Putting a Cap on Your Recaps

by Ashley on December 20, 2010 · 16 comments

Whether it’s a blogger’s tale of his first marathon or her recent vacation to Europe, recap posts of major events are some of my favorite reads. When someone writes about an event in which he is emotionally invested, his personality shines through. That’s the best.

But when a recap is broken down mile-by-mile, bite-by-bite, minute-by-minute, it’s too much. Not only are shorter blog posts generally better received by your readers, but you can’t enjoy any event if you’re constantly taking notes or photos for a post. In the end, it’s a waste, because a post that’s so long it takes up the entire length of your home page probably won’t be well-read — it’ll just be skimmed.

So, where’s the elusive happy medium? How can you do your big race or fabulous dinner party justice on your blog — without writing an eBook about it?

Don’t think chronologically. What’s your most vivid memory from the event? Chances are, it’s not the bagel and peanut butter you ate an hour before the race. Begin your post with the best part of the whole event — the feeling after crossing the finish line, the look on your guests’ faces when dessert was served — and your readers will be hooked.

Think visually. We’ve talked before about how the importance of choosing one or two great photos over five or six mediocre ones and tips for editing and organizing those photos. If you’re recapping a major event, you probably have tons of photos to choose from –and it’s awesome to have those choices! But you need to think like an editor and choose the photos that work well with your post. Your “lead art,” as we say in the news business, could be the most compelling photo from the event — maybe your SO got a great candid shot of you serving the cupcakes. Or you could choose  the photo that sums everything up — your post-race shot with your finisher’s medal slung proudly around your neck.

Resist the urge to share every single detail of the day. So, you wanted to stop and use the restroom at Mile 4, and there was a line, so you decided not to, and you waited until Mile 6 … it doesn’t matter! A recap is supposed to be about the highlights, not a stream-of-consciousness total recall of every detail. It detracts from your post — and really, from the event — if you weigh it down with minor details.

Do you have any tips for writing recaps in a more concise, reader-friendly way? Any great easy-to-read recaps to share? We’d love to see more great examples of bloggers getting it right!

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marie December 20, 2010 at 4:30 pm

I think we must lurk on all the same bad blogs. What really gets me are the people who carry their cameras during the marathon and snap photos of themselves mid-race. Crappy photos, no background, no substance. What’s the point? Oh right– MY FACE!

My most popular blog post of all time was a top 10 list. You’d think I would have learned something from that. 😉
marie´s last post ..a typical me post in which I babble incoherently about running and beer

D December 20, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I think that detailed recap posts are cool, as long as the event is unique to the blogger.

I think that recaps are generally turn sour when they are either a) a recap of a holiday (hello, we all have thanksgiving, and NO ONE needs to read a huge long post that generally involves the same food and traditions as every other blogger and reader!) or b) a recap of an event that a ton of other bloggers participated in. On these occasions, I really appreciate the bloggers that make their recaps short and sweet, or at least really creative. When you read the same play by play of the same marathon (where the bloggers even stay in the same hotel room, eat breakfast together, walk to the starting line together….etc) it gets really boring and ridiculous. I tend to either read one and skip the rest, or skim them all. And when it comes to big events like HLS, I don’t read any of the recaps. I can’t deal with the same pictures on a ton of blogs, the same food, stories, etc. Too much!

Rachel Wilkerson December 20, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I highly agree with D — reading ten recaps of the same event is exhausting! It doesn’t do anyone any good!!

My solution to long recap posts is to do videos with pictures/audio/video. From an aesthetic point of view, I like not having 1000 pictures to scroll through on my homepage, and it can be a more fun and creative way to tell the story. But I’m always looking for tips to make even recap videos shorter — I love the idea of not thinking chronologically.
Rachel Wilkerson´s last post ..‘Twas the Night Before Fake Christmas…

MelissaNibbles December 20, 2010 at 7:22 pm

I agree with D.
Also, posts that just goes on and on with every minute detail of someone’s day are boring. Edit your posts like you edit your outfits!

Lisa December 20, 2010 at 8:19 pm

This is a great post about the topic. I fall victim to this once in awhile. I feel like so much is important I want to share it! But then I sit down and edit myself and realize that it’s not ALL important to the story.
Lisa´s last post ..Homemade Minestrone Soup

Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers December 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm

ah! i agree with this… to some extent. i actually like reading detailed recaps about things i think are interesting… like date nights, holiday traditions, etc. if it’s a recap about something that doesn’t interest me, i scroll through it and just look at the pictures. i am probably your worst nightmare of a blogger right now as i am in the middle of totally dragging out my wedding through a series of recaps. i simply cannot cram that special day into one post. i have so much to say and i am honestly blogging about my wedidng so i can look back on it and relive the day through my blog and my words since the memories are fresh in my mind right now.

Ashley December 20, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Hey, Julie, I actually think that breaking recaps into several different posts is by far the best way to go! If it’s an event as multi-faceted as your own wedding, you could never contain it to one post, and I think readers really like reading about such personal events (I do). I’m getting married in July and will have to check out your wedding recaps!
Ashley´s last post ..The simpler- the better

Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers December 20, 2010 at 9:56 pm

ah! congrats on your upcoming wedding ashley!

shelby December 20, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Definitely agree with this post. I actually think it’s pretty hilarious (in, like, an annoying way) when someone is in the middle of a recap of some big life-changing event and they stop the story to post a picture of the apple and granola bar that they ate in the car or whatever.

And yeah, pictures. Quality trumps quantity for sure.

And yeah, events where a bazillion bloggers are there and all writing identical recaps. If you can’t find a way to make the story uniquely yours, then just skip writing about it.

I know some bloggers who write really great race recaps, and I think it’s because they focus on what they were feeling and thinking along the way, not just what they were doing. So much more interesting than a literal play-by-play.

Teri [a foodie stays fit] December 21, 2010 at 1:02 am

That’s funny you say you love recaps because I usually don’t – and just because they are so wordy with way too many details. I like to hear the highlights instead of a step-by-step replay of everything that happened. I wanted to recap my most recent half marathon because I ran it in my Vibram FiveFingers so I pick the top 10 highlights from the day to talk about. People said they enjoyed the recap!


Tiffany @ Simply Shaka December 21, 2010 at 3:22 am

Thanks for posting this–I need some help in this department. I really intend to keep recaps short and sweet but then I go off on a tangent and it’s not so much a recap or highlight post anymore.

I tend not to read the posts when bloggers have attended the same event b/c like Shelby said, it’s the same thing in every single one and I usually can’t find a unique spin on that. I also usually don’t read the Xmas/Thanksgiving/Easter posts as well b/c it is traditional stuff that doesn’t intrigue me. Now tell me you did a sushi spread for Thanksgiving and you will have my full attention.
Tiffany @ Simply Shaka´s last post ..Operation Triple R

marie December 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm
Melanie December 21, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I like race recaps because they motivate me. Holiday stuff and weddings, I usually skim through. I was very much over the HLS, though. I ended unsubscribing from one blog just because I needed to cut down on the repeat posts of the exact same thing.
Melanie´s last post ..My “Special” Gingerbread Adventure and the Peg-Legged Moose…

bitt March 12, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I know you talk about shorter posts but I feel the overall trend is to have shorter posts and I feel like I am left wanting more. But not in a good way. It just seems some bloggers don’t want to put the effort in to really write in depth. But maybe my attention span is stronger than the average?

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