Tag: Powerpoint

A pre-preparation of rites

A pre-preparation of rites

Like I mentioned in my post showing off the character sketches from my novel-in-progress, this Friday I will be presenting my Senior Honors Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

We got the official email with the final schedule brochure and everything. It’s happening.

Not only is it happening, it’s coming up at full speed.

So most of my day has been spent preparing the Powerpoint I’ll be using. A few weeks back the Honors Program Director Sandra Perez asked me to help another student who wanted to do a creative writing project, as she said the pre-preparation I’d done was impressive.

That experience wound up being my lightbulb of inspiration. I realized that my project was better grounded in a Pre-Preparation of Rites than “I wrote part of a book.”

By the end, I’ve come to find that a whole lot of preparation was involved in my novel.

Most of it is stuff I’ve discussed on the blog before. The character sketches, map-making, research into Dungeons and Dragons and plotting out the story among them.

But then there are more exotic elements to the process as an overarching narrative — Such as my inspirational material, John Scalzi’s Redshirts and the prep work on earlier creative writing pieces.

And let’s not forget the elements I have yet to talk about.

Notably backend research into creating believable cultures for my fantasy world. I asked my old professor Paulo Simoes for some advice because a lot of his background involves researching ancient societies, figuring out how they tick.

He recommended trying to model my fictional cultures and the events that characterize my world off of real-world societies.

After all, he says it’s a successful strategy for shows like Game of Thrones, which modeled its famous Red Wedding scene after massacres in Scotland.

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Image courtesy of Game of Thrones Memes and Quotes Blogspot

Game of Thrones is in vogue to reference right now, yeah?

I’d hope so. Because I’m more than happy to capitalize on that, even though I haven’t personally watched the show.

For my project, however, I am not utilizing Game of Thrones in any capacity. Rather, I’m using “The Story of Civilization” collection of historical novels to base parts of my book on periods of history. As suggested by Dr. Simoes.

Along the way, I’ve been trying to craft the oral part of the presentation:

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I have 15 minutes to present, and then I’ll have to be ready for five minutes of audience questions. I’m hoping I’ll be all put together and confident by then.

While getting prepared, I took some time off with my Mom to go out and put something sweet together with the drawings from Elizabeth:

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Just a little something to help remember the project by. Doesn’t it look nice?

I think it looks really nice, personally.

My children come to life

My children come to life

Next week I will be presenting my Senior Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

Literally, next week. Friday, May 3 at 11:10 a.m. in room 1307 of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.  Just in case any of you are interested in going!

It’s a whole panel on creative writing that includes my novel, a children’s book about a character with Down Syndrome and a collection of essays about learning English.

I’ll talk about that more, but it’s worth a plug now.

Mostly because it gives me an excuse to talk about one of my most exciting pieces of presentation preparation:

The character sketches.

For the last couple months I’ve been working with the wonderful Elizabeth Person to draw my four main characters. Having tangible ways to see them was a perfect way to spice up the PowerPoint.

It just so happened that my Mom knew Elizabeth from her work with Edward Branley (whom she does book edits for), and her art style meshed well with the fantasy aesthetic.

As you can see in my Featured Image, the drawings came out really well!

But of course… You didn’t think I would show off my babies and not talk about them, did you?

Nah. We talking all about these good folks!

I need to practice for my presentation, after all.


Warrior

Eliott Aviknard

Eli is a human knight who leads the adventuring party into raids, looking for treasure and glory so they can leave their small trading town in the Western Badlands and see the Bresegon Empire’s capital.

He proudly uses his father’s white armor and blade, both staples of the paladins who serve as royal guards. For the most part he is stoic and cool-headed in combat.

However, that cool facade often gives way to a defeatist, lamenting rant into a mug of ale as he blames himself for the party’s frequent inability to secure the treasure they need. Which, as a result imposes upon Romeri for funding, keeps Julianna from going abroad and impedes Sovann’s desire to prove himself as a thief.

