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 :)

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Don’t Be Creative, Be Passionate

Now, don’t take the title too literally but consider this. Don’t come up with ideas because they are different, nurture them because they matter.

Hey Guys,

I hope everyone is having a good Monday, I wanted to write a post today for people who work in creative fields. Followers of this blog will know I’m a student, and so perhaps speak with a certain sense of optimism, but I feel my point here today is applicable to anyone looking to develop any kind of creative work.

This idea came to me yesterday, when after spending the weekend working on a couple of separate projects, I ditched them. I realised that I didn’t really care about these ideas, and I was developing them as a priority above my other work because I thought they were pretty avant guarde. Except they weren’t, they were crap. One I will admit, just needs a lot more development if I’m ever even to consider picking it up again in the future, but the other one is my primary example for this post.

Flying horses. Nay. Flying Toy Horses. My idea was this: I picked up these plastic model horses about 6 months ago because I thought I could use them for a mini-project. What I eventually tried to do, was animate still images of them with the distortion pin tool on AAE; creating a super slo-mo sequence of them jumping off of stuff. I ran a couple of renders, still not 100% but prepared to keep an open mind. Yesterday I finished two test renders, they had immaculate masks and lighting effects so they look relatively believable. My animation was good too, the motion of the legs, head and neck being key to the movement of a horse. But then I watched them back, and yeah, technically they were ok, but I was hit with two thoughts. What does this mean? And Why am I doing this? 

I was doing it because no-one else had; I’d side-tracked projects that mean a lot to me because I was in a rush to stand out. That’s not how you create art, that’s how you create shite. I took a step back, saw what i was doing and abandoned the project. I’m now refocusing my efforts of two of my large projects. In particular, my dissertation project for my final year at university. It’s sometimes hard to work on because it reflects some personal memories and intimate relationships, but so far it’s coming out well and I have no doubt that when I finish it, it will be a triumph. The project is called ‘3 Hours’ and I will add a link here when I have finished rebuilding the promo page.

This post isn’t for self-promotion though, it’s a thought on how sometimes it is so tempting to try and stand out, we breach our own values of quality. Gimmicks aren’t respected and never deemed as classics. So take your time and create the fantastic, powerful work you’re capable of. Impress 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  :)

The Balloon

Hey Guys,

So I’m going to reveal another project I’m working on, as you might guess, it’s called ‘The Balloon’. 

So, the reason I didn’t include this project in my blog the other day is because, well, in truth I didn’t have it figured out yet. Now, I feel I do. The Balloon was initially a web-comic idea to follow up my mildly successful first outing into the field: Pancakes and Apples – Diary of a Boy at Sea (Please check it out!). However after a few drafts and working with the idea I just couldn’t get it to work; I felt the project could only work well if the visuals were up to what I imagined, and sadly my drawing is not up to what I see in my head. So I scrapped the project, but it stayed in my mind. Sadly, I don’t feel I can disclose fully what the story actually is, in case this project takes off in the way I hope it does; but I will say this: The Balloon is a story about optimism, and primarily, about looking up.

After a phone call with my (eternally wise) mother, we agreed that the story could work in a children’s book format; I know an illustrator through my part-time job and should I finish drafting the book, I will approach her and ask her to do the illustrations. Right now, I am two pages in and do not know entirely know many pages there will be in total; but it’s something I will continue with and aim to finish by the end of summer. I will keep you guys updated via this blog as I am always excited to start something new!

I’ve attached below two of my first (very rough) first drafts, I am not sure if I will submit them to the artist as they are very crude,  but equally they give away so little that I feel I can post them here without ruining the story!

Man, I’m making this sound like something out of Mission: Impossible!

 But anyway, that’s what I am up to at the moment, for more updates subscribe to this blog, or follow me on twitter.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

Draft Page 1

Draft Page 2

Good-bye Objectivity, Hello Me.

So, I started this blog to link people to awesome pieces of creative work online, be it videos, photography or whatever. But, I find that within a busy university schedule to tweet these things is much quicker than writing a summary of it. If anyone is reading this and still looking for that kind of content, perhaps you might want to follow me on twitter. If so, please check out my twitter profile.

But as I have just alluded to, I will be moving away from these kind of posts on this blog and instead aim to keeping anyone that is interested updated on my work; so here we go!

