OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


Why flashbacks are important

Flashback week is a week-long writing event where writers and roleplayers are encouraged to think about something that happened in their characters past, and write it as a flashback. Flashback week is the 2nd week in August, starting Sunday the 14th. I’ve been spreading the word, to encourage writers and roleplayers to all write flashbacks together in that week. Here’s an article written by Mike, GM of Wizards Inc on why he thinks flashbacks are important.

MikeI was asked if I could write something about flashbacks in text based role playing games and if I thought they were important (I don’t know if I can but I’ll certainly try!).

Being a lazy writer, flashbacks are a very handy tool for me. When I start writing about a new character or if I start a new game where characters are obviously going to have a past, I can just go in guns blazing with a new story without having to worry if people get it or not. I can always do a quick flashback, either mid-story or as a completely new post, to bring anyone reading it up to date with what is going on and more importantly, why.

Take for example my current game (although not recently updated, which is my own fault for letting it slip) on Ongoing Worlds; Wizards Inc. (I have to try and write this without giving away my idea for an upcoming storyline in an attempt to re-start the game). The two characters I currently write for were recently battling it out over a game of chess, with one characer, Norman Wizard, Managing Director of Wizards Inc., being held captive by his semi-dead Undead Relations manager, Shamus McGavin. Being a very lazy writer, I gave no clue as to why Shamus had taken his boss captive or what he planned to do with the company now that he was gone. But I knew that I could use flashbacks to give more substance to the story as it went on. Again, being a lazy writer, this meant I could just plough on with the story as I intended it, adding to it when I came to a point I felt I needed to elaborate, without deviating from the main story.

Another good thing to remember is that everyone has a past. Unless you write for your characters from the day they are born, you are at some point going to need to explain why they are the person they are, why they do the things they do and what helped to form the characteristics they show. Writing flashbacks gives you the chance to do all this and more. It can be very entertaining for someone to read about things that have happened to a character they have come to know and like. If done properly, it helps your co-writers to understand that character and so makes it easier for them to include them in their own posts. It isn’t easy to write about a character you don’t understand, so you’re more likely to shy away from including them in your posts, for fear of writing them out of character.

The biggest thing to remember about writing flashbacks is to enjoy yourself. I can often tell when something I read has been written by someone trying to force the words out. If it doesn’t come easily then does it really need saying? If you haven’t written a flashback for your character yet, give it a try.

You might just learn something new about them!

-Mike, GM of Wizards Inc

If you’re interested in Flashback week and want to see who else is taking part, visit the Facebook event here.