Plotting character change

While working on the treatment for Carrion I’ve started using index cards again. I’ve used them in the past to set out scenes. But found it lacking as a writing technique. The difference this time is I’ve been using them in combination with a technique that was described to me by Charles Harris at his Exciting Treatments workshop. It’s a technique that allows you to quickly develop the “inner change” of your character. For example your character might start out “naive”. And end up “insightful”. Between those two states of being the character might progress from “naive” to “curious” to “confused” to “disappointed” to “determined” to “inspired” before becoming “insightful”. The technique involves describing the various ways you show character through the obstacles they encounter. And actions they take. Ask yourself. What stands in their way? And what action would this kind of person take now? I find it a very effective way of building plot and character simultaneously. It can be done on a bit of paper. But I’ve started doing it with cards. Using cards allows things to be changed easily. Without having to confuse yourself with the layers of scribble that inevitable build up when scrawling on a bit of paper. The other thing that I have found helpfully is to change the sequence of the cards. When it was shown to me. The “inner story step” was presented as a column on the left. With the characters action described in a column on the right. Now I start with three columns. Left to right they read. Outer obstacle. Inner change. Action. This layout allows me to construct sentences that describe the characters development. For example. Adam is outraged at Christine’s drug use. Feels self-righteous. So arrests Christine. Adam’s outer obstacle is Christine’s drug use. His inner story step is self-righteousness. The action he takes is to arrest his sister. As with most writing techniques that work for me. The deceptively simple.

Auto-post from instagram to wordpress

I recently started using instagram. And have been struggling to post the images directly to this site. WordPress offer a post by email service. So I thought it would be a simple matter of emailing the pictures directly to wordpress. I quickly realised I had no control over the size of the emailed image. As you can see the theme I use has a relatively narrow post area. This meant I had to go back into wordpress. And resize the image each time I posted. Time consuming. Especially when I was trying to do it on the go. The wordpress iPhone app is okay. But lacks the functionality necessary to do that particular operation easily. I needed a way to control both the size and position of the posted image. After much trial and error I have found a way to auto-post my instagram images to wordpress. Basically I email the instagram image to flickr. And flickr auto-posts here. To make it work you need three things. First the instagram app. Second a wordpress blog. And finally an account on flickr. First things first. You need to set wordpress to enable auto-embeds. To do this log into your wordpress account. And navigate…

Dashboard.
Setting.
Media.
Auto-embeds.
Check the “Enable auto-embeds” box.
Save changes.

Then you need to set the default post category. To do this navigate…

Dashboard.
Setting.
Writing.
Default post category.
Select a default post category from the drop-down menu. (Unfortunately you can only choose one. I use photography.)
Save changes.

Once that’s done. Head over to flickr. And connect your flickr account to your wordpress account. On your flickr account page navigate…

You.
Your account.
Sharing & extending.
More sites.
Wordpress.

Enter the relevant information in the pop-up window…

API Endpoint (your-blog.url).
Username.
Password.
Check the “Save my password” box.

Then confirm by clicking…

Next.

If you’re having trouble check out the WordPress support page. It will guide you through he process. With that done you now need to set the default layout for images posted to wordpress. I wanted to post my images at 450 pixels wide. To do that you need to select a blog layout. Navigate…

You.
Your account.
Sharing & extending.
Wordpress.
Edit.
Select a blog layout.

You are then prompted with…

Select a template for blogging a photo

From the templates available select…

500px on its own line.

On the next screen select…

Customize.

It’s now possible to edit the CSS. I replaced…

<div style="margin: 0 0 10px 0; padding: 0; font-size: 0.8em; line-height: 1.6em;">
<a href="{photo_url}" title="{photo_title}">
<img src="{photo_src}" alt="{photo_title} by {uploader_name}" /></a>
<br/>
<span style="margin: 0;"><a href="{photo_url}">{photo_title}</a>, a photo by <a href="{uploader_profile}">{uploader_name}</a> on Flickr.</span>
</div>
<p>{description}</p>

With…

<div style="margin: 0 0 10px 0; padding: 0; font-size: 0.8em; line-height: 1.6em;">
<a href="{photo_url}" title="{photo_title}" target="_blank">
<img class="aligncenter" img src="{photo_src}" alt="{photo_title} by {uploader_name}" width="450" /></a>
<br/>
<span style="margin: 0;"><a href="{photo_url}">{photo_title}</a>, a photo by <a href="{uploader_profile}">{uploader_name}</a> on Flickr.</span>
</div>
<p>{description}</p>

For the purposes of this post I’ve broken the code down into lines. It’s all based on a post already made in wordpress. As you can see I added target=”_blank” to line 2. A class=”aligncenter” and width=”450″ command to line 3. With that done you then need to select…

Preview.

On the preview screen confirm by selecting…

Save this layout.

That done it is now possible to post images directly from flickr. And have them appear correctly formatted in wordpress. You just hit the wordpress share button. But to do it directly from instagram you need to set up flickr’s upload by email option. To do this navigate…

You.
Your account.
Emails & Notifications.

In the upload by email options select…

Edit.

You will either see an option to create an upload-to-flickr email address. Or an email address that looks something like this…

emailphotos@photos.flickr.com

This is not the email address you use. This will only email your photos to flickr. Good if you want to post directly from your camera roll. But instagram will auto-post to flickr for you. So there’s not much point. To post to wordpress you need the email address in the bottom right hand corner of the page under the heading “Upload to Blog?”. It should look something like this…

emailphotos2blog@photos.flickr.com

Add this address to your iPhone contacts. It’s now possible to post directly from instagram to wordpress. There are a couple of thing to be aware of. If like me your wordpress blog feeds your twitter account. Which in turn feeds my facebook account. You need to deselect these share options within instagram. I deselected all the instagram share options. So after I take my picture. Add select my frame. And add my caption. I can select the email sharing option. Auto-post from instagram to wordpress without having multiple entries all over the place.

Single paragraph treatment

Just over a week ago I attended Euroscript’s Exciting Treatments workshop run by Charles Harris. Using some of the things I was shown on the workshop. I have written a single paragraph treatment for Carrion.

Carrion is a science fiction thriller set in a contemporary future where the animosity to drug use is evangelical. When government agents release a plague of drug eating insects. A self-righteous policeman is forced to confront his intolerance. After his drug using sister is attacked by the swarm. As users start to fight back. And the war on drugs escalates into civil war. He is compelled to help his sister traverse the embattled city. Fight gangs of vigilantes. Evade police snatch squads. Flee hostile troops. So she can escape to dealer controlled territory. And the hope of a cure. Transformed by what he has witnessed. Realising the inherent cruelty of prohibition. He picks up a gun. And joins the insurgents.

I often find that posting something here solidifies it in my mind. I hope it will stop me tweaking what I have written. And move on to write a longer version.