He is also deathly afraid of horses, which comes up often as he tries to overcome that roadblock preventing him from truly becoming the paladin he claims to be (to the jest of his friends).


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Julianna Rhuiviel

Julianna is a quiet, well-studied elven mage, an up-and-coming expert in both tome- and scroll-based magics. She carries around enough encyclopedias to be a jack-of-all-trades in lore around the continent.

In the world of Isenvid and the Four Orbs (my novel’s current title), the elvish people have a tragic backstory. Their village in the Gnarled Forest was invaded by Bresegon soldiers and razed, with most of the children being taken away to reeducation schools.

Julianna was one such child, and to this day retains both a desire to find acceptance (only used to racist rejection), a drive to learn her people’s history and a fear of fire.

An element that tends to being important for a mage.

Her personal feelings of being unaccepted leave the girl self-conscious about her 7′ height, glowing porcelain skin and somewhat gangly figure. She covers herself up (under the guise of avoiding sunburns) and prefers to go by “Julie.”

Though Sovann and Romeri will frequently get on her nerves with the affectionate “Ju-Ju.”


Archer

Romeri Russev

Romeri is a human archer and the oldest member of the party. She is business-savvy and worldly, having traveled before settling down to run a tavern, and she’s matriarchal; offering all of her friends an ear.

She tends to be the most fashion-forward when not in battle-ready armor — but even then tends to go for style over substance. Her desire to look good is matched only by her desire for wealth and fiscal security.

In combat Romeri is indispensable, though she has a tendency to arrive late to the party. Her long-ranged attacks almost never miss, as she has a long history of training with some of the best soldiers on the continent.

In fact, her ex was a royal soldier who now runs her own traveling mercenary troupe. A connection that may or may not become relevant in the story. Wink wink, plug plug.

She terrifies the elf who tends bar while she is away, and her hair is dyed by flowers.


Cleric

Sovann Krei

Sovann is a human thief with a skin condition called vitiligo.

From an early age he was trained to be a cleric in the Furbism tradition, a religion that was nearly wiped out as its capital was sacked to leave the Bresegon Empire in control.

He’s an effective healer, but got bored of that mundane life and decided to become a thief. There he could find action and fight with his preferred weapon: Daggers. That transformation is symbolized by his old priest’s vestment, which has been modified to serve as a cloak.

However… He’s a klutz, and more often than not people will defeat enemies before he has the chance, which leaves Sovann relegated to healing duty.

He bemoans the job but eagerly helps his friends, and carries his old staff tied to his back with the unused sleeves of his cloak.

Sovann is also known to be a tease (especially fond of poking fun at the budding romance between Eli and Julianna that only they do not realize is happening), and will hit on just about anything that moves.


They’re wonderful, aren’t they?

I’m planning on finishing my novel over the summer once I have the stress of finals and graduation out of the way, which means hopefully you’ll all be able to read their story sometime soon!

In the meantime, I definitely recommend checking out Elizabeth’s work. It was hard to give away my babies and let someone else try to visualize how I’ve imagined them, but she did a wonderful job and was really communicative throughout the process.

Even traded rough sketches here and there for my feedback:

It’s been awesome, something I’m absolutely considering doing again.

I can’t wait to show these guys off alongside the preplanning of my plot and map next week!

My little yellow book

This Zombie Jesus Day, I spent most of my time down in the cave.

… Is that an insensitive comparison to make?

I suppose it might be. But I think it’s funny, and really all I mean to say is that I spent the day cleaning my room and the downstairs bathroom. Not only has dust built up since the last time, but we have family coming out to California for my graduation in May.

Puts the brunt of making things look nice on my shoulders, since I’m the reason why people will inevitably be here stressing my Mom out.

All that toilet scrubbing and floor sweeping and Amiibo dusting has me worn out, so I don’t want to linger on writing too long. But I want to get something out considering I skipped yesterday in favor of playing Pokémon with Aly and watching The Lego Movie 2.

Not that I regret either of those choices.

Between my bouts of cleaning, I spent some time starting to pull together a PowerPoint for my Senior Honors Project presentation.

