Posting Past Events
Out Of Character Vs. In Character
Whether you need to write up an audition post or have already snagged a character, you are ready to submit a post. A post in its simplest form, is basically an Email where you write par of the story from the perspective of your character.
In general, the most common tense to used in all games when you are writing, is past tense. (I walked, she ran, etc.) However, there are two kinds of posting formats out there and most like to stay consistent and no matter which you personally prefer, you will probably need to write in whichever form the game is in.
Third Person Posting: This form uses: he, she, they, etc. You write what is happening to that character and what they experience as if you are telling part of the story. For these the subject is not always as important. It is helpful to make sure that you include your characters name in the subject or your character and those that you are interacting with. It isn't as necessary to add the characters name at the top of the actual email but it is nice. Also, it is good to only include necessary parts from previous posts because after many replies it can get very messy with all the arrows. Sample:
Katie walked quickly down the dark street. The stars sparkled in the night sky as the moon once again peeked out from behind the dark clouds of the impending storm.
First Person Posting: This form uses: I, we, etc. This is a little bit more personal because you write as if you are that character. This format makes it much easier to express the characters thoughts and emotions. It is common to put the characters name and then a title for the post in these types of games in the subject and then again write the characters name at the top of the email.
I sat at my keyboard frustrated. I had a paper due in less than four hours and I still hadn't even picked a topic.
"Why do you keep DOING this to yourself?" I cried frustrated. I always assumed I had more time than I really did. Sighing I looked back at the blank word document on the screen, placed my fingers on the keyboard, and let them type what they would.
More often than not most games are going to be very strict about ONLY writing dialogue for YOUR characters. Writing dialogue for other characters is a no no and will probably get you into trouble. Many people, and you might be one of them, prefer to have complete control of their character. In these games, the posts tend to be shorter since you can only speak for your own characters. Games such as these often produce many more posts than First person games for the simple fact that the posts are shorter and sometimes people will just post back and forth to form a simple conversation.
There are games that do allow dialogue to be spoken for other characters, and in fact encourage it. It helps the game run smoother sometimes and give' the other writer's more ideas to work off of.
Posting is not very difficult but there are a few problems that pop up consistently both with newer members as well as with older members. These are things that make posts difficult and inconvenient to read and can result in being asked to rewrite the post.
Formatting: When writing a post, sometimes people will write their entire post no matter how long in one long block of text. It is much easier on the eyes to separate a post into a bunch of different paragraphs. Making sure to indent the text or hit enter twice to put a line of space between the paragraphs.
Length: Posts should try to be more than just a few sentences if at all possible. One line of text or dialogue is very difficult for someone to respond to.
Punctuation: This may seem silly, but a lot of people don't bother to check their posts and make sure that all of their apostrophes and periods and other punctuation marks are used correctly. Sometimes people just write text with no quotation marks and just mixes the exposition text and dialogue together and that makes it very difficult to know what they are saying and what they are thinking. You must put quotation marks around the things that the person is speaking.
Spelling and Grammar: Checking the spelling seems to be an obvious thing that one would want to check before sending out a post, but a surprising number of people don't bother. They'll butcher the spelling or use the wrong form of a word. Just copy and paste it into Microsoft Word or some other word processor and run a spell check. Copy it back and then send it.
Character Integrity & Consistency: When playing a character, whether Made-Up (See Made-Ups Chapter for more information), or from the game's topic, it is important to stay true to the personality that they displayed in the show or movie, or stays consistent to the personality given them as a Made-Up. Of course characters are allowed to change and develop as they continue to live in the fantasy world but wishy-washy characters are very annoying. It is very important to make sure that you know where your characters as well as other characters are.
Realism: While yes, all of these games take place in some sort of fantasy world it is important to keep the characters believable and realistic. They should have motivations for doing what they do. If you choose a minor character that lives in another country you should think up a plausible reason for suddenly deciding to visit the rest of the cast in another country especially if they haven't seen each other in a while. Also, it's not the end of the world if something bad happens to your character. Most of the time it helps to advance the plot. Many games don't even allow the killing of other characters so having them in the hospital for a few days isn't a bad thing.
Sympathy: Sometimes bad stuff happens to characters like they are in a car crash or they get sick. There is only so many times people will post "oh you poor thing are you ok?" or read "oh my head hurts." before everyone starts getting annoyed both reading and writing messages like that. Please make their recovery timely and realistic.
Mind Reading: It is important to pay attention as to what is a THOUGHT and what is actually portrayed through emotions or speech. Just because you as the writer knows something, it does NOT mean that your CHARACTER knows it. In other words, if you are reading a post where someone is plotting to steal something from your character, or try to trick them, your character shouldn't suddenly decide to install a security system, carry around pepper spray, or suddenly become more aware of their surroundings. It is important to keep that seperation in mind because having a bunch of psychic characters just gets boring because then you can always keep your character safe.
NOTE: THINK before you post.
Tagging makes the game interactive. After you have written your post, if you are talking directly to someone or wish for a certain character to respond to what you have said or done, you should write "Tag Character" replacing 'Character' with the name of the character that you want to respond to your post. It is not necessary to have a tag at the end and if you are simply posting some events or thoughts for your character it may not be needed. If you are just trying to get involved in a game "Tag Anyone" works fine to try and get some interaction.
NOTE: If you tag someone, they don't respond right away, and you feel that your character is stuck; you don't have to wait for them. If they take too long to respond that could mean any number of things. Try to email the player personally and see if they plan on responding soon because if they don't you might want to move on without them or write around them.
Posting Past Events
Sometimes it becomes necessary to have flashbacks or talk about something that happened before a game starts. It is very important to take into consideration that character's personality and motives. Suddenly finding out that Headmaster Dumbledore was in the mafia is probably not a very meaningful representation of his past and players and owners will probably have problems with that. Things like that should be discussed with the moderator first to make sure that they will allow it.
If your flashback includes another character, it is important to check with that person to make sure that it is ok with them that the event in question took place because that is their character to make that decision for.
Also, if you are playing a Made-Up character and you wish to suddenly include an old flame, especially if this is a character that someone else made up, you should check with that person or with the moderator to make sure that it's ok to make that connection. (Connections like this should be included in the original bio that is submitted.)
Out Of Character Vs. In Character
If you have a question about the game or a comment that you would like to make on the list, you should put the letters OOC (out of character) and then write what you have to say. It's just a formality so that others reading will know right away that it isn't part of your characters post. Then when you are finished if you wish to put your characters post after the OOC comment it is common to write IC (in character) and then hit enter and then write the rest of the post.