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!
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.
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.
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?