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There are a few things that should be said about the content of a post. One of the first guidelines that one should keep in mind is that each post should be roughly 200-300 words at a minimum. If you do more that is great, but in general there is not going to be anything of any worth being posted when someone submits something that rests at roughly 100 words. When you factor in prose, movement, feelings, thoughts, and even dialogue, you should easily have 200-300 words at your disposal for a post. Simply doing a single line of text regarding a specific conversation just doesn't cut it. As such, below you will see various examples of posting strategies that can be used to make sure that not only are you going past the 200-300 word minimum, but you far exceed it and go into a truly awesome story telling experience.

Before we hit those general areas though, we should cover some more information regarding the content of posts. The next thing we should be looking at for posts is that each post should be aimed at trying to further the plot. I have a general story arc in mind, and various NPCs will be maneuvering the plot around around the rest of the cast. It is always a good idea to take a look at the episode writeup, and even the episode notes on the forum to see the general direction the episode is being aimed towards. So it would be a good idea to try to aim posts in the general direction of where the episode is going towards. This is not to say that posts about drama and general character development should not be done. Just means that the story is going in a direction, and it is a good thing to be involved in the plot than watching it fly past you and then waking up and wondering what the hell just happened.

Beyond that, below are some further guidelines regarding posts and posting.

  • Postings should be done every few days with an aim of 2 per week. Real life kicks in which is understandable, and if only 1 post shows up then at least the story is moving forward.
  • Postings should be done in a 3rd person format
  • Postings should be spell checked before being submitted
  • Postings should be checked for grammar
  • If the sex thing is a needed part of the story, please keep it to a 'fade to black' situation. Even though this may be a rated R sim, I can't stop a younger person from reading the story, and we also don't need to watch people explore their sexuality in a work of Firefly universe fiction
  • Keep foul language to what might be needed for a situation. Using expletatives for the sake of being allowed to use them is dumb, but walking into a trap when you were certain there was one but were stupid enough to go anyway deserves an 'Ahh shit'. As above, this is rated R, but I can't and shouldn't be trying to stop younger people from reading the finished stories. So either be careful or just don't use it .

So now that we have covered the basics, let's move onto various posting strategies that can help get things moving towards the aim of telling a story.

When a post is being created one of the first tasks is to create a title for the post. The title should have something to do with what is going on that the time. Doing something like 'Biff's Falafel Fun' is obviously wrong if Biff is suddenly arrested and in prison. So if there is a sudden shift in the scene then obviously we should be seeing something different in the title of the post. Typically a title for a post might look like something like this.

[Ranch Hands And Guns] - Biff, Dale, Garret

Simple arrangement here. This will tell people that this is the scene being done up, and will speak of the people currently within the scene in general. As more people enter the scene obviously we should keep in mind that names should be added. This will do two things. One is that it will make it easier for everyone to keep track of what posts are being worked on, and by whom. Also it will allow people in multiple posts at the same time to keep track of what scene they are dealing with where. Second, it will allow me to keep track of everything that is going on with each scene so I can compile the story properly.

There is no real title for this method of putting a post together, but it is one that I have used for most of my PBEM life, and it is the main posting method that is used within the story here. This is a subset of the whole Joint Posting method, but what this involves is putting mulitple tags into a JP that is being bounced back and forth. This is not an easy method of posting, and in fact this is a rather advanced form of joint posting that a lot of people are either not used to, or are rather hostile to. Detractors of this method often site that they don't like the fact that they don't have control over their characters and so don't like it. The reality is that there is control, just not in the way most people have gotten used to. Below are three examples one after another for you to look through to see a very very basic method of how this style of joint posting works. Each example below builds on the next one down the line.

