Week 8: Unit 9 project weekly summary (Greg)

Summary of work completed this week

Due to having completed unit 1.1, 1.2 and 2.1 for this project, I focused mainly this week on creating the first draft of my article and spoken word. Upon completely my first draft of the spoken word I then evaluated my work critically after comparing it to professional standard work. I then took this into account and redrafted the piece. I then e-mailed the second draft to my voice actor contact to receive feedback as he has done spoken word pieces in the past as well as professionally paid voice work. I have included the first drafts of the spoken word, evaluation, article draft and feedback from my contact below.

This week was very productive and I made a lot of progress towards my final pieces. The article will likely be finished next week and finalised. The spoken word piece will be edited slightly but due to positive feedback from peers and my contact I will only be making moderate structural changes and word choices.

The work I completed was of a good standard. I will likely have the final drafts off both completely next week. I will then be able to work on the audio piece for my spoken word with my contact. This will leave me with plenty of time to complete an evaluation and finish my project by my original deadline of the 16th of December.

Spoken Word Work

Article Work

Contact Feedback

“Hey Scott,

Damn this was really moving and enjoyable. I’ve already got a nice rhythm going in my head.
What I will say is don’t be afraid to abbreviate. As much as the language of poetry is very fantastical and melodic, spoken word still needs to sound in a way like a conversation of some sort. So look closely when you write “I am.” and “I’m” and decide which sounds more real and conversational.

Also, a great piece for you to listen to is To This Day by Shane Koyczan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltun92DfnPY
If this doesn’t get your creative juices flowing then nothing will.

I hope you keep working on this, it’s really great.”

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Week 8: Unit 9 project weekly summary (Greg)

Week 5: Unit 9 (Script writing and skills research – Gregg)

Skills used this week

This week there was a focus on the creating of a script using prompts. We were given pieces of paper and had to all write out two distinct characters, a location and an object and then place them in a hat and they were redistributed among the class. The two characters then had to have a scripted dialogue in which they had a conflict over both wanting the object specified on the piece of paper.

We also had to write an article based around an image and use this to create a compelling 25 words. From this I then created a full brief article in which I expanded from the initial image and used it to open up more discussion and present more information.

Theme: The script we wrote had to be centred around the theme of conflict. This skill was practiced by centring the piece around a randomly object and then having to write a piece in which two characters both required the object thus generating the conflict. By the very nature of this task it focuses around writing with a direct theme in mind, this is something that I can apply to my future work for the coming project in regards to angling an article to a specific theme in mind. This is a skill I intend to use going forward with the creation of my pitch as well as the project itself in the coming weeks. This skill is widely used in the industry in order to open up discussion around a theme from how a story is reported focusing on a specific theme.

Conflict: This skill is vital for the industry. The majority of news revolves around conflict in some form or another and is an inevitability of working in the news industry. All reporters much understand the theme of conflict in order to effectively report on it. Practicing this skill will be vital for the creation of my final project for this project. I will be taking this skill forward and applying it to my next piece in terms of how to present conflict in the spoken word format while incorporating a separate theme.

Character arc: The skill of character arc was touched upon through the use of the characters interacting with one another through dialogue. This helped to show a visual representation of how the character progressed which the audience can see through their reactions and what they choose to say.

This is a also a skill I used for the newspaper article. Reporting on a character arc of a real life situation really engages the audience and helps them to engage and emphasise with what they are reading. It helps to bring home the element of humanity and causes the reader to acknowledge the people they are reading about are real. This is a technique used by many different outlets in the industry based around generating empathy and interest their readers in an article.

Dialogue: This was a skill that focused around the writing of the script. Due to the nature of a script it is entirely dialogue driven for the most part. This was a good exercise in implementing narrative purely from a vocal standpoint and tell a story through the conversation of two people. This is something I would like to take forward and apply as part of my research for my idea for my final piece for this unit. I wish to do a spoken word piece which in tone will be conversational in the style of rhyming prose, being able to write dialogue that is engaging and tells a story is vital for this.

 

Professional examples

Death Knocks – Woody Allen

Syria Photos article

Own examples of skills being used

First 25 words (and rest of the article)

Scripting activity

Evaluation of own work in reference to professional examples

I felt my work this week was done to a good standard. While I did initially find the concept of the scripting task quite difficult due to the unplanned nature of the piece. However, I found this was a good way to practise quick thinking and finding different ways to meet a criteria. This could be a useful skill to incorporate with my final project as well as with journalistic based articles in the future in order to find different angles for a story combining differing factors such as how I combined the different elements of the this piece to explore a theme of opposing characters and anger of the character Jane.

Theme: I feel I explored several themes almost subconsciously while writing my scripted piece. This was mostly due to the nature of the piece being created from differing factors of which I had no control and then finding a way to tie it all together into one cohesive narrative. This is a skill that will be vital in the industry in order to tie different stories together to encourage further reading and keep readers interest and to use as a springboard into other stories. I feel the theme of opposites and of conflict as a whole was well portrayed by the characters in the piece while still maintaining it’s intended comedic aspect. In this regard I took note of the above piece from Woody Allen which can be seen through lines such as “OH BRILLIANT OF ALL THE DAYS TO GET A CONSCIENCE” which I feel was directly impacted from reading the writing from Woody Allen in terms of style. This ironic kind of comedy is reflective of the example of work of Allen’s I analysed before writing the piece itself. I feel this had a direct impact in the writing and therefore also impacted on the theme. I feel considering the scenario I was given I created a good piece of work that reflects my skills as a writer and ties together nicely as a short concise narrative.

The theme of my second piece of writing in regards to the first 25 words is reflective of the continual theme of conflict in Syria and touches upon the journalistic skills I mentioned earlier. Using one image I was able to springboard from this into an article discussing how the ongoing in Syria has had a direct impact on the children in the country. I was then able to make this more relevant by supplying context to the image and give background information the purpose of the image and the photographer to slowly build a full story around this image and the journey that led to it being taken. With information slowly drip fed throughout the article (as I was taught last year) it gives the readers more reason to continue to read the article. I also broke up the first 25 words from the rest of the article using the image as it encourages readers to scroll which then scrolls more of the article into their screen which will directly impact how much of the article they will read. Not only did I apply the skills used this week but also last year to create an article that reads professionally.

Conflict: The whole point of the piece written was to reflect a theme of conflict. At the very centre of my script there is a core theme of conflict. The whole piece could not exist without the two characters wanted the used tissue for completely different (and in Jason’s case misguided) reasons. I feel due to this I have reflected conflict well and this then later extends to inner conflict such as Jason being a ghost who is alone and scared of other ghosts and Jane who has this inner conflict due to finding things difficult by being short and leading to her aggressive and confrontational nature. The scripted piece portrays a more comedic style of conflict rather than the useful expectation of conflict being quite serious and tense. The whole piece is filled with moments of humour, even the outburst from Jason is comedic in nature due to the whole reason he’s mad being due to his own incompetence due to not understanding the used tissue was just that.

