Narrative Fiction Project Reflection

The narrative fiction project was unlike anything else I’ve ever done at this university. It was such a change of pace for me as a journalism major that it was, at times, uncomfortable but also an interesting feeling of freedom with what I was doing. I’m not used to that kind of freedom in what I’m writing on a day-to-day basis. It’s obviously important to get out of your comfort zone in life, but something like this is not what I expected to be doing in this class. I assumed “New Media Writing” would be a bit more of adapting the old school style of what I had been doing in a new way. So, all in all, it’s been a very fun surprise.

The readings and such helped a bit in the writing process, but nothing really earth shattering was contributed by them. There were probably things I subconsciously took from each one. Thinking back, there isn’t anything I was trying to copy or draw from that we looked at, though. Mostly I was drawing from the specific characters I used and just my personal history of readings and pop culture.

The easiest thing about the project was the actual writing. Which kind of sounds weird to think about if you approach it from the beginning, but it was helped greatly by the outline. The outline was, far and way, the hardest part about the project. But as soon as you had the table set it was simple as can be to do the rest. The outline was so difficult because I felt the need to establish this as something that was sort of believable, but at the same time had some sort of intrigue to it. The story itself doesn’t have all that many big plot points so it was a struggle to make sure people still would want to read it. It’s probably the main issue with most writers of fiction, but it’s a problem I’m not really used to.

The strengths of this style of writing can be utilized in different ways. If you’re doing it on Twitter or something over several months, you get constant interest and anticipation with each new bit of story. You can also do a lot of things with feedback from the audience that is much harder to do in traditional fiction writing. If you write a book and release it, it’s hard to get feedback for months because the publishing process takes so long. In this realm, you’re able to send out that story immediately and the comments just start rolling in. It’s pretty amazing and I think that can be a useful tool to use as it can help you steer the story where the audience seems to be the most interested.

I’m not sure if this project will seep into my other forms of writing. I really do enjoy fiction writing so it’ll undoubtedly be nice to get more experience with it. It’s the type of thing where, if I ever developed something I thought would fit really well into this arena, I’d pursue it, but it’s not something I plan on putting into my writing rotation. I do really appreciate that it’s a project I did, though.

The ebola project I did before this one certainly helped with structuring this project. It was nice to get a solid picture of what was expected before anything really started. Because if this project just would have been dropped in my lap two weeks ago, I would have struggled to complete it at the level I ended up at. There are little sections of my project that I thought were good ideas and there were some that I thought were too trope-y and bad. I’m fine with the final project, but I’m such a nitpicker that I could easily struggle over small details for weeks on end.

Story Outline for Personal Narrative Project

Sunday (1)

10 AM: ALEC wakes up. Depressed as he’s just gone through a break up the night before.

3 PM: ALEC keeps replaying the events that led to the break up over and over and over again.

3 AM: Unable to sleep, ALEC struggles to figure out what went wrong. He blames himself for it all.

Monday (2)

11 AM: ALEC calls in to work. Not wanting to break down in front of co-workers, he takes all of his vacation days.

2 PM: ALEC begins a movie marathon in an attempt to cheer himself up.

1 AM: ALEC falls asleep with dreams of those he sees in the movies and how he wishes life could be like that.

Tuesday (3)

9 AM: ALEC awakes to a loud phone conversation in the other room. Startled, as he lives alone, he exits his room to find PATRICK talking loudly about his tanning appointment and lunch reservations.

11 AM: After PATRICK leaves, ALEC hears an extremely annoying laugh from outside. He goes out to discover TYLER making a makeshift birdhouse in the garage.

8 PM: ALEC notices a blinking red light from outside while he’s finished up the dishes. He discovers it’s RICKY filming him because he finds ALEC interesting. They talk for a while about life.

Wednesday (4)

12 PM: Struggling to deal with his emotions, ALEC turns to PATRICK for advice. PATRICK insults him and asks him why it’s so hard to get laid. He suggests a new wardrobe, also.