Doing so has been a trip down memory lane, as I’m essentially summing up everything I’ve done for the last year.

Except it goes much further than that.

Part of my project involves the context of my experiences with creative writing prior to this novel. I have many single-chapter story drafts lingering around different folders on my computer that came about from dreams or fantasies and unfortunately never went anywhere because all I had were those singular ideas.

But then I have the one project that made it further than any other prior. All because, I’d argue, I pre-planned everything in this sweet yellow notebook:

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The summer before I started at Cal State Fullerton, this book and I were inseparable.

I distinctly remember sitting out by the pool at my Dad’s friend Sylvan’s house writing things out. Everything from character descriptions—

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To bits of lore about the world and magic system—

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To a lengthy run-down of the plot—

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Beat-by-beat.

Because of the amount of effort I put into this thing, it’s one of my favorite stories conceptually. Even though I moved away from it because of school, it’s a piece I feel like I can return to one day.

Especially since I took such meticulous notes on where I wanted the story to go and when.

That’s the main takeaway for my current Senior Honors Project. Pre-planning is very important to coming up with a solid idea one can move forward with.

Though if I did go back to this yellow book story, I’d have to rework a number of the really cliché bits. Like more tastefully handling my “amnesiac protagonist,” if I keep that at all.

I’d also have to completely rework the ending. At the time I came up with a vague encounter against a large mechanical wolf because something, something, bad guys invented technology using magic.

Basically the arc of Avatar: The Last Airbender, in hindsight.

So yeah. Work would be needed.

But I still have a soft spot for Anya, Maribel and their band of misfits and fantasy tropes.

In fact, the yellow notebook has been in the front pocket of my backpack for all these years. Just in case I ever do go back to it.

Who knows, maybe after I finish with Isenvid and the Four Orbs, I will go back and put it together.

Fantasy-adventure novels seem to be my thing, apparently.

Might even be fun to take the genre in a less deconstructive direction.

Burnout

I’m sure a small number of you out there read the title of this blog post and got very excited that I was finally going to talk about the hit series of demolition racing games that have (apparently) been released on just about every console since 2001.

Well… I’m not going to. Right now anyway.

I do actually have some fond memories of playing Burnout games on the PlayStation 2 with my dad that I could probably talk about some day.

That’s just not my plan for right now.

No, instead I just wanted to briefly touch on a more depressing, real-world form of burnout: School burnout.

The end of this semester is kind of killing me with stress right now, guys.

We only have two weeks of regular classes left at this point, and after that there are three days worth of final exams I’ll have to take. So we’re hitting the last stretch of fall 2018.

That means all of my teachers are stepping up their games with a number of incoming deadlines and attempts to squeeze in as much information as possible in a short amount of time.

Obviously this post is just here for me to vent on everything I have going on that’s contributing to stress, so let’s lay it all out.

  • In the next week or so I have two major papers due, as well as a couple of smaller two-page papers to write.
    • One of those major papers is almost done, but the other one I haven’t really started on… Yikes.
  • At least one more quiz tomorrow in my Sensation and Perception class, though probably another one coming next week if I’m being honest.
    • By the way, last week the professor of that class introduced at least six more lecture PowerPoints online to fit into only four more lecture sessions AND let us know his cumulative final will not be curved — nice guy.
  • Whatever other homework I need to get done that will be assigned in the next two weeks.
  • Three exam finals, one of which being a cumulative test as I mentioned, as well as a fourth exam that’s a case study analysis for my Mass Media Ethics class.

But let’s not forget about all the other responsibilities I have lining up!

