Kat and I have worked together to recap several shows both here and on Caray Caray. She has so much stamina and I can never get over how much she recaps. It’s something I envy. We’ve had a lot of conversations in the past about recapping. One conversation we would always come back to was “Why even recap in the first place?”
I don’t think I’ve ever really had a true sense of why I’ve recapped. Honestly, there were even times I found recapping to be a chore that I hated doing.
I recently recapped every episode of Rey David and I had a blast. I think it helped me figure out what kind of recapper I am and helped get me in the right headspace for it.
There are as many reasons to recaps as there are recappers. My problem in the past was trying to recap for the same reasons others were. I don’t think I ever figured out a good enough reason for me to recap until I started recapping Rey David.
The Recapping as a Service Model
There was a time that recaps were a necessity for English speakers, so when I started recapping it felt very much like I was providing a service. This model stressed me out. I always felt like I needed to include every. single. word. in every. single. scene. No one told me I had to, it’s just something I assumed based on other recaps I had read.
It also lead to pre-capping. For those who may not know, precapping is when a recapper finds an episode online and recaps ahead of time. In an attempt to get as much translation in as I could, I started precapping. I was spending every night a week trying to get my next week’s episode ready and I hated it. I eventually gave it up, but then I ended up staying up way too late on my recap nights rewinding and rewatching and trying to get everything into the recap. Recapping this way made it pretty much impossible to recap more than once a week…or on any day but Friday if the truth be told.
With the prevalence of English captions I started to drift away from the service model of recapping.
Recapping for Comments Model
Paula H. once wrote an article on Caray Caray about the Care and Feed of Recappers. The basic premise was, we’re spending a lot of time writing recaps, the least you can do is “shuffle your feet” and let us know you are out there.
I know some people probably wouldn’t recap if they didn’t get comments. I’ve certainly recapped for comments. Then I noticed something. Comments started getting off topic. Heck, I even participated in it. A kind anonymi even made sure to tell me that the majority of the comments on my recap was off topic. And as much as my feelings were hurt by this, I have to concede now that they had a point. Did my recap even need to be there if the majority of the comments weren’t even about the recap or the episode of the show?
The truth is, my recap absolutely didn’t need to be there if most of the conversation was just chat. I could have just put up a post with “talk about whatever.”
So that time I spent recapping? Wasted. I know, some will argue it wasn’t, but if I wrote it thinking people needed it so they could talk about the episode and they aren’t even talking about the episode…do you see what I mean?
I completely understand the recapping-for-comments reasoning, but I have seen it lead to “every comment is valid” thinking. It is a well established fact that I am an asshole, so I think that no one will be surprised when I say that for me, not every comment is valid. Every comment is valid on a chat thread. Not on a recap thread where people are trying to talk about a show (and my apologies again to anyone who had to suffer through my banal chatter while you were just looking for comments about a show.)
Recapping as Creative Writing Model
There are some amazing recap writers out there. I am not one of them. My writing sucks. I know it. I can say that I will never see recapping as a way to practice, improve or polish my writing. I will always just be slapping some shitty words into the compose window of the blogging platform.
Lessons from Rey David: The Half-Assed, Lazy, Selfish Model
I think I finally learned to recap for me. I was just entertaining myself and comments were not required.
I learned to stop being so hard on myself. I didn’t worry about what I thought a “customer” wanted, namely every word and scene accounted for. I wasn’t trying to capture every word. I was recapping as an exercise in Spanish comprehension, so I just took notes on what I understood and recapped from what I recalled. My thinking was if I could recall it well enough to recap it, I must have comprehended it well.
I learned how incredibly lazy I am. As much fun as I had, I don’t think I could ever recap a whole series. Rey David only happened because there were 30 episodes and it aired close to a vacation from work. I had two weeks to recap. There is no way I could recap, even half-ass recap, every day.
I learned that I like short recaps. This may just be because I am so lazy. I was always checking the word count. I like to keep recaps under 1500 words. That’s not always possible, but that’s my magic number.
I learned I will never be a full recapper. I will always me a mini-capper.
I learned I am not a real-time recapper. Getting a recap done before the next episode airs is never going to happen with me. I still pay for cable and I have a DVR. I will recap on my time.
I learned that I really like recapping and looking forward to doing it more.