Writing Rule #1: NEVER Write About Yourself.

So my tutor told me today that you shouldn’t write about yourself too often. Which is fine, but don’t forget that no-one but you can feel the details and subtleties of your emotions like you can. I think you should use these experiences to provide context, gravity and passion into whatever you’re writing. 

Hey Guys,

So in one of my writing lectures today my tutor made the point that we as writers often think that we are also interesting to read about. I think that actually, he is very right to say this because I have fallen into this trap many times. But I think he missed a trick when presenting today; he said nothing about how your own experiences can shape the work you make and how (in my opinion) by transplanting your own emotions into your creative writing, you can create a more emotionally strong and convincing piece than you could of otherwise.

Imagination is a virtue of creative writers. Without this creativity we would not be able to sail to the dark recesses of space, fight dragons with a sword or even, find out what happened to Harry potter in year 9. However, one thing imagination cannot convey convincingly is emotion; to write about a feeling you have not felt would not only be truly challenging but perhaps, also insulting to those who have felt it. There are two easy way to combat this then: Do your research. Like I touched on before, people think that they are the most interesting people ever. This means that if you can get them to open up about something they really care about, they will talk well, and touch upon the details you may missed from a distance. And secondly: Transcript how you have felt about any strong emotion, ever. Most of us have been lucky to avoid the drama of fiction and literature; sure, maybe bad things have happened to us but perhaps we have never been so thoroughly cheated as the protagonist in your favourite novel. I think what we should do in these instances, is to relate our own feelings into the situation and transplant the unique subtitles and features that you may have felt at some point into your writing work. You may even have to ham it up a bit, and that’s fine. But your work is going to be all the more credible if you write honestly and from the heart. That may sound cheesy, but there’s a reason some things are cliché, because often, they are the best way to capture a well made point.

I’m no master writer, I’m a wannabe and I admit that. But what I’m trying to say is don’t omit your own feelings in writing because you want to create a world away from your own. It’s the same idea I touched upon in Writing and it’s Relationship with Music; there are so many sources we can take emotional influence from and for me music is one of the richest resources of all. Personally, I’d love to capture the emotion I hear in music and recreate it on the page. So try and find a source from which you take the most influence, be it music, people or yourself.

Take it easy,

Matt :)

Setting Up Your WordPress Blog :: The Essentials in Less Than an Hour.

Starting a WordPress blog? Read this and have your website up to par in less than an hour.

Also, this tutorial assume you already know how to make posts, pages and categories. If you don’t know how to do these things, look them up first. Here are two good places to start:

http://codex.wordpress.org/Pages

http://codex.wordpress.org/Manage_Categories_SubPanel

Hey Guys,

So recently I helped my friend out by recommending way she could tighten up her blog a bit. I thought that actually these points could help anyone starting a WordPress blog; these tips are for anyone starting to blog and who wants to start out with a base level of quality. These are very easy steps and I have images to guide you through, if you found this post helpful PLEASE show it your friends.

Hyperlink EVERYTHING

Hyper-Linking is really important because not only are you helping your readers out by saving them work, but your also sourcing content and potentially gaining referrals (when a website sees you have linked to them, and therefor link back to you).

In the image below, I have selected the only tools I use from the visual editor on the New Post screen of WordPress (the visual editor is by far easier to use for people starting out, don’t worry about the HTML one).

Click Image For Full Size

These are the only button I use, and all I think the basic blogger really needs; I won’t explain them all in detail because most of you will be familiar to most office-type document programs (For many of you this means Microsoft Word). However the WordPress interface makes it easier to hyper-link than you may be used to.

See below step-by-step instructions on hyper-linking (Image will probably have to be viewed full size as it’s very long, sorry!).

Click Image For Full Size

1) Click the icon that looks like a chain.

2) The hyper-link box appears, leave it for now.

3) Go to your desired website, select the address and click ‘copy’.

4) Right-click in the address bar and select paste (Make sure there is only one ‘http’)

5) After link is pasted just click ‘Add Link’ it’s that easy!

6) You will know your word has been linked to something if it turns purple and is under-lined (The text will also become a different colour on your blog, this depends on your blog theme).

So that’s all there is to hyper-linking; it’s quick, easy and very useful! Use it for ANYTHING that links to another web-page. It doesn’t even have to be the address itself, it can also be a single word. It is often popular to link to web-pages in these two styles:

Visit Matt Knight’s web-site.