The article reflects conflict in a different nature than usually expected. I took the idea of conflict and instead of discussing it from the usual angle of tension and how this will affect the world, I instead centred in on a more directly impacted area – the children. Conflict will naturally have an impact on those who grow up surrounded by it, but not necessarily in the obvious way. There is a subtly that can be looked at, such as the image of the child having a toy rocket powered grenade launcher, a much more violent toy than usually expected. By exploring this theme from this angle I am incorporating a industry skill in which I find a way to explore a story in a way others haven’t and therefore can directly aim it to a specific audience. So in this case the audience would be those who have children in their family or those who work with or have contact with children. It makes a story relevant to people who may not otherwise be interested. Also by making it more sociologically based it opens it up to even further discussion and can stem out into multiple different stories and feature pieces opening it up further.

Character arc: In both pieces I have used the skill of characters arcs in very different ways. I feel I have done this in both pieces to a high level of success. In my script the characters go through a range of emotions and, while comedic, go on a specific journey through their interactions with one another. Jason goes from shy and scared to eventually building up to lose his temper and standing up for himself becoming slightly more assertive and Jane has moments of calm and opens up slightly between bouts of anger. While this arc is limited due to the length of the piece and its comedic nature the best written scripts have moments of both comedy balanced out by moments of character progression and seriousness. A good example of this is in shows such as ‘Only Fools and Horses’ where the tone would occasionally shift in this way to give good character progression. This is also seen well in episodes of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ as whole episodes could centre around serious topic such as race and gun violence yet still balance the element of comedy and combine these two to create a well structured character arc throughout the episode.

In my article piece I focused my piece around the image as an original point to draw the reader in and then discussed children in Syria and how violence there has affected them from a sociological angle. So in this case the character of this piece in centred both around the children of Syria as well as the photographer. I detail the story of the photographer and his collection of photo’s which initiated the discussion in the article. Including this character arc and effectively reporting on it adds an element of humanity to the article, this is essential in order to keep readers attention and elicit empathy from the readers. In this case I feel I did this to an industry level standard pulling from experience gained from last years lectures and my work experience at The Canterbury Times.

Dialogue: In regards to dialogue this only mainly affects my script piece. I feel I used dialogue well in this piece to creatively portray and express a central theme and show conflict. This again delves into the area of show not tell in terms of using dialogue and how they interact to learn about the specific characters. I feel like I used dialogue to a good standard and my writing style was (as mentioned above) directly impacted by the reading of the Woody Allen piece I read before writing the piece. I feel the piece uses dialogue to good effect and shows a lot about the idea of conflict and how dialogue can cause and impact conflict and how it can even exist without anyone saying anything(such as Jane and Jason fighting over the tissue before either one say anything to the other).

Dialogue was central to the scripted piece due to the exercise itself. Without dialogue the entire piece would not work and therefore the dialogue was the most important element of this piece. This means that if the dialogue is not of good standard the entire piece will be directly impacted negatively. I felt my dialogue both showed conflict and stuck to the characterisation. There were a few occasions where I found myself rewriting certain lines to be more in character as some responses had airs of my own sarcastic nature imbued in the subtext. I had to continually refer to my prompt of the characters themselves to prevent myself from changing how I portrayed the character and not allow elements of myself to creep into the characters. By ensuring I kept this in mind I avoided this issue and stuck to the characterisation well.

Bibliography

Allen, W. (1968). Death Knocks. The New Yorker, p.31.

Abd, R. (2013). Image of Syrian boy playing with a toy rocket launcher. [image] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-22170300 [Accessed 4 Nov. 2016].

BBC News. (2013). Bearing witness to the Syrian conflict – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-22342713 [Accessed 4 Nov. 2016].

 

Week 5: Unit 9 (Script writing and skills research – Gregg)

Week 4: Skills -Screenplay and filming (Gregg)

Skills used this week

This week the skills practiced were much more multimedia based than in previous weeks. Our work this week was focused around creating a short film based around the theme of loneliness. This is something I found very useful, as working with a set parameter and guidelines of what to create while still being given creative freedom, is something that is expected of all journalists and writers in the industry.

Working as a group: One of the most important aspects of this week’s work was to work together as a team in the creative process. This is something I have had little experience with as I am usually working on projects by myself with little to no input from others. This is something I found incredibly useful as not only did it allow me to discuss my ideas and therefore develop them further, but also take on board ideas I had not considered and apply them to the project.

The main way I found this impacting the work was through the generating of ideas. I initially had a basic idea of a script around a person being ignored and slowly disappearing as they were unnoticed by people around them. This mainly  was based around my interest in video editing as I felt this would be a good challenge for myself. However, upon discussion with my group we combined this with another of my group’s idea of it having a narrative based around friends. This eventually evolved into a narrative about a boy being dumped by his girlfriend and how his brain was reacting to this idea of being alone in his head. We discussed how we would portray this bouncing ideas around with each other and taking notes until a fully formed idea was created. Everyone in the group had something to offer from idea generation and creating a narrative to another person creating a story board of which to follow to make the filming easier. My own personal input was more from a directors point of view as I had an idea of how I felt the shots should look and how I could then edit this. For this reason I also edited the piece.

Scripting/ idea outline: As discussed above my group worked together in order to generate and create an idea that eventually evolved into the final product. While one of our group worked on creating the story board myself and another from my group worked on writing of a formal script. This was informed using a script writing guide. As the piece was silent it was relatively short since we were limited to 5 words of dialogue maximum. In order to get around this we used the idea of texting and notes stuck onto a white board to portray inner monologue.

Filming: The filming process itself was relatively simple and easy, we were given an additional team member to work with due to them being absent the day before. I explained how we wished the shots to be done and showed them how each different shot would look ideally. This was made much easier with the help of the script and story board.

Creating a written piece: Using the video we were then expected to write a piece of around 300 words. I originally did this as a monologue. However after tutor feedback I was informed that it may not have had the impact I was looking for. It was suggested I then take the opening paragraph and elaborate on it more and use it as a springboard into a discussion of loneliness in the style of a journalistic feature piece. I therefore looked into some background information regarding loneliness and its link with mental illness. I then used this combined with my own experiences to write a personal account in a journalistic style of my struggle with mental illness when I was younger and how loneliness impacted on this.

Professional examples

https://stephenfollows.com/resource-docs/scripts/dark_knight._The_.pdf

Own example of skills being used

Screen writing

screenplay-week-4-greg (Writersstore.com, 2016)

Story Board

photo (2).jpg

Video

Loneliness written piece – Mr Nobody

Benches are a lot less comfortable when you sit on them in isolation. There’s something about it, it suddenly feels less comforting, and harder. It goes from a place to relax to just watching people walking past you, not noticing you. Until you start crying, then they take a slight detour around you like there’s this bubble of emotional instability they have to stay out of.

But by this point, you’re disassociating from reality anyway. You just replay the events leading up to the bench; all the signs that you’re about to be abandoned. The excuses, the cancelling of plans and the break up is always a pretty obvious sign that things aren’t working. You travel further and further inside your own head. Worthless, pathetic, useless. You crawl further into the grey. Waste of space, waste of time and a waste of a person. You start falling as the ground splits around you and swallows you in the realisation of how you aren’t good enough. And you start to fall. And fall. And fall. Further and further into the black until you’re so far down you can’t see how you got down there in the first place. Then you just sit there, and you accept that this black pit is just an empty bench with Nobody sitting on it. Solitary and completely forgettable. Slowly you start to disappear until there’s nothing left. You become a shell, hollow and empty. Filled with the black empty nothingness. The tears dry up and your skin becomes sand, course and fragmented. Until one day the wind picks up and you just blow away scattered in the wind. With no one left who cares enough to remember you. And even if there were you’re already gone, but there isn’t a you anymore, there was Nobody and he’s gone too. Farewell, no one will miss you.

