Training Tutorial 4

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Training Tutorials

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Tutorial 4: Advancing the story through our character’s eyes

By now, you’re getting a feel for how we play our game: Each writer moves the story forward with their sim, ensuring that their character has a strong, identifiable voice in their post. We achieve this in two ways; keeping our sims fresh and relevant, leaving open tags for other players, and rewriting the descriptions of other players so our sim comes entirely from our character’s perspective.


At this point, the class is several posts in and you may be wondering where to begin your second sim. A great rule of thumb is to start your new sim at the same point you left your previous one. That way your character can respond to everything new that’s happened, without asking your fellow simmers to retread old ground.

A good way to achieve this is to start with a paragraph which briefly sets the scene, follow with your last dialogue section, and go from there.


You’ve seen by now that we advance our story by leaving open dialogue blocks like this:

 ((Example: Cliff Edge))
 Rollins: ::He pointed to the base of the cliff.:: Looks like they built a second installation down there. We’ll have to check it out.
 Doe/Bloggs: Response
 Rollins: Good thing we brought climbing gear!
 He threw the two cadets a cheeky wave and stepped toward the cliff edge, ready to start rappelling.
 Doe/Bloggs: Response

We call these open dialogue sections—e.g. Doe/Bloggs: Response—a “tag”, and we expect each player to leave around 3 tags per sim. This strikes a nice balance between sharing the story momentum evenly, and making sure no one person dominates the plot.

What sort of dialogue can you use when you’re leaving tags for other players? Consider throwing questions to the other members of your team, playing on their strengths and roles (ask the security officer if there are known threats in the area, ask the engineer what is that strange sound you can hear in the conduits, etc.). Your character could make an observation based on their role, adding new information to the story. Or you can introduce new action, building on the events already established in the scene (someone saw Klingon footprints earlier? Maybe they make their appearance now!).

Whatever you do, ensure your tags are open-ended to avoid trapping other players into a specific response. For example, don’t ask a question, leave a tag for other players, and then answer your own question! If you can only think of one way to answer a tag you’ve left, it’s probably too constrictive, so try rewriting it to open up the options for others.


Sims from other writers will include descriptions of events that they can see and their character’s reaction to those events. Your sims should do the same, with all the action and events described as your character sees them.

When you come to write a sim for your *own* character, you will need to mention the actions that everyone can see, but you need to remove all internal thoughts and observations from other characters. It doesn’t make sense, for example, for you to have a passage in your sim that describes how another cadet is feeling and why, because there’s no reason for you to pick up on that (unless you’re an empath of course, in which case you might find yourself with some idea!)!

Let’s take a look at an example. Cadet Doe reads the following sim from Cadet Bloggs:

 ((Example: Cliff Edge))
 Bloggs felt his heart rise into his mouth as he stared over the edge of the cliff. He had always been afraid of heights. He watched the first officer, Commander Rollins, throw a cheeky wave at both him and Cadet Doe. He was sure that command officers were supposed to be a little more responsible.
 Bloggs: We have to go all the way down there? oO I’ll never make it! Oo
 Doe: Response
 Bloggs gestured for Doe to go first.
 Bloggs: After you? Maybe you can show me how it’s done?
 Doe: Response

When Cadet Doe comes to write his reply, he should look at the sim and consider which parts are only happening in Bloggs’ inner world. It would be strange for Doe to include Bloggs’ thoughts about not making it, or his opinions about the behavior of Commander Rollins—he has no way of knowing any of that is happening. So, anything that isn’t immediately relevant to Doe needs to go, but things that he can see and hear get to stay:

 ((Example: Cliff Edge))
 Doe stood at the cliff edge filled with eager anticipation. If someone had told him that the exam he would be taking at the end of years of hard work at the Academy would include rappelling down a rock face then he would have asked whether or not it was by virtue of his good grades that he had earned that privilege! The first officer, Commander Rollins, threw a cheeky wave at both him and Cadet Doe as he started his descent.
 Bloggs: We have to go all the way down there?
 Doe: All the way? Buddy, you could jump to the bottom and barely even feel the impact when you landed. oO Don’t tell me this guy is going to wuss out on us! Oo
 Bloggs gestured for Doe to go first.
 Bloggs: After you? Maybe you can show me how it’s done?
 Doe offered his colleague a confident grin.
 Doe: No “maybe” about it! Watch and learn, Bloggs!

When you’re thinking about what narration to add, you have lots of things to consider. Our best advice: Put yourself in your character’s shoes and think about all five senses, as well as internal thoughts. Throw the doors open and let everyone see what’s going on inside your character. This is your chance to tell their story and make a mark on the sim!


Starfleet Academy