Every league produces cards, in a variety of forms. The easiest form is a list of winners and losers, but most feds produce cards featuring detailed match descriptions
I think you need something more than a series of matches to produce an interesting card. It helps to have breaks in the action, such as humorous commercials, special interview shows and such. Things like this provide a change of pace and let the card showcase multiple aspects of the league. Better yet, have “breaks in the action” which build heat for the card: interviews with participants in the main event, and interviews with the perpetrators of mid-card run-ins and sneak attacks. These things should be separated by one or more matches from the match they pertain to, so that the card has a continuous flow, rather than a series of sharp transitions.
For instance, a card could open with the announcers talking about tonight’s grudge match main event between A and B, and a brief recap of the feud. Then, interspersed with other matches, have “last minute locker room comments” from both sides. After a couple more matches, have the main event. I think this spread-out approach works better than treating each match as a completely separate event, which is a common approach (especially when several writers work on the card). Speaking of recaps, if you’re going to save your cards for posterity (and I think you should), as you write the card keep in mind whether events will make sense in a few months. People who haven’t been following the league, or who’ve forgotten the reasons which led to the A vs. B match, won’t see it as a heated contest unless you tell them why it is. This goes especially for feds which produce lots of flashes separate from the cards: include the key flashes (or snippets, at least) with the card, so that they’re preserved for future readers.
Nowadays, most feds have the write-up work split among several people. I think the card reads better if it looks like it was written by one person (same announcers, same formatting, etc.), regardless of how many people actually worked on it. For consistency, I think every match should receive the same kind of write-up (all play-by-play, or all description). However, the matches themselves should be different. They shouldn’t all end the same way, and a grudge cage match should read differently than a friendly sporting contest. Having more writers available means it’s possible to write longer cards, but I don’t think that’s the way to go. I think there’s a limit to how much players are willing to read (and it varies by player and league).
If you present players with a huge amount of text, it may be too daunting a task to read it all, so they’ll ignore most of it and read only the parts which have something to do with their own characters. I think 30-40K is a nice size, but that’s for a medium-sized league. The key is to produce quality cards (and length goes into quality) which are the players are willing to read. Finally, get it done on time. This is another argument against writing overly long cards: they take too long to write. If you don’t want to compromise quality by doing rush jobs every week, slow the fed down.
Spread things out: don’t have every title on the line every week, and don’t feature the A vs. B feud every week. Let things happen at a reasonable pace so that there’s plenty of time for buildup, and so that everyone gets their time in the spotlight. This means fewer, more interesting matches every week, and you can give them the time and energy they deserve.
By Gavin Bannerman, credit to Aidan Palmer
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