Nobody Journalistic style piece

Benches are a lot less comfortable when you sit on them in isolation. There’s something about it, it suddenly feels less comforting, and harder. It goes from a place to relax to just watching people walking past you, not noticing you. Until you start crying, then they take a slight detour around you like there’s this bubble of emotional instability they have to stay out of.

A sense of being alone is something many of this generation’s youth face everyday. With a constant bombardment of billboards and songs about how to look and act creating this perpetual isolation. This loneliness can then manifest itself in causing the brain to function differently. Loneliness causes the brain to be in a constant defensive state often becoming defensive despite no actual threat. This can then result in lashing out at those who wish to help causing further separation.

My own personal experience has been a prime example of the affect loneliness can have on ones subconscious. After an extended period of time being ridiculed and berated by my peers at a young age in school I began to separate myself from human contact. I would hide in the toilets, in the part of the school no one liked enough to venture to. It was here I would sit for 45 minutes in silent isolation everyday 5 days a week. When I returned home I would go and do my homework and then go onto the computer until I was told to go to bed. While I have now improved considerably, I often find myself in a state of unrest and discomfort when unable to spend ample time alone. My ability to rationalise and understand human interaction was vastly stunted and as a result it took me from the ages of 17-20 to learn how to appropriately make conversation.

Loneliness has a tendency to manifest itself in long term mental health issues in many people, causing anxiety, disassociation and depression.

Loneliness can be much more common among the older generations. With cases of elderly people calling the emergency services purely to hear the sound of someone’s voice. In one such case An elderly man called into a radio station to talk about how he missed his late wife.

(Richards, 2016)

Evaluation of own work in reference to professional examples

Short film: 

I am very pleased with the final product of the short film produced this week. I have received very positive feedback from both my lecturer and peers regarding this. The aspect that was picked out primarily was the use of editing to set the tone of the piece. Such as the use of less colour when inside the boyfriend’s head while he is upset and putting the notes on the board. This effect is then no longer present once he has received the text from a friend to show his mood (as well as the screen) has brightened. I feel this set the tone for the piece well and showed the character’s emotion in a visual way rather than stating it and is a good example ‘show don’t tell’, a skill I have practiced extensively over the past few weeks.

In regards to a comparison with the professional examples showed I feel it stands up well from a filming standpoint and a narrative. The narrative is both clear and well executed using the editing to help show it and tie it together rather than carry the whole of the piece. Such as seen in the black hole short film, there is very skillful editing however the piece itself is not solely driven by this, it is the characteristics and attitude of the character that makes the piece impact the viewer.

While our piece does suffer from a quality standpoint due to a lack of time to film and likely less professional equipment (such as our tripod being quite stiff causing issues with panning shots) I feel this is something that would be easily avoided in the industry due to a longer time frame and likely a larger creative team.

I feel our piece was very effective as telling a story and using this to deliver a message without the use of words. This is something both Cargo and The Black Hole do well through actions speaking louder than words in the films. For example the father getting the balloon for the child and taking the time to make them smile despite knowing his fate, and The Black Hole showing the character well as the first action he takes upon discovering the black hole is to steal chocolate bars. Our piece showed the internal difficulty of someone trying to cope with loneliness and how a friend showing concern can help lift the mood and bring them out of there own head. This combined with the final hanging shot of the Yes written below the initial questions gives just as much impact as either of the professional examples. I feel with more time and better equipment we could have made a longer piece that would rival the two professional examples.

Writing:

While I did enjoy my first piece of writing it was coming more from my personal experience at the time rather than using the initial video as a prompt past the first paragraph. Due to this I opted to write a second piece from a more journalistic point of view, taking my personal feelings but presenting them in a completely different style. This allowed to set a different tone which I feel would give the readers a more human element through my own personal experience.

I do feel it is not my strongest piece of writing as I found myself with little idea of how to approach the subject matter and turn the video piece into something I could springboard off of. Therefore I feel that the first piece of writing, which for all intents and purposes became a stream of consciousness, allowed me to clear my head and focus on a more journalistic piece. This is a skill I have reflected upon in previous blog posts in order to deal with writer’s block. In this case it allowed me to bridge the gap from a video to a more journalistic piece, going from fictional short film to a stream of consciousness and then taking that and re-purposing it for what I had set out to do originally.

When writing I found it helpful to set myself specific time based deadlines, as this not only gave me motivation to beat the challenge I set myself but also helps to prepare myself for the demands of the industry in which deadlines are vital. This also helped to ensure focus and cause myself to self motivate despite distractions.

How to apply these to future projects:

Taking these skills forward in my project I feel the best was to incorporate my final pieces for my project for this term would be to write something creative such as a spoken word piece. This allows me to explore multimedia through audio and potentially video as well as tackle a form of poetry which I often enjoy doing in my spare time. I feel combining these for a theme based around education would also allow me to write a journalistic piece also or perhaps another style of narrative as each persons experience of education is different and personal.

Bibliography

Writersstore.com. (2016). How to Write a Screenplay: Script Writing Example & Screenwriting Tips | WritersStore.com. [online] Available at: https://www.writersstore.com/how-to-write-a-screenplay-a-guide-toscriptwriting/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

TROPFEST, (2013). Cargo – Short Film. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gryenlQKTbE [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

Future Shorts, (2008). The Black Hole – Short Film. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLEv1DPaINTKsHCwDWH-mnAD7T9ddwwEUT&v=P5_Msrdg3Hk [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

Nolan, J., Nolan, C. and Goyer, D. (n.d.). The Dark Knight Screenplay. [online] Available at: https://stephenfollows.com/resource-docs/scripts/dark_knight._The_.pdf [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

Richards, V. (2016). This is what loneliness does to your brain. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/loneliness-makes-your-brain-work-differently-study-shows-a6732056.html [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

Week 4: Skills -Screenplay and filming (Gregg)

Week 3: Skills

Skills used this week

The skills focused on this week related to the understanding of genre and how best to portray this, perspective and point of view and how this impacts the writing process and knowing your target audience.

Firstly we began by writing a piece about water based on an extract from “The Looking Glass” by Michele Roberts. We used this writing to inspire our piece focusing on any body of water of our choosing. For this I first wrote from the perspective of a young boy who was very unimpressed by the water, using sarcasm to describe the scene. I felt this showed the scene in a different way than the usual expected lenghty descriptions, with a target audience of younger readers in mind (again taking from the writing style of John Green, in his book ‘The Fault in Our Stars’). After this I wrote a second piece from an entirely third person perspective trying to give the water a personality; I described it as caring and maternal. In this sence I got the opportunity to both experiment with target audience and how perspective can be used to target specific audiences. I felt this exercise was of great benefit and can be equally applied to journalism through what facts and which ‘character’ to follow in a story to target a different demographic.

