Tagging at the end of your post
There might be many different words for what I’m writing this article about, but I’ve always known it as “tagging”. The word presumably comes from the game you play as a kid called “tag” where one person has to chase everyone else, and “tags” them (or we also used to say “tig”). The other person would then be “it” and responsible for catching and tagging someone else. The person who was “it” was the sole person who could move the game on.
So it’s this thinking why we use the word “tag” on the end of our posts, to signify that it’s another person’s turn to continue the game.
Tag another member
When you’ve finished writing your post, you might want a specific member to continue the story. Either you’ve left it on a cliffhanger that only that character can continue, or you’ve discussed in person (or by email, msn etc) about where you’re both going to take the storyline. So if you have a certain person in mind to continue the story, make sure you tag them at the end of your post. For example tagging I’ve seen is usually written at the bottom of your post like this:
Or because the comment is Out Of Character then you might do this:
<OOC – Tag John!>
So you’ve clearly specified who it is that you intend to continue this story. Of course this isn’t mandatory, and anyone can really join in. This might be considered rude, as you might be treading on the toes of someone else’s planned story, but in a PBEM game the story might not go in the direction you wanted it to anyway, be prepared to be flexible!
You might not want to tag anyone in particular, but want to make it clear that you want someone (anyone) to continue your story from where you left it. In this case they might write:
<OOC – Tag>
This isn’t always necessary because in this kind of game, it should be possible for anyone to continue anyone else’s story. But sometimes people might be posting a series of posts about their character and aren’t yet ready to allow another member to continue. If members are doing this they’ll usually write:
<OOC – To be continued>
Which means you probably shouldn’t jump in and hijack their story. Just wait for them to post the second part, and then you can continue their story.
Tagging with a message
Really, this comes under the realm of creating OOC messages, but also applies here. If you want to tag another member to continue your story, it might be handy to give them an idea of what to do.
So for example:
<OOC – Tag John! Can you stop the volcano from destroying us all?>
Good tags come after good cliffhangers
The way you end your post is very important to what someone will post next. It might be a good idea to use a cliffhanger at the end, so that it gives the person who will follow you something to write about. There’s usually two ways that this cliffhanger could work:
Put your character in immediate danger. Your character will then need rescuing as soon as possible, and it’s up to any character to come to their rescue. Write a tag at the end of your post for anyone to continue, or if there’s a certain character that is nearby, tag them!
Here’s an example where Billy is your character, and you want someone to come save him:
<OOC – Tag! Billy is hanging onto the edge of a cliff. Someone please save him!>
Put someone else’s character in a situation they have to get out of. This could be immediate danger, or an embarrassing situation, or just some unfinished dialogue that you want them to finish off. For example:
<Tag John, can you kill the Ogre before he burns down the village?>
Sometimes you might leave a tag for someone else in a tricky situation which might make them unsure what they have to do. It should always be clear what you want them to do, or allow them to think of some clear options. You don’t always have to specify these options to them, you’re not their boss! Everyone should be able to express their own writing style and allow to be creative and come up with their own ideas.
A bad tag would be when you’ve left a cliffhanger which is confusing, and the other member isn’t quite certain what’s happening, and what they need to do to solve things.
Another bad tag would be ending your post in a way where only YOU can write the next bit. But you’ve finished the post and are ready to leave it for someone else. Don’t leave a tag when it’s YOUR character that needs to do something! Other members won’t want to continue your story, or they might not feel confident enough to use your character.
Example of a good tag
A good tag would be when there’s a cliffhanger and it’s clear to the next person what’s going on, and puts their character into a situation that they need to get out of. For example:
An extremely feminine scream came from the shower.
“SEYMOUR?!” Amber yelled, racing into the bathroom to leap to the aid of the Ambassador, who was obviously being eaten alive by the vicious, enormous, savage, monster….
<Tag Onion! :D>
This was posted by Rebecca Tordoff on the Blue Dwarf PBEM. You can see the original post here.
It’s clear that a cliffhanger has been created, and the only way that the next character can get out of this situation is to for the member: Onion (that’s me by the way!) to continue the story so that their character doesn’t get eaten by the monster.