3 PM: Brainstorming ideas for getting his ex back, ALEC is suddenly joined by TYLER. Who suggests a very chaotic romantic gesture that makes ALEC’s palms sweat.

7 PM: ALEC and RICKY discuss the intricacies of what made ALEC’s ex so amazing. It only makes him more forlorn.

Thursday (5)

9 AM: ALEC finds a note pinned to the door from his ex. She needs to come by to get her things soon.

1 PM: ALEC comes to the realization that it’s going to be a struggle to make rent now with only one income. He begins brainstorming money solutions with PATRICK and TYLER.

6 PM: Finding PATRICK and TYLER’s suggestions unobtainable or insane, ALEC decides to talk to RICKY about it. He suggests illegal means of income, which ALEC refutes. RICKY then suggests a side job, like catering.

Friday (6)

10 AM: ALEC goes out searching for opening jobs. He looks through the paper, internet, etc. He finds an open catering job.

2 PM: He interviews for the catering job and gets it.

7 PM: Told he will begin tomorrow, ALEC is more hopeful than he has been all week. He’s excited to get out of the house, especially.

Saturday (7)

4 AM: ALEC wakes up to loud music in the living room. PATRICK is standing next to the stereo, preaching about the works of the artist while TYLER jumps around frantically in something that only vaguely resembles dancing. RICKY stands in the corner, filming.

1 PM: ALEC is nervous to start the catering job. He usually struggles with new people. PATRICK tries to supply some advice on mingling, but ALEC thinks the advice would actually work against him in his endeavor to fit in.

7 PM: ALEC shows up at the catering job. He meets his co-workers, including a girl he thinks is cute. TYLER causes trouble throughout the night.

Sunday (8)

6 AM: ALEC wakes up throughout the night, struggles with thoughts of his ex.

1 PM: ALEC leaves the house so his ex can gather her things. He goes to a park and talks with RICKY on one of the lakeside benches about all of the things she did that made him feel worse about himself.

9 PM: Back at the catering job, ALEC struggles from not only TYLER causing trouble, but also PATRICK.

Monday (9)

8 AM: ALEC wakes up to screaming. PATRICK is furious at TYLER for stealing his imported money clip and PATRICK is already running late for an important meeting. PATRICK grabs a knife and starts chasing TYLER. TYLER seems unfazed.

4 PM: ALEC and RICKY sit down to watch a movie. ALEC just wants to see something that will make him happy.

10 PM: ALEC awakens from a nap to discover that TYLER has destroyed every single satellite dish in the area during the MLB playoffs. His home city is playing and the neighborhood is going nuts. PATRICK thinks it’s hilarious.

Tuesday (10)

12 PM: Thinking it’ll cheer him up, ALEC agrees to go to lunch with PATRICK. It does not go well.

3 PM: The catering job calls and asks ALEC if he’ll fill in tonight. He agrees.

11 PM: After much destruction is done at the job (mostly from TYLER), ALEC can’t take it anymore. TYLER keeps egging him on, but ALEC cannot fight back. RICKY steps in and takes care of TYLER.

Wednesday (11)

9 AM: ALEC wakes up feeling a bit better, but physically drained. He and RICKY watch the recorded tapes from the catering job. ALEC finds himself constantly drawn to the girl he likes.

3 PM: ALEC’s parents find out about the break up. They call to make sure he’s okay.

1 AM: ALEC wakes up groggily to PATRICK being noisey downstairs with a female companion. PATRICK is very rude to ALEC and his partner doesn’t even notice ALEC.

Thursday (12)

8 AM: ALEC notices a missed call from his ex last night. He calls back, only to be told she butt-dialed him. He hears another man’s voice in the background before she hangs up.

9 AM: ALEC is taking this new development very hard. He has a bit of a breakdown.

3 PM: Somehow, ALEC had fallen asleep during his aggressive sobbing. He awakens to find PATRICK in the bathroom going crazy. He has a knife and is only calmed down by ALEC after RICKY’s insistence that he do something.

