Friday, February 24, 2006

Editorial: Writing a Review

I've been asked to write a little about how I go about putting together the weekly reviews.

The lion's share of the work for a given review is the research. I have a list of over fifty blogs and forums, and I review each of these over the weekend. What I look for is specifically something that approaches general theory. This may be in the context of game design or a play example, but unless a point is made generally I cannot include it in the review. I also look for novel developments, posts which push the state of the current discussion, or at least describe those ideas more clearly than usual.

That produces a list of basic topics, with some url references. For heavily discussed topics I try to find a spread of references, which show the different sides of the debate. I avoid "me too" posts, and focus on summaries or descriptions of a particular position on the matter. Some topics aren't discussed broadly, but I include them in the review if the meet the novelty and generality tests.

Then I summarize the major stories, into short blurbs. I keep away from judgmental language, as best I can, and instead work on finding the most succinct way to accurately describe the ideas presented by the references. Often this is easy, but sometimes it can be difficult.

Then I do a final proof checking pass, and post the review. The entire process usually takes between two to five hours, depending on how much theory discussion occurred in the week. Most of that time is spent reading blogs and forums and taking notes.

I'm always looking for more blogs and forums to add to my list. At the moment, it usually expands by references from blogs currently in my sources list. However, I welcome suggestions for additional sources.


Christoph Boeckle said...

Thanks for sharing this info Mendel!

Perhaps you should post the list of blogs and forums you visit, so that we may know which links are useful to you and which not.

Mendel Schmiedekamp said...

My current list of sources can be found here.

Rich said...

Sorry for leaving this as a comment. I couldn't find a way to email you directly.

But, since you asked for other blogs, I'm writing essays (focused largely at the moment on using well-known writing techniques to improve the story content of RPGs). Check it out at Overstuffed Dicebag.