Even though I could come up with a fair amount of theoretical evidence that I am not especially stupid, my actions don’t always follow suite. Case and point: my Fridays!

shiki just as planned

I started doing episode reviews for a collab. I found that although I did enjoy certain aspects they can be a bit taxing to put together, especially if there’s a short time between air date and my scheduled publish date. (What do you mean I could just change the schedule? I don’t follow…) So every season I pick one or two shows to review weekly, every time telling myself I’ll ease up next season. And then I don’t ease up the next season.

This time, my episode reviews went completely out of control. I’m doing 7!!! A whopping new high for me. And only 1.5 get published on my site so it’s in addition to my usual posts and not instead. Granted 4 are collaborations which are a lot easier and a lot more fun but you also have to factor in more time to give the other person a chance to write and adjust their part. 2 of those posts publish the day after airing the rest are all within 2 days. And 4 of those shows air on Fridays.

This means that after a long work week I get to watch 2 hours of anime YAY! Parse through 100s of screenshots, yay! And write 4 posts in one evening, yay…. the do gallery posts for each, yeah…. It’s a dumb schedule guys… And for the record, it does take me over an hour to write a single post.

Thankfully, once my foolishness has gotten me into one of those less than brilliant situations, I do manage to think just long enough to minimize the damage. In this case this was achieved through putting together a review template.

see, I am smurt!

All my episode reviews that are not collaborations have the same format and outline. I tell people what my expectations for the episode were to give them an idea of my mindset as I go in, I go into a summary of the events, tell them how the characters evolve and share what I think we’re the highlights and lows of the episode. I think this structure is a good way to go into everything I have to say and give people a good idea of what the episode was like if they haven’t seen it. There’s really nothing mind shattering about it.

However, the effect it has had on my post writing has been much greater than I expected. I find that I rarely kick myself for forgetting to mention something important anymore and more importantly, I would say it has cut my drafting time in half without reducing the size of the posts much, if at all. The efficiency gain has gone way beyond what I hoped for. I would encourage anyone who feels they may need help with focus or output to try something like this out.

The second new template which I started playing with a few months ago is my gallery posts. Originally, they where just a vehicle for me to post my numerous screencaps without burdening Karandi’s blog too much when I started posting my Bungo Stray Dogs reviews on 100 Word Anime. I quickly decided that it would be good to arrange the screen caps in chronological order to give readers a better visual map of the episodes.

However, as BSD was generous with production values and had some really great direction, I soon found myself prefacing the galleries with little commentaries on what I had noticed in the images. This season, I started adjusting this template for the 3 animes I’m doing gallery posts on. I started arranging the images by acts or grouping them together visually as it made sense and commenting on each section.

Given ep8-3 (2)
it’s super exciting!

I must say that my gallery posts are by far the least successful post I publish by any measure. They are also some of my favourites to put together. It’s such a great way for me to appreciate the episodes and I plan to keep doing them even if it’s just for myself. In this case, the template isn’t a way for me to gain time or efficiency but a way for me to discover new aspects of shows I’m watching and enhance my appreciation of anime in general.

There are a large number of elements I would never have noticed if I hadn’t tried out this new post structure. I think it has made me a better *reviewer* and that gives me a little thrill.

Although I have a general outline I follow for my series reviews, it’s nowhere near as detailed. Mostly it’s a basic format but it has no clear outlined sections. I want to try to create a more detailed template and plan to try a few things out in the next reviews I write. Obviously top 5 posts all have a clear structure in place by their very nature and I find this has helped me a lot as well.

I will still keep my essay posts freeform though. I think this approach yields a different tone and output which is more suited for editorial type posts. You don’t want to get too predictable after all!

But for posts that are meant to be at least partially informative there is definitely something to be gained from a template. I got a bit excited by the anecdotal results I was getting so I felt the need to share my experience with you! Do you already use post templates? If so, have you also seen benefits from it? Are there any unique or unusual post structures that you’ve noticed or have wanted to try out?

Fancy Rini


24 thoughts

  1. I have a template for my round-up posts so I don’t have to wrangle the HTML into working shape every time (it doesn’t like to cooperate with the Gutenberg editor though, like I was saying to Crow just before). Generally, my posts are the simple intro -> 3 ideas (possibly with subheadings) -> conclusion, so it’s not much more than a less classy essay, but when you have to churn out writing on a weekly basis, a reliable format can be the best one.

  2. Giving away the sauce huh. interesting.

    I don’t write using a template per se but all my posts share similarities depending on the topic. I try to follow a similar format but with every set of posts things really keep changing.

  3. I use templates. I have basic setups for most of my posts that I clone when I need a new post. Makes it sooo much easier, particularly for the deal roundup posts.