Friday (13)

10 AM: ALEC agrees to meet up with his ex to talk about things. Going into the situation hopeful, he is disappointed as the two argue the entire time.

7 PM: ALEC, a bit angry and not caring anymore, approaches the girl at the catering job. They make small but engaging conversation for a while.

12 AM: ALEC, PATRICK, and RICKY ride home from the catering job. PATRICK relentlessly makes fun of ALEC for his womanizing abilities. They almost crash and ALEC and PATRICK have an altercation.

Saturday (14)

9 AM: ALEC feels like the last 10 days have been dropped all on his body at once. He is a mix of emotions but is optimistic moreso than he has been of late.

12 PM: ALEC and RICKY talk about his ex, the good and the bad. Trying to figure out less what went wrong, and more what he was doing the entire time.

6 PM: ALEC nervously takes off, leaving RICKY alone in the house.

Character Voice Sketches for Personal Narrative Project

Alec: Normal style of writing. Conversational, but still with a sense of formality. His mood usually is directly related to the comments he’s making, but not always in an obvious way.

“Just finally caught up with The Hunt. Stunning. Mads is still so under-utilized in America.”

“It’s so quiet here now. #5Days”

“Out a roommate, anyone have any quick ideas to make cash? #$ellYourBody”

“If I didn’t procrastinate all the time, I’d probably be a pretty productive human being.”

“The amount of people I’ve met who have never seen Singin’ in the Rain is frightening.”

“We all make mistakes. Some pay more than others, it seems.”

Tyler: Avoid capitalization unless he really wants the emphasis. Breaks line by line for each thought. Mostly speaks about his problems with society.

“another gucci ad sprayed all over downtown

another standard set for hundreds”

“#sheep”

“open your mind

lose you inhibitions

L I V E”

“city hall might be on fire

this town might be better off without it”

“TV commercial car billboards computer ads movies product placement

buy buy buy sell sell sell buy buy buy”

“the roof over your head is the biggest gift you have

and you don’t even really need that”

Ricky: Mostly tweets pictures or videos of seemingly normal things with some form of the word ‘beautiful’ attached. The man is obsessed with beauty in the world.

“Destruction. Beautiful. http://bossip.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/trashpile.jpg

“Unreal. http://www.hobotraveler.com/blogphotos/188_12-bum-colombia-no-shoes.jpg

“Stunning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML8CMNzW6Tg

http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs11/f/2007/118/5/2/Birthday_cake_by_LittleFantasy.jpg

“Mother Nature’s beauty. http://www.sevacall.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/iStock_000013883000XSmall.jpg

“Unintended but amazing. http://campwander.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Scrape.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylQtbXFZ4yw

Patrick: Short sentences. Very direct and opinionated. Reflect his materialistic and narcissistic views.

“Downtown. Hit my cell but I’m probably busy.”

“5 new tailored suits from Smith’s on 9th. Quality is the best I’ve seen outside of Europe.”

“Lobster is the cockroach of the sea. Overrated by yuppies.”

“Watch where you’re walking. Filthy people. Don’t touch me with your off-brand leather gloves.”

“Limo service in this city is second-rate. Maybe even third.”

“Rafael’s pulled out a table for me. Food was stunning. Wine pairing cost more than most salaries.”

“Making conversation with man at bank. I just want to punch his face.”

Character Descriptions for Personal Narrative Project

Alec: The protagonist and occasional narrator of the story. He is the recently dumped cinephile who escapes more into film as his recent break-up seems more and more permanent. A bit of a loner, Alec isn’t one for human interaction as much as he’d like to be. He aspires to be like those he sees in movies and identifies with certain aspects of the characters he loves the most. His escape into film is something his ex didn’t understand and something he struggled to explain to her.