After this we did an exercise were we had to write from the perspective of an animal or object; we had to give personality to something unusual. In this case I chose a pillow. I orginally tried to replicate the prose poem style, but while writing I found it took form more as a letter. I used satire and sarcasm to target this at more literary minded readers as well as those with an interest in more humourous literature. I applied the idea of ‘show not tell’ heavily with this piece. The piece says more about Steve through the opinion of his pillow that it would simply being told by the character themselves or a third person description. A pillow sees you in your bedroom when most people are most vulnerable and so I tried to explore the idea of this pillow growing bitter in the years it had been used by its owner, hence the occasional insult and patronising nature of the rhetoric.

We then researched different reading material. This ranged from greetings cards through to articles. We had to read the article and work out the intended audience and who could be included in its demographic. While reading the article I was researching I managed to correctly identify the publication it was taken from. By looking at the style of writing, the wording of the headline and the content I was able to work out it was from the Guardian. We then discussed the article and how despite the fact it was based on research of 18-30 year olds this did not make up the entirity of the demographic. It extended to Guardian readers as well as those who had children of those age ranges or links to such as university lecturers and adult educators.

Professional example

Extract of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ – John Green

Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother
decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left
the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same
book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit
of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or
whatever, they always list depression among the side effects
of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of
cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also
a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.) But my
mom believed I required treatment, so she took me to see
my Regular Doctor Jim, who agreed that I was veritably
swimming in a paralyzing and totally clinical depression,
and that therefore my meds should be adjusted and also I
should attend a weekly Support Group.
This Support Group featured a rotating cast of characters in various states of 
tumor-driven unwellness. Why did
the cast rotate? A side effect of dying.
The Support Group, of course, was depressing as hell.
It met every Wednesday in the basement of a stone-walled
Episcopal church shaped like a cross. We all sat in a circle
right in the middle of the cross, where the two boards would
have met, where the heart of Jesus would have been.
I noticed this because Patrick, the Support Group
Leader and only person over eighteen in the room, talked
about the heart of Jesus every freaking meeting, all about
how we, as young cancer survivors, were sitting right in
Christ's very sacred heart and whatever.

(Green, 2012)

The Christening – Simon Armitage

I am a sperm whale. I carry up to 2.5 tonnes of an oil-like
balm in my huge, coffin-shaped head. I have a brain the
size of a basketball, and on that basis alone am entitled to
my opinions. I am a sperm whale. When I breathe in, the
fluid in my head cools to a dense wax and I nosedive into
the depths. My song, available on audiocassette and
compact disc is a comfort to divorcees, astrologists and
those who have ‘pitched the quavering canvas tent of their
thoughts on the rim of the dark crater’. The oil in my head
is of huge commercial value and has been used by NASA,
for even in the galactic emptiness of deep space it does not
freeze. I am attracted to the policies of the Green Party on
paper but once inside the voting booth my hand is guided
by an unseen force. Sometimes I vomit large chunks of
ambergris. My brother, Jeff, owns a camping and outdoor
clothing shop in the Lake District and is a recreational user
of cannabis. Customers who bought books about me also
bought Do Whales Have Belly Buttons? by Melvin Berger
and street maps of Cardiff. In many ways I have seen it all.
I keep no pets. Lying motionless on the surface I am said
to be ‘logging’, and ‘lobtailing’ when I turn and offer my
great slow fluke to the horizon. Don’t be taken in by the
dolphins and their winning smiles, they are the pickpockets
of the ocean, the gypsy children of the open waters and
they are laughing all the way to Atlantis. On the basis of
‘finders keepers’ I believe the Elgin Marbles should
remain the property of the British Crown. I am my own
God – why shouldn’t I be? The first people to open me up
thought my head was full of sperm, but they were men, and
had lived without women for many weeks, and were far
from home. Stuff comes blurting out.(Armitage. S, 2011) 

Own examples of skills being used

Perspective of a pillow

Dear Steve,

I am a pillow; your pillow. My life is awful. My kind have been used predominently for the comfort of people with menial lives. I have seen you naked. I’ve seen the weird stuff you look up online. I’ve been mentally and emotionally scarred by the time you and Sandra tried ‘experimenting’.

For two weeks I was neglected and forgotten on the floor behind the bed. When you aren’t home I do whatever I like and its great. I pay no rent and myself and the duvet play cards and discuss politics, far too intellectual for you Steven. And to be quite honest I find the term pillow talk not even remotely funny and quite offensive, although I am fairly fond of the Zayn Malik song.

I feel I should inform you that I have recently begun seeing the bed sheet. I realise that work based relationships rarely work out but I feel this may be different; I’m rather optimistic.

But honestly I don’t feel like what I say matters to you; there is not mutual respect. You drool on me on a regular basis and when was the last time I was cleaned? I’ll tell you when Steve, never. Its just self self self with you. No wonder Sandra left you, try and think of others for a change.

Signed your unfortunate pillow,

Darwin.

Water narrative

Water was dumb. It was boring and this particular water was especially so, still and unloving; it was the worst. Arrogant too, thinking its so majestic just because it was like a liquid window. Whoever said “I really find lakes exciting”? No one, that’s who and James was no exception. It was just like in all those stupid smarmy books from school, the water gleamed and shimmered like the first star in the night sky. Ugh, just shut up. Despite the fact it was the largest expanse of water James has ever laid his eyes on, he remained thoroughly unimpressed.

Water narrative in a different style of narrative

The shock skimmed the surface, once, twice, three times before sinking below and enveloping itself in the clear and maternal embrace of the water. After the sound of the splashes had quietened, the silence returned going back to the state of peaceful slumber. The sun bounced around on the water jumping from place to place covering the gentle blanket of the lake’s surface. Ripples from the rock had now settled themselves with no evidence of anything having happened. Water could never be hurt or scarred; it always returned to it’s original state.

Evaluation of own work in reference to professional examples

I found that my work this week was a good exercise in show not tell for and allowed me to explore different mediums of writing to create a piece of good standard. While I have been fairly settled in a comfort zone the past few weeks this really allowed me to experiment with my choice of narrative.

The one piece I found particularly useful was that of the piece of writing I did in the perspective of a pillow. I found this really gave me free reign to explore a range of different and more complex methodologies in terms of what skills to explore and implementation. This allowed me to have the opportunity to use show not tell in a completely different format. While before I was showing through a first person perspective and free indirect discourse, this is the first opportunity I’ve used first person to show the character of someone through the perspective of another. The use of the letter feels very reminiscent to the style seen in later chapters towards the end of “The Fault in Our Stars”, in which a lot of characterisation is shown purely through how the person being written to is perceived by the writer of the letter.

I did find the water narrative quite challenging. This came mainly through the switching of narrative styles almost immediately after having written the first. I got into a specific headspace in my writing and it was very difficult to then stop this flow of thought and switch tact. This exercise really allowed me to focus on this quick switching of narrative and will be a useful exercise in future in order to prevent myself from entering writers block. I feel like this could be very useful in terms of having issues writing something in a specific narrative, for example a factual article could be firstly written as a monologue or script an then switch up the medium and writing style back to journalistic writing and adapting the written piece. This is also a skill that has been suggested to me during previous work experience at The Canterbury Times.

