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Lessons Learned While Recapping Doctor Stranger

doctor-stranger

If you read my blog, you should have noticed that I recapped the drama Doctor Stranger. I decided to challenge myself by writing a recap for every episode and I’m happy to say that I succeeded in my goal. There are now 20 1,000+ word recaps that chronicle the entire show on my blog.

Unfortunately, while I’m proud of the outcome, I can’t say that I really enjoyed the experience. Why? I think it mostly came down to the show itself. If you watched it or followed the buzz about it online, you’d know that Doctor Stranger was a mess. It was a show lacked direction and enjoyed toying with its viewers. The word logic was seemingly missing from the writer’s dictionary.

Here are some important lessons that I learned during the 10 week experience

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1. Recapping takes a TON of work. 

Looking back, I dedicated a ridiculous amount of time to producing those posts. On Mondays I would watch the episode and post the recap on the same night. I could usually start between 6 or 7, depending on when subs were available. I usually watched on Viki since I could start watching even when the episode wasn’t fully done. I had many the internal debate if 85% English subs were enough for me to start or if I should wait until at least 90% complete.

For an hour long episode, I need two hours to watch it while I recap. This is because I take screenshots while I watch. Every few seconds I pause to take a quick shot to capture the moment. I tend to take way more pictures than I could possibly use for two reasons. 1. I don’t need to go back while writing to hunt for the right picture and 2. Capturing almost all of the moments helps me remember the sequence of events. I also take notes, but I’ve found that pictures are more effective.

Once the episode is watched and the screenshots are saved, it would usually be about 8:30 or 9pm. I’d make some coffee and settle in for a long night. Three to four (sometimes even 5) hours later I’d have the finished product. Finishing at 1am was the usual goal, but 2am passed by more often than I’d like to admit. Tuesday morning was never fun since I had to wake up at 7am for work…

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2. Recapping has a relentless schedule

While I am usually someone that likes having a schedule, recapping takes this term to a whole new level. The urgency to publish a recap as fast as possible quickly consumes any blogger that wants to recap a currently airing show. I found myself becoming obsessed with trying to “beat” other recappers and be one of the first to publish about the latest episode. But did it actually matter? Not really.

It’s easy to feel extreme pressure, especially for the first episode that airs during the week. If I didn’t stay up until 2am to finish, I’d feel that I’d lost the challenge. I was determined to always finish my post before the next episode aired. Who needs sleep anyway?

Lee Jong Suk Beg

3. Recapping a show does not guarantee it will be good

The only other show that I’ve recapped from beginning to end was Man from the Stars. I must say that that show gave me very unrealistic expectations of what it means to recap. With that show, every episode was exciting. When I sat down to write, I had no trouble putting in the effort because I actually enjoyed rehashing what happened in the show.

In addition, I was posting these recaps on Soompi, thus giving me a wider audience of readers. Knowing that thousands of people will be reading your thoughts really brings some great motivation! Doctor Stranger also started strong which fooled me into thinking the recap experience would be similar. If the first two episodes had been bad, I never would have committed myself to this endeavor. Alas, Doctor Stranger did a fantastic job of getting my hopes up and them shredding them into tin pieces. Another lesson learned: Sheer will cannot make a show good.

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4. It’s easy to feel under appreciated

As mentioned above, recaps take a lot of work. To be honest, my goal of writing these lengthly posts was always for others to read them. I had grand ideas that people would flock to my blog to read my weekly thoughts and start discussions in the comments section. While I did get a small following of readers, it was never near the level I was hoping for. It’s particularly tough when you spend hours and hours on a post and not a single like or comment is given. It’s hard not to feel like your efforts were pointless.

I think there is just too much competition. Dramabeans and Koloa’s Playground do such a great job with recapping dramas that most people don’t think to look elsewhere. My blog is newer and rather unknown compared to the big hitters.

Another problem was that my previous recapping experience was on Soompi. I was used to having tons of hits and comments on my posts since the traffic on that site is eons beyond my tiny blog. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how good your writing is. If you want exposure, you need to have a good platform to display it on. Guest blogging on an established website is the quickest way to fame.

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5. Social media is a good way to get exposure

It’s not perfect, but social media helped me advertise my posts and gain more of my sought after exposure. Twitter, Facebook, and the forums on Soompi were my trusty resources. Thank you to everyone who helped share my recaps!

Final Thoughts

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Will I recap again? Probably not, at least not anytime soon. After it was finally over, I felt so drained that I had lost most of my motivation to blog. I’m instead going to focus on smaller articles and reviews. I’m also expanding my writing exposure by guest blogging on DramaFever! I’m really enjoying not having a strict posting schedule.

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My advice to those thinking about recapping a show:

1. Be ready to spend tons of time in front of your computer.

2. Pick a show that should be absolutely fantastic. This is so very, very tough to judge but it’s critical to the recapping experience.

