Anime Vice! Hear me now! Takashichea has been flattering me by saying I am the 'CEO of Guide Making'. Don't worry, my ego hasn't gone out of control from the growing praise I'm getting. All of that just comes together to make me work harder to create more content for the site for all you users to enjoy. But to the point. I have been getting more and more messages asking for my help/advice on making Guides. So to cut back on confusion and create a spot where all Guide questions can be asked and answered, I am writing up this blog.
Here, you will see what I go through to write a Guide. I'll include some helpful tips and point out some Guides to use as guidelines. Also, I will break down each (current*) Guide Type: Beginner's, Advanced, and Complete. And for the record, I have wrote 9/26 AV Guides (6 Beginner's, 2 Advanced, 1 Complete).
*If I create other Guide types I will edit this blog to include them.
What it Takes to Write a Guide
When I want to write a Guide I start off by looking at my anime collection to see if there are any series worthwhile that A) do not have a Guide already and B) have gone by the wayside or are big hits. From there, I usually rewatch the first episode as a refresher (though sometimes I'll watch the entire series). The next part is doing the research. To be honest, I mostly use Wikipedia for author/illustrator background and the history behind the franchise. From there, I write up a summary of the story. After that I start with character descriptions. Then, I think about what brings viewers in and what stands out (along with what goes into the show's rating). Finally, I end it all with a short summation.
Now, there are plenty of details here and there in the process but each writer has his/her own way of doing things. I highly suggest/stress that you write the Guide in a word processor like I do because it really helps with spelling and grammar errors and you don't run the risk of losing your work.
After I'm done writing the whole thing (I always write it in the order seen in the posts) I reread it at least half a dozen times while editing along the way. Once I'm satisfied, I paste up to the Characters section into a PM to start formatting. I start by linking, bolding, and italicizing all words/names/etc. that need/should be pointed out, followed by putting in the primary picture after the Intro. The next step is adding in a 2 by X(number of characters) table. Be sure to add the line for writing after the table before putting the table in (just like when you embed videos). I add one character at a time (picture and description) and do all my image searching during this part of the process as many times I prefer to find my own images for characters, etc. because I don't like what is on the site. I then link whatever is needed in the table. All that is followed by pasting the rest of the Guide into the PM and continuing the linking, bolding, italicizing, etc. Lastly, include a legal trailer relevant to the Guide at hand (not the show as a whole). Once finished, I H2 all the section headers and put in my author's signature (followed by at least one read-through of the final product). Then I hit send (unless you wish to just post the Guide in the Forums like Superevil225 and Taka did).
The whole process of writing, editing, formatting, image hunting, and info checking takes about 6-8 hours normally. I usually like to do the whole thing at one time and not in increments. I'm real picky so the time can be cut down if you're awesome. The Complete Guide to Afro Samurai was done between 3-4 hours and that is the fastest I've done one. Therefore, Guides take time, care, hard work, and all the other words that describe stuff like this and should not be approached in a haphazard manner. In fact, I will not acknowledge a half-assed Guide as an actual Guide.
This Guide is pretty simple. The primary purpose of this one is to provide background info on the franchise and give basic info on what the series entails.
- Intro: This part provides background info on the creator(s) of the manga, the manga and anime info, and whatever else the franchise includes (ex. games, soundtracks, etc.). Other interesting details can be added if not too long.
- The Story: This is just a summary of what the plot is. A lot of times you can make this just by watching the first episode and posing cliffhanger questions at the end.
- The Characters: Basic/general information/observations of each character that has significant impact on the entire series/arc (depending on the length of the show) will suffice; don't want to give away the good stuff.
- Why Watch?: Be sure to mention what makes this series popular, obscure, etc. along with what stands out and is enjoyable. Also, include the rating of the show and the reasons for it. Don't forget to provide some voice talent info for the 'sub vs dub' debate.
- Verdict: This is more or less a shorter version of the previous section that tries to persuade readers to watch the show or read the manga.
- Trailer: This is a new element that has yet to appear in one of these Guides but trust me when I say that a visual preview of the show after reading about it is exactly how to reel in readers.
*This is just a basic format. Be sure to add your own style and flare to make the Guide interesting. Find a way to hook the reader into either rewatching the show, or for those new to the series, giving it a look. I do my very best to keep everything neutral and only be slightly biased in the Verdict section because the Guide is made to inform the reader while leaving he/she to create their own opinion upon reading/watching. A very interesting thing to do is time the posting of the Guide with a significant date in the series or the real world. An example of that is the Beginner's Guide to Love Hina.*
*Good Example: Beginner's Guide to Dragon Ball Z
This Guide is to shed light on the next arc in a series and introduce new characters/information.
- Intro: This is nice and short. Just point out where this arc occurs in the manga and give a link to the Beginner's Guide.
- Previously: This summarizes the events of the previous arc that Beginner's Guide covered.
- The Story: Same as Beginner's Guide just for current arc.
- Miscellaneous: Don't actually put that as a header. At this point, include/explain terminology, etc. that comes up in the arc that is not a spoiler.
- New Characters: Same as Beginner's Guide but just for the fresh faces
- Why Watch?/Verdict: Same general format as the Beginner's Guide just combine the last two sections.
- Trailer: Again, this has not been done with this Guide Type but make sure it is only for the arc at hand and a legal trailer from the licensee. If such conditions are not met, do not include this part.
*This format works best for covering consecutive arcs after the Beginner's Guide in long-running shonen series. I have yet to decide how to title the Advanced Guide for the 3rd arc and onward. Other than that, pretty much the same stuff as the previous Guide.*
*Good Example: Advanced Guide to Bleach
This Guide works best for short, mini-series and movies.
- To be honest, this Guide is a glorified version of the Beginner's Guide. Reference the Afro Guide.
*The trick with this one is to really make it pop and grab attention so readers will want to take a look at what is covered since there is little time commitment.*
*Only Example: Complete Guide to Afro Samurai
I know that is a lot of info. Trust me, I'm the one writing this and my hand is cramping. But this stuff is not easy to explain in short form without leaving major gaps. I cannot stress enough these two points: 1) do not include a trailer in any Guide unless it only has to do with the arc at hand and is from the licensee (ex. Viz Media, FUNimation, Sentai Filmworks) and 2) avoid spoiler content as much as possible, if not entirely-even in the Complete Guide. You want readers to go and check out the shows for themselves and gain their own opinions to come back and discuss with other users.
Now, granted, all of this is based on the style of my Guides and there are other Guides wrote by other users. These are just my opinions and how I get things done. Oh, and before any of you ask, no, I will not write a Guide for you. I am more than happy to give advice to any of you who wish to write one, though. I hope this is helpful to all those who want to write Guides. Be sure to comment if you have any questions.