The Guide to Making Guides

Topic started by sotyfan16 on Oct. 20, 2011. Last post by takashichea 1 year, 12 months ago.
Post by sotyfan16 (1,341 posts) See mini bio Level 20

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.

Beginner's 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

Advanced Guide

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

Complete Guide

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

Conclusion

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.

-Will McQuigg ( sotyfan16) is your everyday anime/manga enthusiast. You can also find him on Twitter ( bildo_88).

Post by takashichea (11,879 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

Dude! This is awesome.

Crud! I forgot to mention the voice talent and how other websites rate the franchise under the Beginner Guide Section. I'll remember to to include that next time in the 2nd version.

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.

A good tip.

Also, if you are a wiki editor, your time for the guide is cut short since wiki editing takes the research out. (I don't know how much) It took me two months to plan the beginner guide for Shaman King after finishing the 32 volumes (Back in late July 2011). For the actual writing, it took maybe 5 to 12 hours in 3 sittings due to school. Plan ahead and space out your work.

Plus, images need to be watermark free. That's was my mistake in my first guide even though it has the author's name on it.

This is way better than the notes I took. I will bookmark this for reference!

Edit: Actually, I remembered trying to be neutral in the beginner guide, so I did not post people's comments/ reviews on the franchise. This is way better than my notes on beginner guides.

Post by sotyfan16 (1,341 posts) See mini bio Level 20

@takashichea said:

Plus, images need to be watermark free. That's was my mistake in my first guide even though it has the author's name on it.

I forgot about that but with how the Wiki is now, that shouldn't be a problem unless you search images like I do (though I avoid any marks anyways).

And to top off the time thing, this blog took me 3 hours. I think the longest some of my other long blogs took was 2 hours.

Post by takashichea (11,879 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

@sotyfan16:

I wouldn't be surprise. That blog was intense with details. Of course, the blog will take a long time to make because it needs love and to be double checked. I hope everyone will use this guide proudly. It's like a big checklist.

People, ask Sotyfan16 for questions. He's the CEO of Anime Vice! Vote for him in the October Vicer of the month!

And to top off the time thing, this blog took me 3 hours. I think the longest some of my other long blogs took was 2 hours.

Same here. It took me five hours (or more) to do my first recognition blog. That was for Fairy Tail. Had to go thru wiki submissions for that. When I had a vitae list, it just streamline the blog and cut hours back. Thank god for the new features on the text editor. The staff is awesome with the new upgrades. I did another blog called Your Generation 1 and 2, and it took so long to edit each image and add the years.

Edit:

Thanks for the awesome guide! Let keep the ball going. The more guides, the more happy and informative community we have.

Post by KuroNekoXIII (427 posts) See mini bio Level 14

@sotyfan16: Sweet article! I was wondering how to make guides for the longest time, and this is definitely very helpful. Thank you very much!

Post by Superevil225 (6,742 posts) See mini bio Level 17
A guide of a guide.... Incepguide.
Anyways, great work Will! <3 Worth reading and lots of good tips! THANKS!
Post by sotyfan16 (1,341 posts) See mini bio Level 20

@KuroNekoXIII: @Superevil225:

No problem you two.

Post by ShadowKnight508 (5,319 posts) See mini bio Level 19
Moderator

@sotyfan16: Great feature, Sotyfan16. I have been procrastinating in regards to doing a Beginner's Guide for Sora no Otoshimono since considering it back in February of this year. I keep putting it off since I fear that I will over-saturate it with details as seen with some of my Wiki submissions on pages that I have had the chance to work on over the past 2 years. Perhaps I should really consider getting back into doing it since your guide was really helpful (oh...congrats on the HOTD Guide!)

Post by sotyfan16 (1,341 posts) See mini bio Level 20

@ShadowKnight508:

I understand how you feel. Thanks about the Guides.

If you generally follow what I pointed out in this blog then you should be fine. Remember that there are 2 seasons so you can make 2 Guides and to keep the basics for information (we don't need a Wiki page in an article).

