Having reached the one year point, I’ve decided to spend this week reflecting on what I’ve learned from blogging over the past 12 months, firmly keeping in mind I still have a lot to learn.
There are lots of details in blogging. Whether it is knowing what your focus is, getting the schedule write, sorting your grammar and spelling (I should work a bit harder on this one occasionally, typos creep in especially when I’m tired), responding to other blog posts, etc, etc. Fortunately I like details and tracking things so I get on fairly well with this aspect of it.
But that’s not what I wanted this post to be about. Really, this post is about knowing what details to include in a post and what to leave out. For me, this has become a major challenge over the year mostly because I gave myself the 100 word target* for episode reviews. It means I am supposed to try to get to the point quickly and not just run over an episode synopsis (freely admit I don’t always succeed at that).
So when writing about a single episode, I usually try to focus on one point from the episode. What really stood out as good, bad, weird, potentially important, completely useless, etc? There are plenty of episode summaries around so I really don’t want to just recap the events, and I don’t have the words for it anyway, so my goal is to express how I felt about the episode as a whole and use 1 or 2 incidents to illustrate that point. Again, I don’t always succeed.
However, when I expand this same view onto my full reviews, I find it really helps to take a lot of clutter out of series reviews. Really, you could write thousands of words about a series, but what does someone thinking about watching the show really need to know? What are the points that really stuck with me and how did they make me feel? I openly admit I rarely do any detailed discussion of the animation or artwork (occasionally make passing comments about whether I liked it or not) because I don’t have the skill set to really go into any more depth. The main focus for me are the characters and the plot and whether these are entertaining or not. Certainly other aspects like the animation or the music will get a mention, but they aren’t my primary focus so I don’t spend a lot of time on them.
Even with characters, I try not to list every single character in the show but rather try to narrow my focus to the couple that are needed to illustrate whatever point I’m trying to make about the characters. I regularly end up deleting entire paragraphs about some side character because when drafting I got onto a bit of a rant and then I realised it had no impact on my overall enjoyment of the series and wasn’t worth wasting my reader’s time on.
I’m still working on this, particularly in my episode reviews, but I like to think I’m mostly getting better. I actually struggle with shows that are watchable but unremarkable because I can’t usually find something to focus my post on (The Laughing Salesman is this season’s challenge as there’s a lot of same-same each episode making it hard to write).
Anyway, I’d love to know how you decide which details to keep in posts and which to delete?
*If you are wondering why the 100 word target, it was something to get me writing. I’d gotten to the point where I avoided writing with excuses like I don’t have the time (not reviews, just writing in general). However, by asking myself to write just 100 words and reminding myself how easy it was to get to 100 words I found motivation to start writing again. Now I just need to figure out how to hit the brakes and not smash the 100 word limit on every single episode review.
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