This week’s mission improved a side of being a secret agent that most people don’t consider: the writing! I did not expect to write so much this week, but it led to some exciting developments. Also, I was able to use my CSS plugin to change some of the page settings. Namely, I changed it so that all my links within each of my posts will appear white unless you mouse over them. I thought that was a cool touch that fit in with the theme. I’ve been learning about the power of white space in typography and web development, so it was cool to be able to implement parts of what I learned in a simple way. Before I delve into all the writing, let’s take a look at some of the daily creates. The first one should be of no surprise to any agent in the field. I chose a gadget that I wished I had to unlock some of my creativity:
— Ahmed Khokar (@amkhokar1) January 29, 2017
This thing is an absolute beast of a machine. I’ve used my friend’s Intuos tablet a few times, and it’s incredible. The pen feels great when you use it to write, and although it’s not the same as pen and paper, it’s also a lot easier to make adjustments on the fly. Unfortunately, they’re incredibly expensive and the president wants to cut funding for creative programs – so chances are the agency isn’t gonna be investing in one of these bad boys any time soon. The next assignment was a direct order from the new president: put a funny little pink hat on a picture of Obama.
— Ahmed Khokar (@amkhokar1) January 30, 2017
Even with the pink hat, you gotta love the million dollar smile. I found out that the preview tool that comes with Macs is actually pretty robust with features. You can resize images, change transparency of each one, and do a decent bit of editing – not to mention you can copy and paste images on top of each other. There’s a lot more to learn, but it’s nice to know that you don’t necessarily need Photo Shop to do some basic editing for pictures. I want to explore more, free resources once the visual and photo assignment weeks come. The third daily create was using a bond movie poster generator. I found this website pretty nifty, and I clicked a few times before I found the poster of Daniel Craig :
— Ahmed Khokar (@amkhokar1) February 1, 2017
Now, time to get into the writing for the week. I started off by reading an AV club article about TV Spies and Secret Agents. There were several shows I’d heard of, but never seen. Luckily, my sister was a cinematography fanatic, so I had seen a few of them with her. On my own, I’ve seen a few episodes of Burn Notice and Alias. I’m surprised Archer wasn’t on there, because it has gained quite a bit of popularity (I’m biased). It was helpful to gain some more historical perspective on the genre, and to compare some of the common themes between them. I decided to watch Kingsman: Secret Service, and it certainly did not disappoint. It was one of my favorite spy movies of all time. I analyzed it from the perspective of a story curve, and you can find more of my thoughts in my blog post.
For the second mission, I created a character dossier cover page. As I was thinking about the character, Agent Bongo (A.K.A. Boris Ongorachov), I filled out some of the information that was important to consider on the dossier. Here’s what I came up with :
I then thought of some potentially interesting ways to introduce Bongo in writing. This process was part of some exciting developments this week, perhaps an “Aha!” moment, if you will. My character began evolving. The style I chose for my introduction post was that of an interview that I did with my character. I never considered how that character was going to directly interact with my persona until this assignment (it seems like a no brainer, now that I look back on it). You can find the transcript of the interview here. It was fun thinking about hiring a PR guy for a spy agency from my perspective, and I was laughing for much of this assignment.
The next assignment I chose was to do a diary post from the perspective of Agent Bongo. This was the second evolution of the character. At first, I wanted to make Bongo just a PR guy to make it purely satirical. As I was thinking of ideas for a diary post, though, it seemed more interesting to make Bongo a double agent. He would pretend to be a PR guy, thinking he wouldn’t actually get the job, and then his agency would force him to continue the mission, to his dismay. He would be bitter and in disbelief about the realities of a spy agency with a PR department. You can check out the diary post from his first day at the office here.
After the diary post, I switched gears a bit. I thought of how lonely it would be as a secret agent, and so when I saw the assignment about emotional lyrics, it resonated with me. I decided to think of three songs that brought on nostalgia and say a few words about their significance to me. I loved this assignment, because I got to see some of the lyrics from several songs I used to enjoy before narrowing it down to three. Check out my nostalgic playlist here.
Getting back to Bongo, I found some excellent opportunities to do multiple assignments relating to the same character. This allowed me to flesh out some of the early interactions between Bongo and my persona. I talked more in depth about the process and inspiration behind the making of the character. This is the first time I’ve really delved this deeply into character creation, and I was surprised at the process. I’ve heard writers say things like “The character shapes the story,” but I’ve never been able to relate to that style of writing before. Getting to experience, firsthand, even a small evolution in a character that I thought of really illustrated that quote. You can read more about the process in my character spotlight.
My final assignment, of course, also related to character development. I told myself, after the creative euphoria of the diary post, that I would continue the diary posts throughout the semester in some capacity. Why not now? I used a fortune cookie generator, and I wrote the second diary post incorporating the fortune, “Do not be hasty, prosperity will knock on your door soon.” It was tough to think of an angle, but I tied it in the best I could. It really felt good to continue the narrative of the diary post. I think it will provide additional avenues of creativity in future assignments. You can read Bongo’s second diary post here.
To wrap things up for the week, I scoured Twitter and various blogs by my fellow #ds106 agents. Here were a few of my favorite daily creates from the week:
— Todd Conaway (@Todd_Conaway) February 1, 2017
— (((Terry Greene))) (@greeneterry) January 31, 2017
— Sandy Brown Jensen (@sandramardene) January 30, 2017
I also wanted to highlight some of the blog posts I enjoyed. The first one was a blog post about Vonnegut’s video (The shape of stories) . Legally Brunette incorporates Kingsman: Secret Service into the post, and I enjoyed her summary. The fun that the filmmakers have with the movie is contagious, and I’m glad someone else wrote about it as well. It’s rare to see that so clearly in movies.
The second post was titled Secret Agent World. In the post, Amari Byrd discussed Spy Kids which fit in with the nostalgic mood I was in after creating my playlist. I thought her logo and website were both phenomenal. I commented on both of the blog posts with some thoughts, and I will be checking out more of their posts this weekend.
This week felt like a lot more work than last week, but it was more focused. I enjoyed the focus on writing, and I could see elements of my writing improving with each assignment. It was also a helpful lesson in getting over writer’s block. Sometimes, you just have to write something (anything) first, and then ask questions later. But there were also times I started writing quickly and had to scrap everything to start over. It gives me a bit of appreciation for the amount of thought and hard work that goes into creative writing. Despite the obstacles, I felt the reward of making something I was genuinely proud of in my new character, Bongo. As each week’s assignments become more focused on a particular type of assignment, I’m excited to see how much more I’m going to have to push myself to improve. It feels great to have an idea shaping up so clearly in my head, but I know there are going to be several more twists and turns along the way.