Check out Matt Knight by clicking here.

Have A Contact Form

The internet moves fast, we don’t want to be wasting time copying email addresses and then pasting them and then… Jeez, I’m bored already!

Contact forms make it easier for your readers to contact you directly, plus it means that you don’t have to give out your email address to any potential deviants (NOTE: WordPress does not promote deviancy!).

WordPress actually offers a very comprehensive tutorial on adding contact forms, I promise that all it essentially takes is two clicks.

I just wanted to include this as a note, because it’s very tempting to just post your email address and leave it, but I promise this is a lot better way to promote contact with your readers, plus, it just plain looks better.

Read the tutorial here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact-form/

Have An About Page

You’ve heard of friendly faces right? Well you’ve probably never heard of friendly names, that’s because putting a face to a name creates another dimension to your blog, it grants it humanity.

An About page does not have to be labored over, going over each detail until it’s perfect. It needs to be short and to the point; people aren’t going to try and trip you up, usually they just want to know a little about the person who’s website they are visiting.

Below I’ve mocked up my ideal About page, there of course are a lot of variations on what you can do, but I feel these are the detail that MUST be included-add any personal flair after you’ve administered these steps.

Click Image For Full Size

The picture says it all really, but here’s a few more details.

i) The school/ organisation area is a place to ground yourself in reality, there’s no need for any real detail here.

ii) In the picture of yourself, make sure it’s you and only you. People don’t want to be trying to work out who you are from a group photo and make sure you are smiling! (If you don’t have picture of yourself anywhere else on the blog, this is a really important addition).

iii) When you add some personality to the page, keep it concise and relevant; if you blog about films say what you love about them and perhaps mention your favorites but don’t talk about directors or effects you like-this about you, not about your subject. This applies to any subject: art, culture, gaming… anything. Talk about why you’re invested in your subject area and leave it at that.

iv) ONLY list skills that employers will recognize; there is no need for school grades here. Mention things that will make people respect your opinion. The majority of you probably won’t have these (I know I don’t!) in which case just try and win over your audience with this space; just be nice.

v) You may think you’re the most original person in the world, but you’re probably not. Have a look at other blogs before adding something you think is funny and original. This isn’t a set rule, but it’s often nice to stand out if possible. For my blog I added a list of things you shouldn’t know about me, it’s a dig at myself and I hope it reflects good humour! I’m sure though you can think of much better ways to promote yourself, so experiment and be creative!

Have A Homepage Tab

By default WordPress gives you this; so don’t be stupid like I was and delete it, because you can’t get it back! However if you do, you can apply my very (un-elegant) solution. It’s straight out of the idiots guide to blogging, but it does the trick. Simply create a Category called ‘Home’, add it to your menu and and then tag EVERY post in this category. If you have a lot of posts already, just give up on them (apart from your 5 most recent) they are just lost to cyber-space, move on. As long as you remember to click this category before you publish no-one will ever know!

So, that’s it. I hope this post helped you and if the clock ran over one hour I’m sorry, but there are no refunds. If you have any questions just leave a comment on this post or of course you can message me via my contact form.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

Don’t Make Any Resolutions!

Now before you run off to McDonald’s, eat 100 hamburgers and buy a plane, please let me make it clear that in most cases it is best and I urge you to, keep to your resolutions. However I do just want to raise a point about how we as the public use the new year as a key time to change.

First things first: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I hope that each and every one of you had a lovely new years evening and a great new years day too. In fact some of you may have had such a good time you were only just peeling yourselves off the floor the other day; but that’s ok. That means that, like me, you may also have not made any new years resolutions yet, in which case STOP. Now, of course if there is something that you have only just realised about yourself or something has happened to you only this week that you insist upon changing the circumstances of, be my guest. I’m not saying don’t change or improve yourself, but equally don’t do it for the sake of it.

I’ll use myself as the example; I’d like to think that I am a generally well-rounded guy, I keep fit, do my work and don’t O.D on nights out. And whilst of course I would never suggest I’m anywhere near perfect, last year I was at a loss as what to do for a new years revolution. So after some thinking I decided that I would not drink alcohol (link takes you to stopdrinkingadvice.org) for 3 months, and unsurprisingly it wasn’t some ‘life changing experience’ and I saw nothing through a ‘new perspective’, in fact all I wanted for 2 months was a pint!

