Irina: It’s me guys! Man I have GOT to figure out how to start posts. It’s getting sad…
What was I saying? Nothing, I just started…oh well this is going great…
A little while ago, I posted a series of tips about how to write about/review a series or episode, when you don’t really have much to say about it. This seemed like a pretty natural fit for me as I have a gift for much adoing about nothing. Case and point, everything about this post so far. But you know what I find truly challenging? Putting a post together when I have TOO MUCH to say.
Series that are near and dear to me or long running shows that tackle tons of interesting themes I want to discuss are difficult for me to tackle. I often lose my way, try to say too much and end up saying nothing at all or skipping important reflections which make my entire thesis seem incomplete. Reigning in posts that just don’t seem to want to come together is considerably more difficult for me than prattling without any real point.
I find this to be particularly true when I try to review Visual Novels. Something about the non-linear structure of the narrative or the extra consideration that has to be given to gameplay elements, make these reviews much more difficult for me. It may not be completely obvious from the end product but they take me considerably longer to write and I’m rarely happy with the results. As such, when struggling with a write up for Kindred Spirits on The Roof, I turned to my blogging guru (and more importantly friend) Remy, for help and inspiration. As usual, this was brilliant. Go me!
I: You’re debating my brilliance now Rem? Ow….
R: Noooo, I’m saying turning to me was a questionable move! I’m so inconsistent since I’m the type that sits around waiting for inspiration to strike. So according to Bakuman, I’m a rookie!
With that being said, your brilliance was never something to be doubted, Iri.
I: Honestly, this was such a huge help and I plan to revisit the conversation whenever I need to find a way to regain focus on a post that’s gotten out of hand. I hope it can help some of you as well:
R: Doing this was helpful for me, too. Hopefully our lil’ collab gives you all something to think about, too! Let us know in the comments section and make our day! Yeah, the day belongs to Iri and me. It also belongs to you and them and I’m going off the rails here, sorry…
So let me open up with a strategy I haven’t really personally used. But my dear friend, D, would sometimes publish two posts in regards to a series they had just finished watching back when they were active. The first article would be a series review that encompasses the show as a whole whereas the second article would be a more focused post that really hones in on a specific character or theme.
I’ve also noticed that you do something similar at times, Iri. Your series review of Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku was followed by a post that was primarily about poor, misunderstood Ruler. The tactic to cure being-paralyzed-due-to-having-too-much-to-say-syndrome was with you this entire time….
At any rate, I think this is a strategy which can be utilized if you really want to talk at length about a particular subject or character. You can even write more posts to cover additional topics, if you’d like. The only problem is that, well, you’d be publishing more posts (which means more work for you) and the number of hits each post get might be compromised (possibly) since there is still a slight overlap.
I: That is indeed a great way to go if you want to avoid writing an encyclopedia about a show or topic. I occasionally do character studies or general essay topics (faux science posts) inspired by series when I want to concentrate on something specific but for myself, I can only do this when I’ve managed to organize my thoughts enough to parcel off certain aspects I want to discuss.
That usually means my general review is pretty much realized in my mind and I can take a neat chunk out of it to discuss somewhere else. It’s a lot harder when my thoughts are a jumbled intertwined mess. Sometimes you need to at least briefly touch on something in order to explain a different aspect and that leads you to another point and…before you know it, you’ve forgotten where you were going.
Mind you – I never go in with the idea of splitting my post into many. My extra posts are always afterthoughts once I’ve already put my review together. I really should try structuring it as a multiple feature right off the bat. This may in fact come in very useful when I attempt to tackle FMA:Brotherhood, seeing as I’ve got about 10 pages of notes on it… Most are NSFW sketches of Olivier…Those should get 2 posts!
R: Good point. Wanting to properly explain various topics to readers can really make a mess out of posts and such. It’s like you have to think about what you want to write before you even start to write, right? Definitely easier said than done sometimes since it’s almost like micromanagement.
Ah, thinking about the structure beforehand would very likely change the execution of the post. Hadn’t really thought about that. On that note, I think you should go ahead and try that out for FMA:Brotherhood!
Word of your loving praise for Olivier within your posts shall be passed down among the aniblogging community for generations!
I: Personally, I was super impressed with the Question trick you gave me. You should explain it, you do it much better than me.
R: Well, it’s not that much of a trick. Unless if you mean that I’m Fooling people into thinking I have something worthwhile to say because that is possibly true.
But I think of it like this: people are eternally thirsty for knowledge, especially when it comes to media and entertainment. They want to know if they should bother with playing a particular visual novel. They want to know if there’s any hidden meanings behind certain scenes in a manga series. They want to know if an anime series is “good.”
So just frame most or at least part of a post/article/editorial as being an answer to those sort of questions. That way you’re giving them that sweet nectar they desire and you have a very vague idea of how to proceed and what to talk about in your content. Everyone wins!
R: Another thing that sort of grabbed me was this tweet I came across the the other day which said that point of a first draft is to get your thoughts written down. It kind of makes sense. Your thoughts aren’t going to be perfect right off the bat. So play around with ideas to your heart’s content since no one is ever gonna see your rough drafts unless if you want them to.
Become the idea playboy / playgirl!
I: That’s certainly great advice, especially if you have time for going over multiple versions of your posts….
As a sort of jumping off point there, I find it infinitely helpful to have an “editor” so to speak. Mind you that’s an actually task. I’m not just talking about someone who will reread your text and pick out a few typos and say it’s good. I’m talking about someone who engages with the material, asks probing questions which make you realize some points weren’t clear enough or offers suggestions on how to restructure or reframe a post so it reads more smoothly. That’s a real art and not all people are suited for it. You also have to find someone with a similar voice than yours if you don’t want your personal style to get diluted. But if you guys out there find someone who’s the right fit, don’t let them go. That’s a rare and precious asset!
I’ve also always tried to present my posts as conversations rather than lectures. This is a very personal choice mind you, I know a lot of the big bloggers tend to use a much more professional and authoritative tone when writing. From what I can tell, if you’re going to go the professional way then you can structure your post a bit like you’re teaching a class. With a table of content and headers, picking one point and explaining it thoroughly before going to the next.
I sort of wander back and forth, keeping a loose idea of things I want to touch on but I haven’t hit on a specific formulae yet. I think one of my biggest problems is that I’m not sure whether I’m writing for people who haven’t seen the series or played the game (so no spoilers, no deep dives into the actual narrative, more emphasis on production) or people that have and are seeking that feeling of having a conversation. From what you said above, it seems you stick to the premise that your readers are learning about the subject of your post for the first time?
R: Having someone who looks beyond typos and actually gets to discussing what you’re trying to say really is valuable. But ouch, this feels like a personal attack on me since I sort of struggle to do exactly this whenever I say I’ll take a look at someone’s content…
Ah, headers give you the impression of lectures and authoritative tones? Now that you’ve mentioned it, I guess it does sort of make your posts look like a syllabus or a print-out…
Meanwhile I’ve been trying to make use of headers to assist in ease of writing and reading. That way I sort of force myself to stick to the topic by adhering to the big bolded words. It also helps the reader by giving them a vague idea of what I’m trying to talk about. Or the header could potentially be a bit vague or silly and that’ll force them to read more. Orrrrr it allows the reader to just skim through posts and get to the parts they actually care about, haha…
I: I’m just jumping in here. Headers definitely make reading easier but they also do give a more rigorously outlined and organized feel to the post. Which is a great thing mind you…if you happen to be organized and outlined…
If you thought that first part was good wait til you read the rest of this conversation over on Remy’s blog right over HERE!!!