I found that without realising it I began to unintentionally explore theme in my pieces. Through both satire and more serious descriptive writing I was exploring a theme of being an outsider. The first water narrative showing this young boy who couldn’t understand everyone’s fascination and then the pillow feeling disrespected by its owner. I feel this has carried through from my writing from last week with regards to the Syrian refugee piece.

Throughout my writing this week I have found myself using a lot of satire and rhetorical questions to express show and not tell. I feel this was an effective way of combining show not tell with a more mixed variety of skills. Sarcasm and what one chooses to be sarcastic about says a lot about someone. This is something I tried to express through free indirect discourse in the first water based narrative. While when writing it I found it to be quite laborious, after going back and reading it again, I feel it flows nicely and gives a good characterisation of the character while also giving the water some character of its own.

My use of mixing up sentence structure I feel was very effective in my pillow piece. Switching from long complex sentence structure to short and simple basic sentences keeps the reader engaged and prevents the reader from experiencing fatigue. Overall I feel I can see a definite improvement in my writing so far and the exploration of skills has really tapped into inate skills in my writing I was not aware I could do. It has allowed me to explore different methodalogy for expressing a character and I have found it very eye opening in both literally technique and the way in which I format the medium of my writing.

Bibliography

Armitage, S. (2011). Extract: Seeing Stars by Simon Armitage. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jan/24/simon-armitage-ts-eliot-prize [Accessed 10 Oct. 2016].

Green, J. (2012). The Fault In our Stars. pp.1-2.

Week 3: Skills

Week 2: Skills

Skills used this week

This week I worked on the skills of showing and not telling we looked through different pieces of writing and then experimented with this method. We were given a sentence and then told to expand on this. This include Barry was clever, she answered the phone and gave her name and a man walks into a bar. Two of these pieces are included below.

We then also worked on the method of writing to a theme. We looked at two extracts regarding showing fear, again linking in with showing not telling. We then had to write a piece that showed fear of something without simply stating it. My piece was written regarding blood and used a mixture of personal experience and metaphor to influence the style of writing. In the past I have suffered from panic attacks relating to blood, this is something I used to fuel the writing and create a sense of panic – trying to emulate my thought process when I panic.

We also looked at Hemmingway’s 6 word memoir in terms of being able to tell a story with only 6 words. This was something I felt really helped to improve my skills in terms of wording. Only having 6 words to chose to create the basis of a story and show some kind of narrative (or a point of view) is something that really helped me to think through my word choice and think about my writing from a different perspective. Each word had a purpose, this can also be very usefully applied to the journalism industry in terms of keeping wording short and to the point with no unnecessary information included. I feel this benefitted me greatly as keeping to word count is something I wish to improve on during the course of this year.

An over arching theme of this week was also specificity, this links in with the 6 word memoirs also. We had to make sure we included specifics in a piece of writing to really build a picture and a narrative around something. For this we focused on ‘A man walks into a bar’. We had to then take this and build upon it, how they walked for example. Where was the bar, why were they there etc. Building up a narrative is a key feature of writing and specific word choice is imperative. In order to write something with a specific tone, for an intended audience and with a certain theme it is crucial to make sure specific words and terms are used over others. For example if the man walks into a bar this doesn’t say much and is really just a bland statement. However, if the man were to stride across the room, the man now has a purpose and you can begin to build up more of a picture of the situation, the character and the the voice of the writer.

Professional example

An extract from ‘An Abundance of Katherines’ By John Green

The morning after noted child prodigy Colin Singleton graduated from high school and got dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, he took a bath. Colin had always preferred baths; one of his general policies in life was never to do anything standing up that could just as easily be done lying down. He climbed into the tub as soon as the water got hot, and he sat and watched with a curiously blank look on his face as the water overtook him. The water inched up his legs, which were crossed and folded into the tub. He did recognize, albeit faintly, that he was too long, and too big, for this bathtub—he looked like a mostly grown person playing at being a kid.

As the water began to splash over his skinny but unmuscled stomach, he thought of Archimedes. When Colin was about four, he read a book about Archimedes, the Greek philosopher who’d discovered that volume could be mea sured by water displacement when he sat down in the bathtub. Upon making this discovery, Archimedes supposedly shouted ‘Eureka!’ and then ran naked through the streets. The book said that many important discoveries contained a ‘Eureka moment.’ And even then, Colin very much wanted to have some important discoveries, so he asked his mom about it when she got home that evening.

‘Mommy, am I ever going to have a Eureka moment?’

‘Oh, sweetie,’ she said, taking his hand. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘I wanna have a Eureka moment,’ he said, the way another kid might have expressed longing for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

She pressed the back of her hand to his cheek and smiled, her face so close to his that he could smell coffee and makeup. ‘Of course, Colin baby. Of course you will.’

But mothers lie. It’s in the job description.

An extract from “Gunmen’s Wild Political War in Chicago”  –

CHICAGO- Anthony D’Andrea, pale and spectacled, defeated candidate for alderman in the 19th Ward, Chicago, stepped out of the closed car in front of his residence and, holding an automatic pistol in his hand, backed gingerly up the steps.

Reaching back with his left hand to press the door bell, he was blinded by two red jets of flame from the window of the next apartment, heard a terrific roar and felt himself clouted sickeningly in the body with the shock of slugs from the sawed-off shotgun.

It was the end of the trail that had started with a white-faced boy studying for the priesthod in a little Sicilian town. It was the end of a trail that had wound from the sunlit hills of Sicily across the sea and into the homes of Chicago’s nouveau riche. A trail that led through the penitentiary and out into the deadliest political fight Chicago has ever known.

Own examples of skills  being used

Researched story narrative

It’s ironic, a refugee standing outside a house; in the sense that an outsider is outside. With only a sewing kit gripped tightly in one hand he knocks with the other.

Three clear knocks. Knock, knock, and knock. There was a brief sound of movement and hurried panic. Pulled ajar there is the gaunt face of someone who has had just about enough stress for one day. The man turned to his companion, his son doing the same for guidance. “This here is Ibrahim. He would like to help with your current dilemma.” Ibrahim smiled and emanated that kind of warmth you feel when you see a particularly cute looking dog. He shook his sewing kit and pointed inside the house then back again to the sewing kit.

The three men were escorted to the room where hell had been let loose. A group of women were surrounding the woman in the white dress like a swirling whirlpool of fuss.

“Excuse me” Ibrahim’s companion began “This is Ibrahim and his son. I think they can be of some help.” The man and his son walked over to the woman who was centred fanning her face so as the tears welling in her eyes would not destroy her makeup.

Making way for him the women parted to allow Ibrahim to get to the woman. Again he smiled. The woman turned around and the tear in the dress for the first time was obvious. One woman looked away almost as if it were too much to bear.

Ibrahim the man who had been welcomed into this home as much as he had the country, looked at the zip. He chuckled to himself.

He worked quickly and efficiently. One stitch. Two stiches. His son holding his sewing kit. Three stitches. One minute passed. Two minutes passed. A woman walked over and began to start to work on the bride’s hair. Three minutes past. Always in threes, three stitches to start, three minutes to finish off, three years since he fled Syria.

