UPDATES AND RECAPS (the two types of soap summaries we have on our sites)
Here are the instructions (and some helpful hints) on writing our soap recaps or updates. Soap recaps are the short ones and updates are the longer ones.
While you are volunteering to work on this site, the rest of us are TRUSTING you. That means you need to watch the show carefully and then write the summary carefully. It also means our readers are trusting you. We trust that you will watch carefully and write what you see, and not misinterpret things or make them up. We do understand that no one is perfect, some things are left up to interpretation, and stuff happens that you can't prevent. Please just keep in mind that you have our trust and not to violate that. If you didn't see the whole show, don't write the update or recap (or at least check with us first).
Please only use a computer or tablet to do your work. Trying to do it on a phone won't work unless you're really good at writing and editing on the phone.
These are just a few paragraphs' summary of what happened, the main points only. Get each main point and don't worry about details.
We like fairly detailed summaries for these, more than just short recaps.
There are three different ways that I have used to write the updates. You probably shouldn't type as you watch the show live, if you can help it, because you are more likely to miss details (since doing two things at once is difficult), and since the show is airing live, you could be interrupted by the phone, a visitor, an emergency, etc. Also, if you are not a super-fast typist, you could get behind and miss a bunch of stuff on the show.
1) Record the show (or watch it streaming) and watch it while you type, so that you can pause or stop the action when you need to.
2) Watch the show, taking notes as you type. Right afterwards, type up your update.
3) Watch the show, then type up the update right afterwards, using the transcript as a guide to remind you of any details. NOTE: The transcripts are sometimes posted very late, so this is not the optimal choice.
When writing your update, you want to put in as much detail as possible. Never worry about it being too much because it's much more likely it will not be enough. You want to summarize all of the action and dialogue and paraphrase some of the dialogue, following what goes on in every scene as much as you can without repeating yourself.
You want to make sure to include every character that appeared and what they
are doing, and not leave out important scenes or people. People are
relying on you to tell them what they missed!
In some soaps there is a lot of repetition, so you can do more summarizing. For instance, if someone has a flashback to an earlier show, you don't have to describe the whole flashback, just say something like, "Sharon has a flashback to her and Nick making love the night before", or "Whitney has a flashback to when her family was happily celebrating Christmas". A lot of soap dialogue involves people arguing, and frequently those arguments are repetitive. You can summarize by saying, "Sonny and Carly argue again about why they broke up. He says that he will agree to shared custody if she moves out of Lorenzo's house. She says that she can't trust him to keep his word". In other words, just give the important bits of the argument, not the whole back and forth between the people fighting. If the argument is a long one, you can give more bits of it, but you really don't want to overdo it. Just put in the important parts of what they are arguing about.
If you are directly quoting dialogue, make sure to use quotation marks properly. You don't want to use too much quoting, though. If you really want to, you can just put in the occasional line that is very funny or interesting.
Make sure to put in WHERE the action takes place, such as, at home, in the hospital, at the restaurant, etc. Since you are describing the scenes and their action, you want to make sure to note when characters come and go, and how people are reacting to the dialogue (the emotions they convey).
The main goal here is to make it so that readers who missed the show can visualize what happened when they read your update. The secondary goal is to make sure that someone who has just started watching the show can read your update and not be too confused. You don't want to use "fun nicknames" for the characters because this can be distracting and make it hard to read the update. A few personal comments about the show are okay, but you don't want to have too many, for the same reason. Don't worry too much about "writing style" because this is not great literature :) the point is to just describe what happened so that people who missed the show can catch up.
I understand that sometimes you are in a hurry or can't quite get in all of the detail. It's okay to occasionally have a shorter update (just don't make it too often).
BOTH RECAPS AND UPDATES
You should write your update or recap in some word processing program such as Notepad, Wordpad, Word, or Word Perfect; run spellcheck, proofread your writing (look for typos, punctuation problems, etc. and especially read it through to make sure it makes sense). You want to then save it before you put the update in the form (or mail it), and keep the copy around for awhile in case there are any problems. We don't currently have any proofreaders for the updates, so we want your update or recap to be as well-written and readable as possible.
If you have questions about grammar or punctuation, I would be happy to answer any questions. A good resource is at OWL, and there are exercises there for you to practice with as well. I don't have a lot of time to do this, though, so if you don't get it within a week or so, it probably won't work out.
If you are reading this, it means that you just volunteered to work for our
site. Now you are going to write your first recap or update. This
means you are on "probation" until I read your contribution. If your
writing is not up to our standards, then I will let you know, which probably
means you can't write recaps or updates for our site. I may offer to help
you with the writing or just give you a few pointers, if it's not too bad.
Please don't take it too personally because I am kind of picky about the updates
and recaps. We have other writing for our site that I'm not as picky
about, so perhaps you would be interested in writing fan fiction, trivia
quizzes, opinion articles, poems, top ten lists, or puzzles instead.
Please let me know! Thanks!!
Here are some examples of updates I and others have written in the past, to give you an idea of what is expected. Ignore any pictures; someone else puts those in.
All My Children
As The World Turns
Bold & Beautiful
Days of Our Lives
One Life to Live
Young & The Restless
EXAMPLES OF RECAPS
Note that sometimes our volunteers write recaps that are a bit lengthier than
we would like. Some people have trouble writing concisely. Please try to write
concisely. Here's a good example of one that I wrote for B&B that is concise.
BOTH UPDATES AND RECAPS
A lot of the shows spell the characters' names in an unusual way, so please make sure to check out our cast lists to double-check the spelling on the names!
Reliability: We need our writers to be reliable! That means, if you cannot do your update or recap that day, you need to make sure to email me or Brenda to let us/her know, as soon as possible (so we can get someone else to write it if need be). If you know you are going out of town or something, please also let us/her know. Obviously we know that sometimes real life gets in the way and you can't let us know, but please do if you can, as soon as you can. If Brenda or I email you, please make sure to reply and to answer any questions we have, as soon as possible.. This would seem like simple courtesy to most of us, but some people have problems with answering email. If you need to take a break from writing the updates, or you need to quit, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can find a replacement. If you need to take a break longer than a week or so, we may try to find a replacement writer permanently.
Writing tip: Since we type these as we are watching, it is tempting to
write in this style:
Brooke is dreaming about Ridge. She and Ridge are dancing.
It's better if you use the actual verb rather than using the To Be verb with it (called passive voice).
Brooke dreams about Ridge. They dance.
Thank you so much for helping us out! Our transcripts, updates, and recaps are the most popular part of our site, so yours is a very important contribution.
Please make sure to fill out the questionnaire, if you haven't already, and read the Volunteers Page.
The questionnaire is just for fun, so I get to know everyone. I don't share it with anyone else. If you feel any of it is too personal, feel free not to answer those questions.
Written March 3, 2004
Updated slightly 1/23/23
More grammar resources:
Everyday grammar guide
Grammar guide for online writing - https://blogging.im/grammarblo