Week 1: skills (Greg)

For the first official week into the second year of the course, we have been mostly looking at specific writing skills which are going to aid us in our future work. This is whether we are writing an article, any other written feature or even scripts for documentaries and video pieces.

Descriptions of the skills being learned and used- (Unit 9 2.1/2.2)

First and foremost, we investigated character and setting within writing with the intention of creating a narrative for a short story based on each. This was done by doing an exercise (one for character, one for setting) which involved a series of questions be asked to us to answer. For instance ‘what are the is your setting fantasy, non-fiction or both?” or “what is your character’s best/worst memory?” We then used our answers to turn this into a sort story, monologue or article for each one.

My own example of how I used the skills- (Unit 9 2.1/2.2)

Here are both of my short stories for both the character and setting:

Character.

Putting the past behind us and moving forward is often easier said than done. Especially when your life will never be the same again. Many people believe that life in an isolated ranch, being a guitar enthusiast and privileged to have a boyfriend is a typical life for a 19-year-old girl. It’s anything but. Having lost my father as a kid and suffered the dire school career of being treated as ‘unintelligent’ it felt like my life was slowly deteriorating. However, the more I eliminated those unnecessary people from my life, the more independent I became myself. Even with living amongst my four older brothers and my mother. Although she was not only my mother but my best friend and my only shoulder to cry on.

The benefits of living in an empty ranch is that it’s almost your own island (or at least that’s what I call it). As a result, I recently did what any other mother would punish their teenage daughter for: slipped out the house at 2am in my pyjamas and gazed up at the stars until the crack of dawn. As ludicrous as it may seem to anyone else, I was discreetly watching my father up there in heaven. I’ve never told anyone about it and I have no recent plans whatsoever to do so. My mother saw me though. Like the true friend she is to me, she didn’t say a word. I could tell she understood that I had to do this.

Setting.

When it comes to any location consisting of a clifftop, many people tend to think no further than a sea view with the possible seaside town lurking below it. It can be so much more than that, however, and it actually is.

For this particular coastal cliff-top, many of the villagers describe its own little country; only around 12 houses cover the 2 miles of grass and a narrow concrete path. The immense scents of early morning bonfire accompanied by that salty sea breeze rushing through your hair never fails to have me either daydreaming or star-gazing with the faint sounds of the fishing boats coming back to shore. As much as the coast is part of my soul, I can’t think of anything worse than to be out in one of those oil-stained wooden boats that are all on their last legs. I couldn’t risk it!

Many of the locals here, as well as myself, define this stretch of the coast as pretty much bordered from the hustle and bustle of the town centre just two miles away. Wherever I stand I always have some view of the sea. Though sadly, I always fail to capture much more than townspeople rushing around from all directions. Their chatter can only just be heard above the fishing boats bells. I always find this environment overwhelming and somewhat artificial for it to be this hectic day after day.

Evaluation of my use of the skill with reference to professional example- (Unit 9 3.1/3.2)

For both exercises,  every answer contained some part of myself or my life/past because I felt that having some content to relate to would help me to engage with the piece and find a relationship with it. It also encouraged me to consider the language choices based on my experiences and even personal passions. However, one thing that I did struggle with was because these were short stories meant that I assigned myself to choose my answers which fitted most into my paragraph structures. I tended to find this strategy much easier for the setting story since they all focused on one ares whereas with the character piece there could many components to the piece which I found harder to lead on from one point to the next.

Description of the skill being learned and used- (Unit 9 2.1/2.2)

What we also did this week was look at a number of articles and short extracts which we then analysed and looked at the narrative behind them alongside the language choices and sentence structures of each. First of all, we looked at a poem called ‘Still I Rise’ which was discussing discrimination where we read it as a class and all gave our thoughts and opinions on them. Even though I found it rather fascinating to listen to everyone else’s view or even agree with them, we were also shown a video of the poet reading it herself. For me, this was a great way for me to see how much the feeling and emphasis could be applied to a piece of writing- especially with the writer with the experience herself reading it. Even tough the poet recited the poem with only a little emphasis, it had enough firmness in it to portray how much the topic meant to her and somewhat seriousness it had too.

This also applied to another piece of text we looked at called ‘Enter Shikari- system’. At first I made it out to be another descriptive poem purely because it was on paper and there were a number of characteristics on it that made me feel this way. For instance, the second paragraph is repeated exactly the same is the first and a lot of metaphors are present along with it being written in the first person. However, that all changed when we were shown a video for this piece and it was delivered as a song in more of a heavy rock tone. This gave me a whole new understanding of ways of portraying a piece of writing to, in some cases, deliver the meaning of the topic in an appropriate way using either a story, experience or even voice to promote emphasis. Regarding the journalism industry, this is a vital element to understand since everyone can have a varied opinion on pretty much everything, especially if it’s presented on paper or print. However, whether it’s a video report, song lyrics or radio report, audio and voice can change the tone of the story to suit the topic, sometimes with the audiences views.