Show don’t tell

Barry was clever

It was 13:12, Barry was running approximately 17 minutes later than he had intended. He was not meant to arrive until 13:30 but the bus service often operated at an average of 7 minutes later than shown on the timetable. This meant that he would arrive at 13:19. This was an issue purely due to the fact the walk to the office would take 8 minutes at a leisurely stroll. That left him 3 minutes before the meeting was meant to start. He required a 5-minute minimum, the reason for this was due to it being the optimum amount of time to prepare oneself mentally and organise his notes. Naturally they were already colour coded and ordered alphabetically.

However now life had become a myriad of distress. His meticulously schedule had become pointless due to the unexpected explosion of his jack Russell’s bowels in the living room. Barry made a note to incorporate such unexpected fiascoes in future contingency plans.

Upon recalculating he worked out he could still maintain his 5 minutes early arrival to the office if his strolling pace was 1MPH faster than usual. While disconcerting he smiled to himself. Another simple problem solved, all of life could be condensed into statistics and or algorithms. For example, this morning he had perfected his egg frying process to have the perfect consistency and texture after having analysed the usual cooking times suggested by online chefs over recent weeks.

 

She answered the phone and gave her name. She said she did not take cold calls and that she regarded them as an invasion of privacy. She added that she was especially not interested in double-glazing.

“Hello, Pamela Banks clarity consultations how may I help?” Pam picked up the phone and the smile on her face quickly dissolved into a furrowed brow and an audible sigh. “No my dear I really don’t have time for you right now” she tried explaining to the owner of the thick Indian accent on the other end of the line. “I don’t much care if it’ll only take a minute.” Pam’s speech was beginning to get sterner now. “Listen,” the venom in her head no longer hidden by her voice “I do not take cold calls and to be honest they are a totally invasion of privacy. I would have given you my usual 30 second response and hung up. But no, someone doesn’t want me to get a word in edge ways do they? Someone thinks they’re so God damn important that they think they can’t let me tell them to politely go and stick they’re sodding double-glazing up they’re ass. Do I make myself quite clear?” After the Pompeii level explosion had cleared and the man on the other end had taken a few seconds to register what had occurred Pam then replied again after centring herself. “No, my dear, I’m definitely not interested in triple glazing and especially not in double glazing. Now please let those of us with real jobs get back to them. Good day.” It was at this point her beloved husband walked into the room laughing in a perfect recreation of the man’s voice “so that’s a no on the double glazing then?” shaking his mobile at her.

“Len you are such a prat sometimes” Pam smiled to herself. He was an idiot but he was her idiot.

Fear theme

Drip. Drip. Drip. It’s the idea of that sound, more so than the thing itself. The thought of it spilling out into a pool. Creeping down my arm, or my leg or God forbid my neck.

The red wine that flows through my veins becoming displaced to the opposite of its intended home.

The colour red has never been an inviting colour, why else would they say the Royals have blue blood? Everything must be pleasing aesthetically for royals, including what’s inside.

Pain isn’t something I’ve ever had any quarrel with, as it is not, in itself, something that is visually repulsive. There is a reason vampires drink blood, it’s purely because they are meant to represent all that is repulsive and the saying you are what you eat exists clearly for this very metaphor. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Dripping to the same tempo as a heart rate monitor in a hospital. A morbid irony. I see it in my mind, an expanse of crimson; a sea of disgust. It makes me want to be sick, but I’m not much fonder of vomit than I am of blood.

The first time I went for a blood test. I remember the feeling of nausea in the waiting room. This transitioned into breathlessness once I was seated in front of the nurse. Which quickly evolved, the way worry does, into a full on panic attack. I was assured everything was fine and calmed the motherly tone and nature of the nurse. She however was not aware that a minute from that point she would fail to find the vein she needed. She was also not aware that it would take her 4 attempts to find said vein, by which point I’d already been mercilessly stabbed 3 times by her needle. Finally, she was also not aware, (and neither was I) that the process was going to go horrifically wrong resulting in my personal red paint redecorating the room. Drip. Drip. Drip.

My hands begin to shake, it’s starting. The headaches are getting worse. I have to go in. There’s always the possibility of a drip. It’s why I said I’d go clean. It’s never been the most pristine place but then when has a drug den ever been.  I can almost hear it, the dripping.

I can feel the craving. I need it. But drip. Drip. Drip. Of someone who’s gotten in a fight, of someone whose made him mad. Of someone who hasn’t paid up. What happens if one day I’m the one who’s making the drip? Drip. DRIP.

Evaluation of own work in reference to professional examples

In regards to my work this week I have acted on the aims I set myself last week with regards to experimenting with point of view. Rather than writing from the first person perspective I, instead, chose to use third person from the perspective of a specific character. This allowed me to show characterisation and the thought process of the character without limiting the description of the surrounding by their perspective. I found this a very effective method in terms of the writing done this week in class.

In regards to my writing I received favourable feedback in regards to my writing voice and tone; in that I have a distinct writing style and my tone appropriates a recognisable voice. I feel that this is due to my recent reading of both George Orwell and John Green.

With regards to the writing style used for the show not tell exercise about the character Barry, I tried to emulate the writing style of John Green’s book ‘An Abundance of Katherines’. I felt that this character was quite similar in thought process as Green’s character in his novel and therefore attempted to emulate this. I am very pleased with the result and attempted to show intelligence through his very calculated and methodical thinking. While this may not neccessarily indicate intelligence as far as knowledge it does hint at a sense of problem solving and the use of a mathamatical thought process denotes logic which is highly regarded as an intellectual trait. I really felt an attachment to this character despite the short ammount of writing time allocated to this piece. I felt much more like the story was telling itself rather than it being a very formulaic and adhereing to literary clichés, (that I have been dependant on in the past) at the cost of fluidity. This I feel has been due to the skills practiced last week in regards to free writing and charactisation. I feel like I am creating a fully three dimentional character with a life and future rather than a simple piece of text in which my character fulfills a stereotype.

With regards to the piece based on a real life researched piece of writing, I feel this was successful. A real sense of theme came out in this piece, of displacement and trying to gain acceptance. I found the story fascinating to research due to it being such an anomaly for a news story to be something so positive. While I did take quite a few liberties in regards to characterisation (due to lack of credible information and sources), I feel like it is a well structured narrative recreating the story. In a way I was influenced by Ernest Hemmingway’s piece of writing for the Toronto Star in 1922 regarding a shooting. While it does not closely adhere to the journalistic elements clearly denoted in the Hemmingway piece I feel like it could easily be adapted to read as such. During next week I would very much like to write a more journalistically focused piece in the style of Hemmingway coupling the literary techniques taught through the creative writing skill development with those learnt last year regarding journalistic technique. This style of writing is almost like a feature piece in nature which is something that is heavily prevailent in the gaming journalism industry; therefore learning to emulate this style would be very beneficial to my future intended career in this field.

