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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11 thoughts on “Anniversary Special – What I Learned #4”
I’m always impressed that you manage to more or less keep to the 100 word limit. As you know, my episode reviews tend to get out of hand a lot. Those Diabolik Lovers ones are usually 1k despite being 15min episodes.
Series reviews are hard in a different way. I note down pros and cons while I watch but it’s hard to highlight the best features in a way that’s not generic while also (mostly) keeping away from spoilers. I try but success varies.
I think most of us are our own worst critics in terms of our reviews. Which is not necessarily a bad thing given we all keep trying to get better. Still, I love your reviews D and I look forward to reading many more in the future.
I either focus on the story or character developments but I know it’s a pain to write episode reviews lol XD . It’s really hard for me to either enjoy watching the anime or trying to focus and find something to write about in each episodes. Plus, I really need to start my review on Grimoire of Zero before its episodes start accumulating in my anime folder. ^*^;
I always try to write my posts spoilerfree, and that is at times also a challenge. What some people consider to be a spoiler, might be very different for everyone. But I agree with you, to just not write an overlong description for a review. I just try to include enough to get people interested for it, and know what is basically going on. But the 100 word limit for your blog is pretty tough, but at the same time very awesome. Great post again ! 😊
Spoiler free is really hard because there are so many different opinions on what a spoiler actually is. Pretty much if I’m covering evetns from the end of a series I’ll note that there are spoilers, otherwise, I’ll just trust that people realise that if I’m discussing a show, I’m going to mention events from the show.
“Really, you could write thousands of words about a series, but what does someone thinking about watching the show really need to know?”
You wouldn’t be able to tell by the end product, but I trim down a lot in my reviews. I slash paragraphs left and right and condense discussion points wherever I can. I just have this need to try to comprehensively explain things when I talk about them. Kimmie’s editing helps a lot though, as she’ll ask me every once in a while “where are you going with this?” as she reads one over or simply cuts sentences out.
Starting with a 100 world target was a great idea to get yourself started, and it’s a great post size for getting readers to drop by frequently. I’m afraid I made things hard for myself (in writing and readability) from the very beginning 😛
Longer posts do have their place though and some of my favourite posts are the ones that go into more depth and detail. It’s nice you have someone to help you out with editing. Sometimes that extra set of eyes can notice the obvious thing missing or the clutter that you are just over looking.
Wow, now I feel like such an idiot for not noticing the 100-word Anime blog title. You’ll have to forgive me–I’m a bit slow, haha! But this wasn’t very interesting to read. I love finding out more about our blogger friends, why they write but especially how they do it, so thanks for telling us about your beginnings!
I don’t blame you for not noticing the 100 word title given how rarely I manage to keep my episode reviews at that length. Still, once I hit 200 words I start slashing content and try to leave only what is needed.