Examples of the skills being used professionally- (Unit 9 1.1/1.2) 

Another example of this is when we looked at two short extracts (one from ‘All the Pretty Horses’ and another from ‘Slaves of the Mastery’) We read both as a class and I personally found the ‘All the Pretty Horses’ extract quite complicated to follow, mainly because of how the content is arranged: there is what I found to be a bit too much description on too many elements for the first few paragraphs, “The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door”. (McCarthy, C, 1992).

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(McCarthy, C, 1992)

This also reminded me of when we looked at  ‘Slaves of the Mastery’ as this focused entirely on the setting for the first paragraph, “On a clear day, the island can be seen from the mainland, a long ridge of its tree-ringed hill breaking the horizon to the south” (Nicholson, W, 2001)

office-lens-20160924-194816

(Nicholson, W, 2001)

Evaluation of the use of this skill with reference to professional example- (Unit 9 3.1/3.2)

I personally find it much easier if one factor is introduced first and then leads on to another. Here, the island was introduced first, leading on to some of the island’s history and then the character in the third paragraph. (Unit 9 1.1/2.1)- Due to the easy-to-understand content structure of ‘Slaves of the Mastery’ it  inspired me  to use this as part of my own setting story for two reasons: to aid me with finding a starting point with writing the setting but also because I want the reader to feel a sense of curiosity when reading the story and want to carry on reading the rest of it.

What looking at both of these different extracts and their structures indicated to me that the target audience for a short story, article or any written piece can really depend on the structure or paragraphs, descriptions and language used. Some people reading may like to gather every little detail at the beginning whereas some prefer to focus on having a set focus to build up on-which is what I liked about ‘Slaves of the Mastery’ because it set the setting first whilst still in the descriptive tone.

Overall, his week which actually gave me a a lot of food for thought regarding how to tell a narrative in a number of different formats. The reason being this was because I will be required to start coming up with ideas for future units and the Final Major Project during this year and this exercise will come in handy for me to think of unique ways to present my chosen topic. Also considering that a journalist in the industry has to cater to many different audiences with different needs so this will be great practice for getting to know different target audiences in the world.

 

Bibliography (Harvard references):

McCarthy, C. (1992) All the Pretty Horses. Unknown publication place: Alfred A. Knopf. 

McCarthy, C. (1992) All the Pretty Horses. Unknown publication place: Alfred A. Knopf. 

Nicholson, W. (2001) Slaves of the Mastery. Unknown publication place: Independent Publishers Group

Nicholson, W. (2001) Slaves of the Mastery. Unknown publication place: Independent Publishers Group

 

 

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Week 1: skills (Greg)

2 thoughts on “Week 1: skills (Greg)

  1. tomrowse says:

    From character study to structure: the characters need explore; obstacles; need fulfilled or denied. This is a basic structure that you could use to help direct the writing. Plus: the best thing that could happen and worst are the tow questions that determine the resolution and climax; it is good to know the ending of a story.

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  2. tomrowse says:

    I really enjoyed you creative writing from the character Q’s. It felt as if it would fit snuggly within young adult genre writing; a familiar and empathetic voice, with a new twist (your twist). Look at genre conventions when evaluating.

    coast as pretty much bordered from the hustle – is boarded the write word.

    However, one thing that I did struggle with was because these were short stories meant that I assigned myself to choose my answers which fitted most into my paragraph structures. I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS.

    Good, strong evaluation. Very honest writing that demonstrates a clear engagement in the sessions and an openness to the new skills. I enjoyed reading your reflections.

    Practise writing more succinctly throughout – you tend to over write at times. You can be just as analytical and informative with shorter, sharper sentences, picking the right words in the right order (sometimes easier once you have the words down in front of you and then editing).
    For example:
    Overall, his week which actually gave me a a lot of food for thought regarding how to tell a narrative in a number of different formats. The reason being this was because I will be required to start coming up with ideas for future units and the Final Major Project during this year and this exercise will come in handy for me to think of unique ways to present my chosen topic.

    Edited down to:
    Overall this week’s sessions have given me plenty to think about, especially with regards to narrative writing and its various forms. This will impact on my My Final Major Project (FMP) and my choices when presenting my topic (theme).

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