With regards to the theme of fear writing piece I found this once difficult. It is something that I generally try and avoid in my writing and therefore found this challenging. Through the use of methaphor and extended methaphor I found it realitively easy to set a nervous tone such as through the use of wine as a visual representation. I tried to build up a visual image of blood before using the word itself. I wanted that build up so as to show the reader that this was more than just blood to character, the blood embodied his fear. In this sense the entire piece is one large methaphor, he has a fear of blood in as much as he has a fear of the drug den and his fear of blood is linked to this. I felt this was a good addition to the piece as it was not originally intended to have this aspect. The suggestion rounded out the piece with coupling the motivation of addiction and the preventive nature of fear. The two are almost a oxymoron when used in conjunction, creating this kind of paradox. He is too scared to enter the drug den due to fear of it, but he has to in order to get his fix and by going in he continues this circle. As a exploration of theme I love the idea, however I feel like this could have been implemented better. While I wanted to show fear through a first person perspective I feel the show don’t tell nature of the piece would of a suited a third person style better and this would have allowed for a more appropriate tone to show the fear of the character. I also feel that word choice could have been improved in places, the character I had in mind would likely not have been as descriptive or intellectual as I have them written and this is why the third person could have given this character a better opportunity to be explored in a more realistic sense. I also feel looking back I could have altered sentence structure as the piece went on to create a sense of panic; starting off with long drawn out complex sentences and ending with shorter sharper sentences as he begins to go into shock about his current situation as the choice of what to do begins to affect his mental state.

Bibliography

Green, J, (2006). Extract: Abundance Of Katherines, An. [online] Puffin Books Australia. Available at: http://www.puffin.com.au/products/9780141346090/abundance-katherines/340684/extract [Accessed 2 Oct. 2016].

Hemingway , E.H, 1921. Gunmen’s Wild Political War in Chicago . Organized Crime , [Online]. Available at: http://ehto.thestar.com/marks/gunmens-wild-political-war-in-chicago [Accessed 2nd October 2016].

Week 2: Skills

Week 1: Skills

Skills used this week

This predominantly focused on skills relating to creative writing. These are vital skills to be used in any literary industry. While these skills in particular are not focused entirely towards journalism they can equally be applied to improve one’s writing.

The skills covered this week revolved around a focus of character and setting. These were worked on through both a look into professional examples (as seen below) and free flow writing exercises.

Firstly the skills revolving around creating a central character. We touched on this the previous week while analysing a front cover of The Daily Mail, which included a picture of 3 young women who had died in car accidents due to the use of mobile phones. We discussed how even in the non fiction setting of an article how crucial it is to include a central character to which the reader can identify with to supply a human element to the story.

Following on from this we did a creative writing exercise around specific prompts. We were to respond to a series of questions and through which we would create a character. We were instructed to write the first answer that came into our heads. Through this method I was able to easily construct a narrative around this character due to the process being so natural. We were then told to write it in whichever medium we saw was most fitting for the character. I wrote mine as a first person piece of writing from the character’s perspective. The reasoning behind this is due to the character resembling a friend of mine through my answering of the questions. As I have known this friend for a long time and have read a lot of his writing over the years, I felt it would be a good exercise to try and replicate his writing style.

We then did another similar exercise based around setting. However with setting I found myself more challenged. This was due to my setting being in space; therefore I had to be more creative with my answers to the questions as simply answering ‘no’ was too simple. This, again, ended up creating a more natural narrative. Again I chose to them write out my piece through the use of a character, to show the setting in their eyes rather than use descriptive third person rhetoric. I again felt this implemented the skill of showing not telling very well. I felt that showing a setting through use of character meant I could portray certain aspects that otherwise wouldn’t be possible such as the atmosphere and how the setting made the character feel emotionally. This way it gives the setting a more three dimensional feel and gives the audience more to interact with in their imagination as they read.

Finally we completed a piece of free writing. This consists of being given a sentence prompt and then writing continuously for 5 minutes as a stream of consciousness and seeing how this impacts the writing. I found this skill is very effective at getting ideas to paper and helps very effectively with writers block. This could equally be applied to journalism where you write out the article shortly in 5 minutes and pick out what is relevant from the writing and see what narrative has formed around it.

Professional example

Raymond Chandler – I’ll be waiting (Chandler, 1939)

Extract from ‘Slaves of the Mastery’

‘On a clear day the island can be seen from the mainland, the long ridge of its tree-ringed hill breaking the horizon to the south. Fishing fleets sometimes pass its rocky shores, and the fisherman stare at the dark outline of the great ruin that tops the hill, but they don’t stop. The island has nothing for them. Little grows on its bare sides, only tufts of dusty grass, and the circle of ancient olive trees round the roofless hall. Also there are stories about the island, of wizards who can summon storms, of talking animals, of men who can fly. Such matters are best left alone.

 The island is called Sirene. Long ago a band of travelers settled here, and built the high stone walls on the top of the hill, and planted the olive trees for shade. The building has no floor, other than the grass and rock that was there before. It has no roof, its tall windows have no glass, its wide doorways no doors. But it’s not a ruin: this is how the people who built it meant it to be. No timbers to rot, no tiles to slip and fall. No glass to break and no doors to close. Just a long, light space swept by wind and rain, a house that is not a house, a place to meet and sing then leave again.

 Now after many years the sound of footsteps is heard again on Sirene. A woman is following the long rising path from the shore. No boat lies moored in the cove, and yet she is here. She wears a plain faded woolen robe, and is barefoot. Her grey hair is cut short. Her face is weathered, lined, brown. How old is she? Impossible to say. She has the face of a grandmother, but the clear eyes and agile body of a young woman. She barely pauses for breath as she makes her way up the hillside.’

Own examples of skills being used

Character:

It’s 4:56 am, all I can hear is the buzzing of the hospital lights in the hallway and the loud drone of the rain continuously pounding on the roof, with the occasional interruption by thunder. You know, thunder can be an asshole like that, always wants to be the centre of attention. Even though it should be the lightning’s (quite literal) time to shine, it has to butt in a few seconds later and steal the spotlight.

The hospital I’m surrounded by is clean; its dull. The room is white with a machine next to me which does who knows (and honestly who cares).

But the ceiling, the ceiling is way more interesting. It’s nowhere near as clean. It’s not a blank emotionless space, there are flecks of dirt here and there; it’s obvious the ceiling went by unnoticed by the cleaners (it has quite literally gone over their head). There’s what appears to be a coffee stain in the leftmost corner. I think about the story of that stain, how’d it get there? Is that actually coffee? If it is who did the coffee belong to and how did they take their coffee? Did they have milk or not? You know, the important questions.

Fuck I’m bored, how am I supposed to sleep here. This isn’t nearly enough of a tip to feel like home. The thunder butts in again, “alright we get it, you self-obsessive, displacement of atmosphere” I mutter to myself.

I roll over to my side. I stare out of the window, or I would if there was one. Stupid tiny cubicle. Instead I stare at the blank wall and imagine a window. I see the blackness of the winter morning. I see the tree being smacked about by the wind. I see the same tree drowning under the storm. I think about myself drowning; holding my breath. I float there and close my eyes. The water surrounding me. I open my lungs and let the water in. It’s strange, the water as it enters me makes me feel warm.

And just like that I’m lucid dreaming. Sick. The next thing I do is turn the water around me to lava. I swim in it for a bit before surfacing and creating myself a boat out of my consciousness. I clamber aboard and sail this lava sea until I decide to happen upon an island. The world swirls around me as it forms while I walk it. Creating whatever I see fit before me.

But before long, I start to lose control of the lucidity of my dream. My subconscious begins to wrestle control back for itself. And then as quickly as ever I fall into the nightmare.

