Now, before I get to my entry for today, I'm going to do some self-shilling and link to the TEAM Tournament Finals:
Now, I've posted feedback threads at FW, A1, ENN, EWN and PTC, and a grand total of two people got back to me; BraveHeartFan and Josh Ray. I appreciate both their feedbacks (and Josh's was very insightful and thoughtful). But I want more. I crave more. I know more than just two of you read the match. I wanna hear what you think, and I want to hear strong opinions too. I don't just wanna read "oh, it was okay," or "oh, I didn't like it." Praise me. Rip into me. Do something. I wanna know what I'm doing wrong and what I'm doing right.
For the love of God...
Another thing before the entry... Scott Perry over at EWN has opened up a new, funky little concept. It's called the Hotel, and he's described it to me as a soap opera by day and a fighting fed by night. All of this will be written by Scott himself, so it's kinda like my EWA project, which I promise you, is not dead. I'll at least try to follow this, because it looks different, and different is good most of the time.
Anyway, to the entry for today...
A couple of months ago, I wrote an entry on the mechanics of a good RP. Basically, it was my content criteria checklist. It was every ingredient to having a good steak.
But on Food Network, whenever they have cooking competitions, be it on Iron Chef or these pastry cookoffs or whatever, taste is never the only criteria for winning. At first, I thought that was stupid, but really it isn't. Think about it. Would you want to eat something that looks like shit? Probably not. Only the most adventurous of folks would venture to eat something that didn't look appetizing.
It's the same thing with RPs. You could have A+ talent and charisma, but if your formatting is shitty, only the most adventurous souls will try to read your shit. That will hurt you in the long run. If you have great content, you need to be able to show it off by making your prose read all silky and smooth. But how do you do that?
Well, we've all read badly formatted RPs before, we know the pitfalls... but what if we're the ones who are making the cardinal mistakes? Well, this is for you. Of course, I don't claim to be perfect, and I do make these mistakes from time to time, but I also know they're mistakes. So use this checklist and make sure your RPs don't confound your readers.
Spell-check Nothing will make you look dumber than you really are than spelling errors. One typo here and there won't do you in, but multiple spelling errors in multiple promos... well that doesn't bode well. We all know spelling doesn't make the message go round, but it can turn off a lot of people. So, if you feel like you aren't the strongest speller in the world, or if you're just a stream-of-consciousness writer who worries more about ideas than syntax when it's all coming out, just C&P your promo into MS Word and let the spell-checker work for you.
Paragraph breaks Seriously, paragraph breaks are your friends. Reading thick blocks of text can be hell on the eyes, and they're also great concentration breakers. If you're verbose, that's fine, you don't need to shorten your promos up. However, you should look into using paragraph breaks early and often. Get what you have to say out there in short bursts, with white space surrounding each small chunk of text. That way, the words don't jumble together, and people pick up more out of the promo.
HTML Contrast is also a big difference-maker in making your RP aesthetically pleasing. Differentiation between script text and setting-building text is especially crucial. In the old days, I used plain text encased in parentheses to differentiate the setting text. Looking back on those promos, I found they were harder to read than the ones I put out now. Getting fancy with the HTML is a great way to make promos look snazzy and streamlined. Very easy to read. Usually, I stick with regular bold and italic, but other folks like Dan Scifo and Josh Weiner incorporated colors, tables, fonts into their promos. If you have all plain text though... it just makes things look too homogenous. It's the same principle as using paragraph breaks.
Now, if you format your promos like a pro, that's not going make you a superstar. But if you have superstar-level talent, it will bring it to the forefront and take you to the next level. You need to have sizzle and steak. Having too much sizzle and no steak is no good, just like having your steak not sizzle at all is no good.