John on Gnome Stew recently posted advice for GMs to get their players more involved in the storytelling. As a player I can tell you it’s not easy to be dramatic when you’re not that into a particular scene or you’re having an off night. And then there’s the potential for embarrassment factor, especially if you’re not a dramatic type, such as myself. Johnny’s advice is for the DM to ask certain leading questions at various points in the story to get players involved in sharing the description.
If you want to want to become a more descriptive player, don’t wait for the GM to prompt you. If you’re not sure what to do, pretend like you have a “little GM” inside your head asking you the questions John mentioned. For instance, when you score a hit and your first thought it is to say “I whack him with my longsword for 12 damage” ask yourself “was it a big around-the-head Conan the Barbarian-style hit or was it more like quick jab through past his attempts to parry, scoring between the gaps in his armor?” It’s easy to think of a cool scene from a movie and replace the hero with your character. Use the scene as inspiration for description. Feel free to steal it wholesale 😉
Getting out of the chair and pantomiming is another good way too for getting involved in a scene. Swords and guns are pretty easy to pantomime, but you can always swish and flick a pencil like it was a magic wand. When pleading with the queen to spare your lives, get on your knees and beg. Take any action your character attempts and pretend likes a charades: climb a wall, sway your arms on a tightrope, weave a basket. It’s good for the circulation.
And if you’re sneaking around, be sure to hunch over, pull your hands up to your chest, and make some “dink dink dink” glockenspiel sneaking sounds like you’re Homer Simpson.