“John, we need to talk” I’m told by the large awkward figure in front of me.

“Oh just piss off I was enjoying this dream” I reply.

“That’s no way to talk to your father”

“No, that’s no way to talk to someone I respect, however you don’t have to worry about that.”

Dream dad looks hurt. I feel guilty, this version of my father isn’t the problem; it’s the physical one.

“Look I get you mean well, but I just really need to be alone right now.”

“You always need to be alone”

“Yeah well I’m tired”

“You’re always tired”

I stop feeling guilty and punch him in the face. As my fist connects he disintegrates into black smoke.

I open my eyes. I look at my wrist questioningly, 5:27am is my watches reply. “I did a lot for 31 minutes” I mutter to myself just as the thunder makes another loud remark. I return to staring at the ceiling and contemplating the mysterious coffee stain, I continue this until my father arrives in the morning to take me home.

Setting:

The first thing I noticed about space was the fact it’s big. Really really big. As far as I could see in every direction there was just black. A continuous empty sea of space, populated by grains of white stars.

I glanced from the window to look around my more immediate surroundings. I am thrown from the quiet blanket of darkness to the busy everyday commotion of the space station. Nothing about my surroundings was natural; it was all made with blood, sweat, and I imagine a metric shit tonne of metal.

It was very much like the old space stations from long past sci-fi movies, except the cast in this particular motion picture were significantly less attractive. The centre of the space station in which I was situated was a flurry of a lab coats trolleys being pushed around containing various scientific do dads.

The clinical smell and lab coats were almost reminiscent of a hospital; where everyone rushing around often with clip boards all with somewhere else they needed to be. There was no real moment to breathe. It was an atmosphere of controlled calamity where every second had been meticulously calculated by a bunch of nerds to ensure no time was wasted.

It was as if no one actually seemed to spend any time in the labs that situated the halls they were all rushing off down. Of course the odd explosion gave away that people did more than just commute.

The thing with scientists is that they never seem to have time for emotion. Everything was very efficient but in a robotic way. No one spoke except for a quick exchange of numbers and scientific words I didn’t really understand.

It made sense why they like this. If you spent your entire life working your butt off to finally realise your dream of working on the Calico Space Station you weren’t going to blow it when you got here. And with the government just looking for an excuse to cut people’s funding it was the only logical thing to was to replace emotion with numbers and theorems. Although at that point where you replace the emotions that drove you to get here in the first place, what was the point in staying if you no longer had that drive. It was a paradox of scientific reasoning.

Free writing:

I feel very strongly about gaming. Games are something that have been a part of my life since I was a child. From the age of 6 when I got my first games console, games have become an integral part of my day to day life. From hardcore competitive gaming with friends to the casual mobile gaming on the bus ride to and from Canterbury without games I would not be who I am.

Influencing almost every aspect of who I am from my personality, sense of humour all the way down to small pieces of my idiolect. Terms such as LOL, ‘get wrecked’ and ‘scrub’ are all words and phrases I have picked up from gaming. I have had conversations with friends in which the  entirety of the conversation was based around buzz words other people around us did not understand. I feel like this is something that can really bring people together.

For example look at Pokemon Go, the release of that game prompted so many people to leave the house and interact with people they never would of met before. It’s even got 2 dating applications linked to it now.

From the music to the story telling every aspect of a well made game blend together perfectly to make an experience that no other medium can replicate. The genres are almost endless with continuous mixes of theme and implementation from the mechanics to the art style. Each game is it’s own small confined experience and it’s through this that I can experience realms of thought never opened to me through other such mediums.

Evaluation of own work in reference to professional examples

The stylistic choices I made through this emulate my friend’s writing style, such as the continual internal monologue written in the present tense as he sees and interacts with objects in the room. This also extends to the methodology of showing not telling. I found it much more natural to tell the story through his reactions to things and have the reader piece together parts of his personality and leave them wanting answers rather than simply dictating it to them. I feel like this is was a good piece of writing however can be improved upon. While my writing style is quite different in the character piece when compared with ‘I’ll be waiting’ I think there are a lot of elements I could apply in future writing. Such as Chandler’s use of metaphor such as “In the corners were memories like cobwebs” (Chandler, 1939) is a very emotive piece of writing. I feel I could apply these in a way to improve my writing as my narrative tends to shy away from emotion due to a more stone faced character and light humour. I tend to give character to inanimate objects, or in the case above, things such as the weather. While I feel this is an interesting technique I feel I may be slightly overly dependent on it and the occasional use of metaphor in it’s place would balance out my writing.Also the third person style of writing Chandler uses is something that I feel would work equally well for my style of writing, I intend in future to try this style for perhaps the same piece of writing and see how this varies the piece. I think the third person style of stating what the character is thinking through such writing as ‘That red-haired girl was spoiling his nights’ (Chandler, 1939) does a similar job of showing not telling as it would through first person and is something I intend to use in future forms of writing.

My setting piece is something I think works well. The character can help create a more three dimensional plane for which the reader can interact with. This is based around the ability to show emotion through thought or the senses and how that character feels in that place. However as Chandler has shown it is possible to still impart this in the third person and as such I feel maybe this piece could have benefited from being written in the third person. I feel near the end of the piece I began to lose my way and this shows in the writing coming across in a much less fluid manner. The writing slowly became more about the people inhabiting the setting rather than the setting itself, while I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing I feel like the setting itself should have been given more attention before this transition. Slaves of the Mastery use almost a story telling method to build up the history of the setting and make it feel very real. The writer tries to make you interested in the place its set before the story even unfolds. I find that this could have been applied in my space setting building up the story of the space station rather than jumping straight into what was currently going on. This would of likely made the setting less jarring and given the reader more time to build up a basic image in their head before filling out the rest of the detail.

The theme I was trying to portray in both pieces was this feeling of being lost. I feel I have done this well by portraying the character in the setting piece as an outsider who does not necessarily belong, a calm observer in a busy non stop environment. This goes again for the character of the first piece who I tried to show conflict through his lucid dreaming and the issues with his father, only to be reliant on him to pick him up from the hospital in the morning. This sense of being lost is more in the sense of not understanding what he’s doing and feeling lost in terms of not having the closeness he would like from his father. I feel like these themes have been written into the pieces well without them being forced on the reader. I feel like the reader can emphasis with the character’s and that the settings also reflect this feeling of being lost (a hospital being imagery for possible grief and loss in a different sense and space as a large empty expanse of which we do not know much about).

My writing I would say have been heavily influenced by the writing style of John Green whose book “The Fault in Our Stars” was the last book I have read. I am currently reading another of his books “An abundance of Katherines” and have found my writing style has begun to emulate his within my first person narrative. This is based around a mixture of a series of descriptions that are quite descriptive (almost emulating George Orwell’s style) while still appearing as a stream of consciousness. This is a style I am very fond of in terms of reading as I prefer to see descriptions through the eyes of a character in the first person than a description in the third person. I feel like having recently read George Orwell’s essay “Why I write” coupled with my recent reading of John Green’s works have heavily influenced my recent writing style, especially in those included above.

Bibliography

Chandler, R. (1939). I’ll be waiting.

Nicholson, W. (2001). Slaves of the Mastery. Independent Publishers Group, 352.

Week 1: Skills