3. Try not to be discouraged if there is a lack in readers once you publish! I think this was the hardest part for me. Feel free to send me your recaps- I’ll be sure to read them!

4. Reviews and short episode reflections can be a good alternative to full episode recaps. Be sure to think about what outlet best fits your time schedule and style of writing!

5. Posting on your blog should be never be a chore. You should enjoy the writing process as much as the final product.

What have you learned from recapping dramas? Do you enjoy it or is it not worth the effort? What advice would you give to potential recappers? Please share your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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7 replies »

  1. Ah, the harsh reality of recapping. Even having been around for 4 and a half years, it is still depressing when you spend tons of effort and get little discussion. 😦 but…recapping is what I like to think I do best.

    Unfortunately, I’ve picked quite a few disappointing dramas to recap, but after stopping recapping so many dramas when I first started my blog, I vowed to stick things out even if the drama frankly sucked. But, then it does become a chore and interest in getting things out in a timely manner drops way down.

    Oddly enough, I do get comments where people come to my site & ask my opinion on a drama so far as they don’t want to read the recap & have the plot spoiled. Always interesting when people tell you up front they don’t want to read your hard work for whatever reason.

    I think that I learnt that I can never compete with the bajillion blogs out there, especially the very popular ones. I decided to stay away from drAmas that everyone else was recapping 10 times over so that I felt I was actually adding something of value by covering dramas few others or no one else was covering.

    I’ve returned to reviewing this year once more, but still enjoy recapping even when it can be a thankless task at times. 🙂

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    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m glad to hear that you still enjoy recapping even after so many years! I took a look at your blog and your recaps are fantastic. I can really learn from you! That’s a good tactic to stay away from the big hitting dramas. Focusing on smaller dramas can give your recaps a great appeal. The big sites really are too much to keep up with!

      I’m taking a break for now from recapping, but I’m sure the urge will come again if I see a great looking drama coming up. Recapping can be super enjoyable, but finding the right drama is the key!

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      • Some days I enjoy it more than others, but it is something that I do like to do for the time being anyways. Thanks for checking out my site! I always worry about my recaps 😛
        And as hjlyon says, it does burn you out. My longest recap took me literally a day to write. An entire day when you combined everything altogether from screencaps, etc. I’ve taken entire months off without feeling too guilty about disappearing from the recapping scene for a while. Rest up, recharge, and hopefully find a drama to fall in love with that won’t disappoint, which is the hardest thing to do. It seems like more and more dramas can get off to a strong start but cannot maintain pace and interest and fizzle horribly. Sticking with dramas that are dragging you down once they take a turn for the worst…not a fun thing. The dramas I ended up hating the most are the dramas that drive the most readers to my site, lol. Go figure. Although, I’m not sure I’ll painfully struggle through dramas that started well and then bombed anymore just to have a complete set of drama recaps.

        Thanks for posting this as I was nodding along and agreeing with you the entire way! And I finally came out of silent lurker mode on your site, lol.

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  2. Some of the posts on my blogs, where I did brief recaps of 7-10 shows a week, took me more than 10hrs to do 🙂 I SO feel your pain!!! I stopped recapping full episodes and did the weekly summaries, but that still ended up being extensive when you watch as many as I do. I’ve not been able to post for months (other than the bare minimums) because of the burnout, honestly, and health/time issues. I’m just now wanting to get back into it because of Night Watchmen! So please, take a break from the recap process, it’s harsh LOL. I give Javabeans and Girlfriday SO much credit for all they do 😛

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  3. Well written and thought out blog.

    Recaps take time. So far I have not been stuck with a dud show. The plus of recaps are greater understanding of a show through analysis. Used to be bugged at small readership. But now I do it more for me and on a time schedule that works for me. I agree short analysis recaps are as satisfying as blow by blow recaps. I am doing that for Fated To Love You. There are excellent full recaps being written. My take is to add my thoughts into the mix.

    Life is about balance and I am glad you are actively exploring what works for you. Ok, I sound like a shrink which I am not. You get what I am saying though.

    Look forward to your next post.

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  4. Loved this post….I actually wrote a post about recapping a long time back….all of your points are spot on…what I found most annoying while recapping was that it was killing my enjoyment of watching a show…it felt like I need to complete this task asap — taking screen caps, writing, and I was even started watching the clock…so that the ep completes and I can write my recap…I didn’t get comments (which I expected that I won’t be getting any…but there were surprisingly one or two)…but there were lots of views to keep me going….but then I realised what was the point of it all if I’m not enjoying my dramas as I used to and it really became an exercise of sorts…Also, recapping doesn’t give you writing satisfaction because you write what the story said for the most part…in short…here are my thoughts https://thedramacorner.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/writing-a-recap/

    So now…I only write my thoughts on certain episodes, first impressions, thoughts on upcoming shows and movies, OSTs, and yes, reviews.

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