  • I’ve scheduled out at least three interviews for Gladeo in the near future to focus work on.
  • A potential sit-down with a family friend about a new potential job opportunity that I could take on. Not yet scheduled.
  • My friend Tiana wants me to help her edit another one of her papers, which I’m more than happy to do but don’t know if I have the cycles free — and the thought of turning her down due to time management almost stresses me out as much as adding helping her onto my workload…
  • Wanting to fit in continual trips to the gym into my schedule so I don’t fall off that commitment, especially after moving boxes the other day made me feel less confident about the progress I’ve made thus far.
  • Trying to keep up writing a blog post a day.
    • Yeah this blog does stress me out, in a similar way to going to the gym. It has become an obligation for me that I feel terrible about skipping, especially after things like my dad complimenting my commitment to writing during lunch with a family friend yesterday.
  • Just generally thinking about girls and wanting a relationship but feeling like I don’t know if I have the time to commit to one (more of a deeply personal grievance).
  • Plus a couple new video games I own thanks to Hanukkah that I have not gotten the chance to start yet.
    • Probably the lowest rung on my priority list, but it’s there.

Like I said, I actually feel really bad when I have to miss writing something. Yesterday I was simply too buried in a small mountain of homework to get around to writing anything, unfortunately.

So I wanted to write something up today for the ten of you or so who read this stuff regularly. Even if it just amounted to me barfing up all the obligations that are stressing me out for the next couple weeks.

If I’m going anywhere with this post besides making it a ventilation system for my stress, I suppose the through line is my asking for forgiveness ahead of time if I don’t get to writing as often over the next couple weeks.

… Though knowing the way my brain works, I’ll wind up writing a lot here anyway in place of taking extra time to study. Because it’s a decent stress reliever and my priorities are weird.

Also because I love you all. Especially when you stick with me for things like this.

Teaching Styles

As most students will tell you, over the years you begin to notice patterns in how some teachers decide to present their material.

Obviously some will be more lax while others are more strict just in general, but there are deeper distinctions when it comes to specific aspects of teaching that everyone approaches differently — especially at the college level.

For instance, one professor may only do the bare minimum of testing requirements to supplement one’s grades. Only a midterm exam, a final exam and a written paper (which is required for just about all undergrad classes in the CSU system at least).

Meanwhile, another teacher will inflate grades by doing something like scheduling a smaller quiz on material every week.

It all depends, and while there’s likely some answer to be drawn from somewhere on which method is more effective in hammering in material, it’s kind of just a subjective what one person prefers sort of deal.

All of that said, I wanted to write this quick blog post today before diving into this 13-page piece I have to read to talk about a decision in how to teach that I’ve discovered I really don’t enjoy.

Not involving that class with the 13-page reading assignment though. I’m probably going to keep these more annoyance-centric school blog posts anonymous.

Just in case.

This semester, one of my professors encouraged us to print out each chapter’s PowerPoint so we can follow along with it during lectures.

I’m not personally a fan of doing that sort of thing. I find that I retain more information when I’m writing everything down myself (something that I believe does have some precedent in research studies), so if I just have a print-out describing everything in the lecture it seems less effective.

So I decided to skip out on printing the PowerPoint and instead relied on good-old-fashioned note taking as usual.

Except apparently that suggestion to print out PowerPoints for each chapter was more of an expectation that we would be doing it.

Because this professor apparently zooms through his lecture so fast that I now have to go back and copy everything down off of the PowerPoint online so I can fill all the gaps I left before our quiz on Thursday.

Don’t get me wrong, especially in an upper level major course, I understand the desire to let students be somewhat self-reliant and go quickly through a lecture so that there’s time at the end to do other things.

We did get out of class at least a half an hour early as a result of going through things that fast. I won’t necessarily complain about that.

But to be completely honest, I would have preferred to get out of that class on-time if it meant going through the lecture at a slower pace so everyone could understand it better, regardless of how they take notes.

Yet in the end I suppose that’s a personal preference, so I’ll just leave it at that. It’s simply a form of teaching that I don’t really enjoy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t figure out how to adapt.

I’ll probably just print the PowerPoints from here on out.

To end this off, I figure I’ll throw this general topic out to you all in the audience. Have you encountered any teaching practices that you don’t enjoy? Or maybe the opposite, any teaching practices you really enjoy?

Let me know about them in the comments! I’m interested to hear about some preferences today