated. Then, after several more moments of being ignored, the warlock said "fuck u guys" and ran away. This is a prime example of bad RP, and let me tell you why.
The very first and most basic necessity for quality roleplay is proper grammar and punctuation. If I'm approached by someone for random RP and they begin with not using punctuation, I get very uncomfortable. I cannot possibly take that seriously. Nine times out of ten, that person also has no knowledge of Lore or how to play their particular race, which is confounding. And it's a rapidly spreading virus! Practically everywhere you go in Stormwind, you can overhear people having unpunctuated, poorly done conversations in character. Why even bother if you're going to do it as shittily as possible? Typically if I'm approached by someone like that, I just log out. No one likes you, figure out how to write.
Which brings me to my next point. Good RP is characterized by your ability to immerse yourself realistically into the plot through the use of... Well, most aspects of creative writing. Understanding how to at least use commas to separate thoughts and periods to end sentences will take you quite a long way, and those are the very bare minimum. Simply a period at the end of one sentence shows me more character than an entire unpunctuated epic. I instantly like you more, am willing to listen to you, and consider you a human being. That being said, however, you can overpunctuate. For instance, I notice some people have a habit of placing '...'s in between every couple of words. I don't know why they do that, and it bothers me a lot. Some others use extremely short statements as sentences, and have a period at the end of every single one. That's where a comma would come in.
The other important portion of good RP is, of course, knowledge of Lore. You absolutely cannot RP without Lore. If you don't know the world's and your race's Lore, then you might as well just not bother. You see, when you read up on Lore you're far more accurately able to understand your own character for a variety of reasons; You'll be able to decide where he hails from, and therefore how he interacts with others, his opinions on current events, his backstory in accordance with Azeroth's history, his current living situation, occupation, and everything in between. So, if you're a human sitting lonely on the bridge between the Trade District and Old Town and someone walks up and asks what's got you looking down, you can accurately respond, "I'm just contemplating the war in Andorhal, my old home." Lore is non-negotiable. You need to know it.
"But Ghill," you might be asking, "Where can I learn Lore?" Well, let me give you some pointers. For one, reading the novels is a great source of knowledge. They're a great read, to boot. Or, if you aren't the bookish type, why not play Warcraft III, Reign of Chaos and it's expansion, The Frozen Throne? Those will have you mostly up to date with Azeroth in no time! They tell the very most recent history beginning from the outbreak of the Scourge into the Third War, and then Arthas' descent into madness and his joining with Ner'zhul atop Icecrown Glacier. Very worth playing. And if you've done either of those or neither, then you best head on over to Wowpedia. A month ago I'd have recommended Wowwiki, but the folks there have stopped updating the site, and it's a poor source of information. Wowpedia is where it's at now, and you can learn all you need to know there. I suggest starting at the origin of the Draenei and the Orcs on Draenor. That'll take you through the First and Second wars, as well as the shamanic revival of the orcs, the founding of Durotar, and... Well, I could go on forever.
Anyway, this has been the first installment in a series of guides to having quality Roleplay for the Roleplaying beginner. Stay tuned for the first character guide: Humans!