Tyler Durden: One of the movie characters that Alec transports into real life. Tyler is a chaotic ball of energy and anti-establishmentism. He hates all things materialistic and loathes the standards and expectations society puts on people in the world. He abhors almost all media, but believes certain aspects of it can be used to spread his philosophy.

Ricky Fitts: Another character Alec transports into real life. Unlike Tyler, Ricky is quiet and unassuming. He’d much rather be a background character in life than the showrunner. An optimist, Ricky sees beauty in almost everything he sees and records much of it on whatever recording device he has handy. Ricky hates fake intentions and the falsities people portray to the public. He strives to be the opposite in everyone else’s eyes, even if his actions label him a freak.

Patrick Bateman: The final movie character Alec transports into real life. Bateman is the epitome of upper-class materialism and narcissism. Appearance is everything to him, it’s the only thing. Along-side that, he’s also got a bit of a violent side to him. A bit of a sociopath and pop culture fanatic, Bateman struggles to temper his murderous desires as he climbs the social ladder.

Models for Personal Narrative Project

Tonally, I don’t want this project to just be coming from one angle. I want there to be drama and comedy, mostly. Dramatically, it will be a bit like a family-drama. So examples could be anything from The Family Stone, to the Vacation movies, or, more aptly, American Beauty. Mostly dealing with the dysfunction of the family and the consequences of such. Dysfunction does breed comedy, though. I plan on it mostly to be dark, but there will be straight comedy as well. American Beauty‘s comedy fits in well here, so does something like Observe and Report. There’s dark and light, like almost anything that’s good in media.

As far as specific voices go, the Tyler character will mostly resemble the @IAmJacksBot Twitter page as it’s based off of the character in question. This is an effective model because it is portraying the character as is in the movie. Chaotic, idealistic, and violent. Also being used as what I believe to be a better model is the @AngryPatBateman Twitter page. I think this moreso resembles the character it’s based off of. Bateman is the opposite of Durden in that he’s materialistic, but they’re both cynical and violent. Although less chaotic than Durden, this character is still just as unpredictable.

lonelygirl15 Project

The lonelygirl15 web series was a very interesting and ambitious project at the time it was launched. I love the idea of being secretive with the type of media you’re putting out in this way. Those “Is it real?”-type conversations are great for whatever project you’re doing and it worked out pretty well for the producers of this show. It’s showing very human characters discussing things that those in their age group give a damn about, so it’s not too surprising that it was a success.

The actual content isn’t very interesting to me. It’s just “lonelygirl15 deals with boys” or “lonelygirl15 outruns The Order”. The addition of The Order was a nice touch and added another layer of drama to the project, but there are still huge chunks of this that weren’t all that engaging to me. I get why, with the realism factor, but a show like this really isn’t in my wheelhouse. It certainly is well put together and thought out, though. But probably not something I would have kept up with at the time.

Justin Hall’s Links

Reading through Hall’s website, it’s pretty insane to see the level of dedication he’s had to it. I also love the fact that he’s stuck with the archaic style of the site itself. It’s pretty amazing to see somebody so ahead of the pack with his blogging, and also to see him keep it up for over 20 years. There is an absolute vault of information about him and those around him that is simultaneously impressive and terrifying.

He makes some interesting posts throughout his timeline. There are some music reviews, relationship writing is there ad nauseam, and there’s even a recap of his family life. Its pretty overwhelming to see the level of intimacy with which he writes about himself and those around him. The linked divorce video was pretty emotional throughout, with a few specific moments where his voice breaks and it’s tough not to break with him.

I’m completely impressed with what Hall has done, no doubt. And I also see the relation of what he did/is doing with what a lot of us are unknowingly doing today. Many don’t realize that they are essentially doing exactly what Hall did, except there’s is less detailed, less emotional (probably), and not as well written. But they are analyzing their life most of the time on social media and that stuff isn’t going away. I applaud his dedication and being ahead of the curve, but I’ll stick to my unfunny quips and minimal life-sharing details, thank you very much.