Now you may have noticed ‘2 months’ there, but I do have a reason for breaking my new years resolution; you see, as someone who was never a big drinker to begin with I didn’t need to deny myself a simple pleasure in life, and I’m seeing people make similar mistakes this year. I’m hearing of fit people wanting to get fit, of clever people who want to get better grades and so on; the problem with these resolutions is that we tailor them to something we can achieve. And yeah, that’s great and all but at the end of the day people like us don’t really need to make these kind of resolutions. (Plus did you know that most new years resolutions don’t stick past Febuary?)

I’ll give you another example, myself in the spotlight again. I said to myself at the start of this year ‘Matt, this year is the year you become organised’ and then I thought, wait a minute, that’s ridiculous! I may well prove to never be properly organised in my entire life and that’s the sad truth. I muddle through things most of the time untill the job is done, that’s just who I am-so instead I looked at my resolution more objectively. I though ‘Why do I want to be more organised?’ then I thought ahead to this year, well I have to get a  work placement, pass my exams and do well on my course. Right, well there are three simple tasks that should be simple to achieve: revise=pass exams, apply around and everywhere=get a work placement and if I work hard, that should=a good grade for the year. And hopefully you guys can do this yourself too, don’t blanket your wants for the year under one resolution, instead become objective and focus on the things you really want.

(Click here for the most common New Year’s resolutions)

If you want a sports car, save up enough money by creating a separate savings account and in the meantime make sure you’ve viewed and research every car properly and if you want to go on holiday, book the time off now a clear your schedule for that date. You may think I’m over simplifying things here but I’m really not. So my new years resolutions are these:

  • Pass my exams
  • Get a good work placement
  • Do well on my course

I can achieve all these things as long as I remain objective and stay on course, and hopefully I will let you know in the future whether I actually achieved these goals or not. I sincerely hope you can all do the same this year but there is one last piece of advice:

Don’t forget to let your hair down every once in a while ;)

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your resolutions too!

Peace,

Matt  :)

Tutorials Seen in my Showreel.

“We Can’t help Everyone, but Everyone can Help Someone.”

– Ronald Reagan

Hey Guys,

As this site has just launched and chances are no one is even reading what I am writing I suppose this is kind of pointless, however I will continue anyway. Anyone that has used this site will hopefully of checked out my showreel and hopefully enjoyed it too. However I fully confess to be a complete amateur design artist and I cannot take full credit for all of the work presented. Whilst all content was generated by me, several clips were based very closley off of tutorials with only minor changes. I will credit all tutorials in this post and if anyone decides to follow them, leave a comment with a link to what you came out with.

The first clip in the showreel is a title I made for a montage trailer (Back when I was still editing gaming videos), the title looks sweet but it is more of less just a copy of the tutorial for realistic fog on aetuts.com. You can watch Sachin man Joshi’s amazing tutorial on realistic fog effects here.

The next tutorial I would like to credit is videocopilots ‘animating a still’ lesson; the effects they present in this video help bring life to any still image and whilst I didn’t use all the effects demonstrated it was massive influence on my ‘Pakistan is Drowning’ project (repeated several times int he showreel). You can watch Andrew Kramers amazing tutorial on animating a still here.

There is a shot towards the latter end of the video of a 3D audio spectrum evolving and changing changing colour, whilst I input the colour change to correspond with the pitch shift, the 3D spectrum itself was an incredibly technical peice of design work that took me many attempts to get functioning correctly. However as this tutorial is mainly based on expressions (a particular weakness of mine) I had to copy the expressions to the letter, the only creative input I had was the colour and camera work. You can watch Satya Mekas genius tutorial on 3D audio spectrums here.

Finally I would just like to acknowledge a more general tutorial; whilst colour grading is subjective the mood and feel of a particular shot/ photograph you still need to know which tools to use. I benifited greatly from watching a few colour grading tutorials and then experimenting but as an all round tool overview this tutorial will suit most needs. You can watch Hugo Tromps useful tutorial on colour grading here.
Please leave a comment linking to any tutorial based work you have made and let us know what you think of the tutorials listed above.

Peace,

Matt  :)