Post by takashichea (11,879 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

@ShadowKnight508:

You know you could add a topic on figurines for Sora no Otoshimono in your future beginner guide. That could be a new style, and it sounds awesome. That'll help you ease off the temptation of adding too much details to the beginner guide.

For me, I read Sotyfan16's guide out loud and time myself. You can read it like a story to little kids (which I should have done for Shaman King because I was not sure if people understand what I'm talking about). Usually, it's four minutes or so. I try to match that. I'm pretty sure you'll write a great guide for your series because you watch the show, worked on it, and talked good about it when people talk smack about it. I break down my guides' work in chunks for school, so I'll be ready to post it.

You have a small cast of main characters to work with which is great for you: Astraea, Nymph, Ikaros, Sohara Mitsuki, and Tomoki Sakurai.

Post by takashichea (11,879 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

Sotyfan16,

After I finished the Rave Master's Beginner Guide and replied to KuroNekoXIII, I thought about this statement.

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.

What about theme songs? I showed Kuro the different theme songs. Maybe, the writer can upload two videos: English and Japanese. What you think about this idea?

Post by sotyfan16 (1,341 posts) See mini bio Level 20

@takashichea:

I think that would work. They didn't come to my mind as they don't give the reader a visual idea of what is going on (unless it is footage of the opening and ending). However, if they are not released from the licensee(s), then don't post. The Guides are about being official and using a random user's video does not work.

Post by takashichea (11,879 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

@sotyfan16:

Thank you. I keep that in mind.

Post by takashichea (11,879 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

I know you scrapped the idea of mini guides on twitter, and I agree with you.

When should you create a Beginner Guide (usually)? I know you said to me it's better to do it when a series end.

The three hottest summer anime shows in this community are Binobogami Ga!, Sword Art Online, and Kokoro Connect. (I won't make a guide on Kokoro Connect. I'll leave that to someone else).

There is this momentum that I wish to capture with the community while the anime series is still new and fresh in their heads. I can't really explain this well, but I guess I'm a little anxious or something.

Post by sotyfan16 (1,341 posts) See mini bio Level 20

@takashichea:

There are two ways to think of it. You can make a Beginner's Guide that covers the first season or wait and see (about a year is a good length of time) if another season will come out and then work more on a bigger Guide. The thing with waiting is you then should wait until you are sure (from new sources, manga, etc.) the show is over before doing a Guide. Though in that case you could make a Complete Guide. I have not made a Guide on new series yet because I generally want to keep to what I own since viewing and information are readily available. On that note, if a series isn't licensed and then does get picked up, the Guide becomes outdated and cannot be changed unless it is posted in the Forums or Blog. Granted, such information about the disc release and such is minor but it is good to have. Let alone if you want to talk about the dub or anything else that has to do with the US release.

I understand the feeling of capitalizing on fresh and popular material. But from what I said above, I now know a little more about why I do things the way I do.

Post by takashichea (11,879 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

@sotyfan16:

Oh yeah, I see. For the Blue Exorcist Guide: if I did last year, I wouldn't mention about the dub news and Neon Alley. It would be the same guide as Revamp's. I just forgot that the anime discussion threads and weekly reports are there to serve that purpose. I shouldn't rush these Beginner Guides. Thanks, I just got too hyped up. I'll take it slow and wait. Like you said, a year would be good for ongoing shows, and for short shows like Blue Exorcist or Kore wa Zombie, I'll wait to see if they do dub, movies, or anything special for that franchise.

Post by sotyfan16 (1,341 posts) See mini bio Level 20

@takashichea:

Speaking of movies and waiting and such, maybe I should try tackling FMA. Would be a time consuming project. Also, I'm wondering if I should come up with a Guide for movies (ex. Summer Wars). I will have to give thought to it.

Glad I could help.

Post by takashichea (11,879 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

@sotyfan16:

I'll make an Anthology blog for your beginner guides and everyone's guides since it's easier to recommend new manga/anime series to the new folks coming to Anime Vice. A movie guide sounds great.

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