MY PROJECTS:

For anyone that visits my portfolio site you may be aware of some of my projects that I do and am interested in; but for those of you who haven’t seen yet, I will just quickly link you to a few things that are finished.

Pancakes and Apples (Diary of a Boy at Sea) 

So this is a short web-comic that has been doing the rounds online, I have been getting really positive feedback from my followers on twitter and would love to hear more from other people; there are no comments on the actual pages at the moment though and I’d love to get some hard-copy feedback!

Sense – Datum // Her Egg

So, I am a keen writer and I love trying to write short stories in between working on my larger projects (more below); here are two stories that I have finished that I have submitted to a short story contest and I would love to get some feedback if you guys have the time (Sense-Datum was a university assignment that I got a first for by the way! :D )

CURRENT PROJECTS:

So I am working on a couple of big things at the moment, but most significantly is my primary project: 3 Hours.

Whilst at the moment I am trying to keep this project a little secretive, I want to raise a bit of awareness and develop an enigma around this project. However I will be updating the preview page soon as I feel at the moment it is a little too elusive. For now I will say this; 3 Hours is a digital narrative experience, it’s going to change the way you can read a story by blending multiple writing styles seamlessly. Stay posted, it’s going to be good. For now, please check out the preview page.

For anyone that has stuck through this post, thanks a lot, it’s really nice to get support when I receive some. But don’t worry, my posts will not continue to be this self-indulgent and promoting! Instead I will just aim to keep you guys up to date with stuff I am doing and stuff I think you should check out too; hopefully this should lead to more consistent blog posts.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

Writing and it’s Relationship with Music

As a writer, should your primary source of influence always be from other examples of writing?

As an artist you should be able to admit, that music is amazing. It is a lot more self-contained than creative writing (poetry aside) and obviously film. The best thing about music is that it is a representation of emotion, even those dance songs you play on Saturday night. Personally, as someone trying to expand as a writer, I find myself skipping these Top 40 favorites and engaging significantly with classical music performances, movie soundtracks and acoustic soul-sapping encores. It is this music which I find inspires me, more so, in some cases than my favorite pieces of writing; this is an interesting thought, for if you want to write, you have to read right? Well what happens if you’re a writer who listens?

Needless to say, I’m listening to a medley of fantastic songs when writing this, bopping along at times or just pausing, mulling things over in my mind. My connection to music is probably as far from an ‘objective’ relationship as you can get. I care little for the persuit of new talent, I am literally of the disposition that if I hear something I connect with, I will buy it and listen to it endlessly. I mean, I have my fair share of rubbish on my iTunes, but when a song comes up that really makes you stop, that’s when I feel at my most imbalanced, stimulated and ready to write.

Of course, the problem with this approach is that it is incredibly subjective, not only in form but of course in content. Lyrics, melody and the countless other spectrum’s of musical refinement create such a variety of musical output that everyone is going to react a bit differently and in a lot of cases not at all. For instance, a lot of people I know will write with music playing in the background, I mean, I’m doing that right now, but it’s quiet and more or less lyric-less, this helps create an ambiance, a comfortable writing environment and yet this is still my limit. In truth I find music a distraction to objective writing, but the mood it envokes cloaks me thoroughly for a period of writing. It is this resonance that I feel when listening to music that I feel strengthens me as a writer.

I mean, is this a writing technique we should attempt to coin? Cinematic writing perhaps? Of course not, because if you want to convey something specific in tandem with music (and a stark visual image?) you might as well be a screen-write, right? Wrong. Personally whilst a huge fan of cinema, my connection to it is very similar to music, I don’t go to the cinema all the time but when I see something I enjoy, I will exhaust it until I feel I fully understand it and to some extent, can replicate it. Clearly then, I am someone who is forever buried in books right? Wrong again, because this article isn’t about defining myself as a writer, but defining writing as a process that is subjective to the individual. If I told you I loved watching films more than reading books and I wanted to be a writer, you’d scoff; at least I’d hope you would because I mean come on, that’s just stupid. However, if you can balance these mediums of storytelling (yes, music is a form of storytelling) maybe then you can create something original, maybe not.

