“How to avoid backsims and how to regain missed opportunities”
By: Captain Rocar, Commanding Officer, Duronis III Embassy
Ever missed someone’s post and had to backsim after the plot had moved on? Alternatively, perhaps you have posted a sim that moves things on and then a fellow player posted a sim requiring responses from your character in the past even though you had moved your character on from that place or timeframe? This is a situation we all face from time to time and generally our solution is to post a backsim, filling out the necessary gaps and asking the reader to insert it back before the current time frame. Such backsims can be over a page long, however more often than not they will be a post of just a few lines which appear at the start of our next sim with a massive leap in time to the rest of our post and little concept. Despite this common practice, there are ways to effectively avoid backsim posting.
One of the easiest and most effective methods is the ((Flashback)) which if you milk it can really help you do some character building; as it shows your character thinking about an event in the recent past or that something important was still playing on their mind some time latter. Essentially this allows you to insert the lines that have been missed within the context of your sim.
Eg. Say a staff meeting ends and I have simmed my character back to his office, but then Commander Shartara posts a set of lines for me to reply to in the meeting. Rather than back sim, I could simply include the following lines in my next sim. . .
((Rocar’s Officer -Duronis II))
:: Having left the conference room some moments earlier, the Ambassador sat down at his desk and picked up a PADD. As his green Ktarian eyes gazed over the information he couldn’t help but think back to something that Shartara had said to him during the meeting, Rocar’s mind going over their exchange just moments earlier::
((Flashback – Conference Room))
Shartara: Sir. . . I quite like Kate Rusby’s voice::
::Rocar chuckled a little as he’d remembered Rusby singing at his birthday. Despite his reservation he had replied. . . ::
Rocar: Okay. . . .see if she’s free to perform at the Embassy reception on Tuesday.
((End of Flashback))
::Rocar sat in his office and shook his head in amusement at the brief exchange before the meeting had carried on and come to a close. Smiling to himself he turned his attention back to the PADD and the matter at hand.
For added effect I would advise you to write the Flashback in the pluperfect tenses (i.e. “He HAD said” instead of “he said” or “He would have said” rather than “he would say” ) as this helps convey the fact that it is an event in the past that your character is remembering.
Of course simply remembering something without reason rarely happens in RL unless we are reminded of the event, and this lends itself to the sim as it offers the writer to use a little style in artistic technique. Rather than just sticking a flashback into the middle of the sim, try and lead into it by including a trigger. For example, if you are going to flashback to an event by a lake, then describe the ripples on your characters cup of coffee catching your characters attention; if you are going to back flash to a conversation with a beautiful blonde then spot a blonde haired officer ahead in the corridor; or if you’re going to remember a fight with an Orion, then sim an NPC mentioning Orions to your character in everyday conversation, or pick out a key word in some dialogue that someone else simmed for you.
A flashback memory triggered something around your character is quite a stylistic way to write and helps bring a back sim into context whilst replying to the gaps you missed; you can even portray your character as giving the matter thought after the incident and thus do some good character building.
This technique can also be adapted slightly to allow for showing different side to your characters. How often in RL do you have a verbal confrontation with someone and then several hours later think of something witty you should have said? Likewise, when simming, it will occasionally happen that you write a reply to someone’s previous sim and then latter you realize that you did not maximize on the gaps in the dialogue and missed out on a chance to do some real good character development?
If this happens, then there is no need to pull your previous sim, despite your mistake. Instead, why not use thought marks and the flashback techniques to play over what happened and have your character imagine the same event with different dialogue. Perhaps start off with your character meditating or in bed ready for sleep, then have them think about what they said and imaging the alternative line that they did not say or could have said. This way you still manage to use the dialogue the way you realized you could have done, without having to pull your previous sim.
Try these two sims out, and you not only avoid the dissatisfaction of posting a few lines of disconnected back sims or having to pull sims you not happy with, you also end up writing a new sim off the back of your previous oversights. These new Sims will allow you depth and development to your character whilst using some nice writing techniques that provide you with a high quality sim and something a little bit different to usual.