Even though the examples are a bit..., basic, it does give you a basic primer into what is going on with a multi-tag point post. In the example the two people are putting together a story. One starts and leaves various ideas and examples, the other takes it and then alters some of the surrounding post to make what they want to do fit, and visa versa. As I said the main cons to this method is that it is a fairly unknown form of posting, and the illusion is that you don't have a ton of control. The main pros involved is that this method of posting actually does produce a much more story intensive product than any other posting method I have ever run into in my many years doing PBEMs. Which is why I have used it for most of the time that I have done PBEMs. The illusion of non-control is just that, an illusion. Both people are not in ego mode thinking of what they want to write, they are thinking of what would look good for a story. Making concessions back and forth for the sake of the over all story arc, subtly altering surrounding text to fit your ideas, and helping eachother reach the end result of where you want the post to go, all help to make a very well put together finished product. When I have had three or four people doing one of these, within 3 posts from each of us we had finally ended up with roughly 5 pages of text that read like a novel instead of just a collection of dialogue parapgraphs. This method is also very good at doing something involving a whole mass of people. Again, this method is not for everyone, and it is not an easy method to accomplish correctly, but it is a method that can be used to produce a product from a JP perspective.

Aside from the above that can be used to do a solo post, this is the most common method of telling a grand story. In this method you could bounce emails back and forth between two people and then form a giant story that way. Once people are happy with that, they post the whole product. Simple right? Even the above method I have listed would pretty much use the same method for getting the post put together. Why do it like these instead of just posting specific pieces of dialogue to the list? Looks neater. If I have every paragraph of a conversation in a seperate post, and then you came online to read it, it would look annoying, sloppy, and impossibly large to sift through. By getting a joint post together before throwing it up, means you have a 'story' to submit, instead of a line of dialogue. Plus both people involved in the post get credit for the post itself. So if you are writing a JP (Joint Post), and then submit a multi-tag post shortly before the JP hits the forum, then that is two posts in the week. Simple and effective. Methods of doing a JP could include Email, and even instant messaging systems like AIM, or MSN. What ever you are using, it is a fairly effective way to produce a cohesive joint story.

Okay. This is where some of the prospective people that might want to be part of this story of ours is probably going to shriek and go running for the hills. Why, you might ask? Because combat is a part of our show where you will not have as much control as you might like over your character. At some point in time, combat is going to become a reality within the storyline. That reality should be something that causes people to pause, and it should elicit a 'crap' from the parties involved. It should always be that people should be trying to keep the situation from getting to the point where combat becomes the last alternative. But when push comes to shove, sometimes it is where the storyline has to go. When that happens, that is where the moderated portion of the simm comes into play, and certain actions and such will be determined from behind the scenes based on tactical desicions on your part.

Why would I do this? It surely is not to piss everyone off. The reality is that my time in the field with an armed force has taught me a few things about the realities of combat. Firstly, you can practice all you want but at the end of the day 99.9% of the time things creep up which tend to throw a monkey wrench into the plan. Secondly, bad stuff sometimes happens for absolutely no reason like a random bullet out of nowhere blowing a hole through someone. Thirdly, in the battlefield, none of the parties get to discuss before hand how we want the thing to go down. It just goes down whether we want it to or not.

General survivability can be increased through training, tactics, skill sets, situational and environmental considerations. But at the end of the day, once all of those factors are put into play, all you can do is then put the plan into action and rely on your training to see you through. The same thing goes on for your character. If you are a doctor suddenly three Bounty Hunters run at you with rifles out and ready, running at them and starting martial arts moves is probably not going to be the order of the day. Your skill set is not very conducive to full out combat of this type, you probably don't train as much as a soldier might for stuff like this most likely, and so the only thing you have going for you are tactics and the fact that you might know the terrain better than they do. Not a lot to go on. A normal soldier might be hard pressed to go toe to toe with 3 of the suckers, but he would obviously have a better chance of survival than a doctor would.

When combat is called for, it would tend to go into a modified version of the multi-tag posting style where I would be inserting various options or interjecting results of certain actions. When stuff like this is going on, I need to know certain things like tactics involved, anything special being done, weaponry, that extra dimensional pet in your pocket that you are going to throw at the bad guy. This will help me try to orchestrate the whole combat. When certain situations change, new tactics might have to be adopted to make sure that the combat can continue. All in all as real combat is rather dangerous, so should this be a hazardous foray for your character. Once it is all done it is posted just like any other post.