  4. I have my template for my more reoccuring posts (reviews of any sort, band profiles, etc) just to keep myself on track. Sometimes I start writing one thing, and end up writing a completely different post mid way. So I’ll pull the new idea out from the intial post and put it in a different one. Kinda like plant splitting but with writing lol.

    I had no idea how much effort and consideration you put into your weekly review and gallery posts. It really gives me a new appreicate for why and how you do the things you do on your blog!

  5. “Do you already use post templates? If so, have you also seen benefits from it?”

    Pretty much all the benefits you mentioned!

    You mentioned focus — I wasn’t ready for just how much more I could focus on content. I used to publish small-press magazines and newspapers, so I’m really picky about format. So I’d spend more time than I had making sure the heading was the right tag, that the order of sections was the same, that the ads were in the right places, etc. That’s why I originally switched to Thrive Architect — I could make templates for my full reviews and my Best of Show reviews.

    By having the format already laid out, I could not only focus, all the energy I would have spent worrying about format was not available for writing.

    Plus, my posts looked more consistent.

    Also — I love the monocle.

    1. I wonder why we don’t see more eyepatcg monocle people. I mean if you loose an eye, you still have the same chance to be short sighted in the other… Odd things occupy my mind

  6. Only an hour? And to keep up such high quality writing? I envy your talent!

    That’s a very quick post for me. 3-4 hours is about right for an anime review, not to mention the screen caps. And if I have reviewed something, usually I’ve seen it twice. I know I’ve spent 8 hours over several days on an OWLS post or a really personal post. Or a hiking post with lots of photos.

    Often I am never satisfied, major revisions to the last minute. I’ve been known to go back and add or subtract material months after post date.

    Now that school is back in session, my time is not as free. My output has dropped. Ah well! I’m thinking about one post a week, maybe focusing on Evanglion for now. And the occasional hike for my nudie followers.

    Not the bright side I am close to 200 followers. It may not seem like much but it matters to me. I have made zero special effort to get them, except for OWLS and JCS. I lack the will and confidence to do more.

    1. “And if I have reviewed something, usually I’ve seen it twice. ”

      I find that I can’t really do a review justice (not saying I do, mind you) without watching it at least twice. I’ve tried taking extensive notes, but that ends up multiplying how long I watch it once by 2.5 or 3; it’s probably faster to watch it twice!

      “Not the bright side I am close to 200 followers. It may not seem like much but it matters to me. ”

      That’s great. That means there’re 200 people who not only liked your stuff, but liked it enough that they want to know right away when you publish something new.

      That is what being a writer is all about.

      “I lack the will and confidence to do more.”

      I don’t recommend anyone follow my path, but I can tell you that you don’t need confidence to write. Just will. I’ve said before (and interestingly enough, I’m serious) that I hate everything I’ve ever written. That’s not relevant. What’s _is_ relevant is that I can’t not write. So I write.

      In other words, it’s possible to write without confidence. You’ll just get strange looks when you fess up.

      I enjoy reading your stuff, so I’m probably just being selfish in encouraging you to write more!

    2. That’s great! I actually had a fellow blogger tell me it took them roughly 15 minutes o put the whole post tgether, my 1+ hour is just writting. I need another 45 mins or so to format and thats if I don’t edit…

  7. I’m honestly awful about any routine with my blog nowadays. I’ve become on of those “write when inspiration strikes” people. If something was so good or so bad that I HAD to write about it, then that means I’ll put out something that I believe is quality. There’s no real structure to any of my posts past a few bullet pointers nowadays.

    In my early blogging days though, I put out some very neatly formatted stuff with research. My reviews were all similar in structure and tone. Ah, to have time for blogging again 🙁

    1. I feel your pain. Anime is getting crowded out by life. Just got home from a sub job and I feel like I’ve been through the tumble dry cycle in the dryer. If I find time an energy to do anything before bedtime it has to be a household chores of some sort.

  8. That scheduled is crazy, but at least you’ve found ways to make it more efficient. I could never review seasonal anime week to week.

  9. Back during the early days in my blog, I used to have a very strict template for reviews that went “Introduction → Story → Characters → Art/Animation → Conclusion.” Even now I find myself occasionally looping back to that mindset even if I didn’t necessarily plan it. (Art/Animation seems to always find its way at the end.) Lately it’s just been what I think is most relevant to my own opinion of a topic’s strengths/weaknesses. Whatever stands out most, I cover first, then work my way down. It makes writing posts easier because I have more to say about a topic and I’m someone who tends to find a groove the more I write, so just starting manages to get me to finish easier.

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