Your primary influence in your language of writing will be your literary background, that I feel is somewhat unavoidable; however your writing style and written image can be highly influenced by the content you experience; which is where I draw my most significant distinction in this article. Because cinema and music are ‘experienced’, they help create mood, writing helps more to focus the skill of writing and paint this mood for others to understand. Maybe I’m wrong and I just haven’t read the right stuff, but I think if you want to create a detailed creative fiction, don’t just read books, do it all.

At the moment I am experimenting with non-linear narratives, stories that don’t always go in sequence (Like: 1, 2, 3) because I’m experimenting with form and I feel that by creating imbalance in the narrative timeline, you can create better enigmas and you, as the reader have to work harder to deconstruct the narrative. I read somewhere that the harder you work to understand something, the more you respect it, if I find out where that’s from I will credit it at the bottom of the article.

As for now, I feel I didn’t do too badly channeling my thoughts for a bit. Maybe I’m just one of these new-wave pretentious wannabe-different writers; I hope to god I’m not… but I’ve been wrong before. As for now I’m going to break away from my own introspective narrative and relax, because to drown in self-awareness would be a sorry way to go :)

If you liked this article please leave a comment below, thank you.

Pancakes and Apples: Diary of a Boy at Sea

Click here to read to read the comic

Hey Guys,

I wanted to let you know about a small project I’ve just finished called ‘Pancakes and Apples’. It’s a short web comic that I made because I have been reading a few lately and really wanted to give it a go. It’s a fairly serious story but I don’t want it to be perceived as something overly pessimistic (see the Story Synopsis). Instead I want this tale to be perceived optimistically; I do not want to give away the whole story, but I will just say this. The story ends on a deliberate note, and who knows how it could continue to play out.

Story Synopsis:

(Ideally read this after you’ve read the comic.)

P & A is set in a post-apocalyptic future, the world has broken down into ruin from some unspecified conflict; with the broken world behind him we see a boy sailing out to sea. He is sailing from what he believes to be the northern hemisphere of the planet, to the south. This is because in this reality the world is flat and it is only in rumors, that people have heard of a round planet earth.

All the dialog is a blend of diary entries and a stream of consciousness that blend in format to become more comprehensible for the reader. Though only a child, the dialog is imbalanced between his more immediate, immature thoughts and what he has been told by the man he bought his boat from. By merging a variety of attitudes, values and beliefs we are able to understand in more detail the world of the narrative, as it is parallel to our own.

Before the end of the comic the boy realises that the world is not as he had hoped, that perhaps he was duped? He was not cheated but shown a path that led him to ultimate enlightenment; that in a dying world the only path forward is that which transcends reality. So, in closing his eyes he accepts his destiny and sails forward, with a belief of something better in his heart.

Post-Reading Thoughts:

The story though short, is designed to suit it’s medium. There’s no point making a web comic if it’d turn out better as a book. I felt this medium was more suitable as we see the face and identify with the boy and the silence in some frames, echoes the silence he experiences when sailing.

I wanted the idea of a round world to appeal to a boy who only knew of a world full of limits, the man he perceives to be wise is not tricking him, he is just giving him one last hoorah, a present of optimism.

Ultimately we see the boy poised to sail off the edge of the world, eyes closed, ready to believe that anything could happen. And why not? A child who has faith only in what he most desires most is not misguided, he is at peace. The story is coloured bleakly to contrast the colour in the last frame (also hinted at with colour permeating some earlier frames).

This is not a sad story. This is an exercise in form, and story about how we are defined by faith.

Please let me know what you thought of the story either in the comment box on here, or ideally liking, tweeting and sharing the story with your friends.

Six Word Memoirs.

Click here to View My Memoir

Hey Guys,

I just wanted to let everyone know about a great little project called ‘Six Word Memoirs‘ hosted by SmithMag.net. It’s a great little idea where anyone to everyone can submit an extremley short story about their life in whatever way they want; whether you talk about a recent birthday, revelation or just a film you saw the other day; there really are no rules (So to speak). There’s not really too much to say about this project except that I urge you all to check it out and have a go; I’d really love to see other readers of this blog attempts so please leave a comment linking back to your story on this post if you do try it.

That’s all I have to say really guys; also if you havn’t checked it out yet-I have changed the menu system for my portfolio, linking everything together now with images as well as drop-down menus; please leave a comment letting me know what you think.

 

Peace,

Matt :)