Regular readers will have noticed the redesign of the blog links on the left sidebar of this site.  As I mentioned in Character exposition in blogfic pt. 2, part of the advice I was given by the panel on my transfer Viva was that the cartoony nature of the icons was incongruous with the otherwise colour co-ordinated and quite dark and ominous design of the site, and of course they were right.  The character icons are very important, as I explained.  They’re part of the exposition of the whole BI story.  But they belong on the character blogs, which is where they remain and occasionally change according to story events, as I’d planned.  Here, what was missing was a sense of where the stories were taking place.  Just the avatars and names weren’t really enough, and I hope that the new images place the characters more firmly in their environments as well as tying in better with the ambience and colour scheme of the site.  I’ve enjoyed doing this.  I’ve never been able to draw well, but I love messing about with colourisation and effects on Paint Shop Pro, though finding the right royalty-free no-attribution images to mess with is a bit tedious.  In future, I might try and take my own photos.  Many thanks to Helen Newall, a recent addition to my supervisory team, for her help and advice on this!

The character blogs have also had elements of redesign.  Mei changed her Avatar background as a subtle sign that Jack didn’t get to decide where she belonged, and she changed the picture banner on her blog shortly after the first isolation period ended.  It’s of students fetching buckets of water from Weiming Lake (meaning the Nameless Lake) on Peking University campus, again painted beautifully by Lia Segar and cut into letterbox views by me.  Here’s the full image:

Weiming Lake

Weiming Lake

I quite like using changes of avatar and blog design as part of the narrative, as it’s an element that’s only going to work and be noticeable to those reading in real time.  To anybody starting from the beginning, the characters will appear to have these avatars throughout.  It’s a device specific not only to the medium but to the real-time serialisation.  That said, I’ll be able to replicate it in the printed copy and the ebook, which will both contain effectively static copies of each entry.  Each alternative format gains and loses something.

In addition to the changes on Mei’s blog, we’ve seen Ash’s daughter change his avatar back to the chicken for him, and he doesn’t seem too bothered.  We’ve also seen Elaine change her hair colour twice so far.   Look out for other changes of avatar and blog design in the near future.

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7 Responses to Website Redesign and Blog Fiction

  1. Fiona says:

    I really like the photographs. And “Mei’s” watercolours are wonderful.

  2. Bobby says:

    There is something wrong with the “posts and comments, beginning first” page. It doesn’t show all the posts, it shows none of the comments, and of the posts it shows, none are from Ash or Elaine.

    Comments start appearing on page 3, with the “Defending the farm” post. Posts by Ash and Elaine start appearing on page 2.

    Anyway, with what is said in this post about changing avatars and such, I think I might wait for the ebook. Since I don’t really want to follow the story in realtime, I figure that’s going to offer me the best reading experience. How long is this story scheduled to go for?

    • Emma Pooka says:

      Hi Bobby – thanks for feedback, and for letting me know about bugs in the system! I’ve updated all my themes and plugins just to make sure it’s all going as it should this end. It seems like the plugin is fine, but RSS feeds themselves can be pretty buggy, especially when something slows down the servers they run from, and there’s not a lot I can do about it.

      I put all the blogs on WordPress.com because the feeds were more reliable than any of the other options I was looking at, but they still get a bit slow and messy sometimes, especially now there are a lot of entries on each blog. If you check again tomorrow, it will probably have sorted itself out.

      The story’s scheduled to go on till November 7th, and after that I’ll be working on the printed version to hand in as part of my Ph.D. thesis. The ebook, to be honest, is a bit speculative at the moment, but I’m keen to try out the available software and see what I can do with it. I can’t promise any publication date at this time, but knowing that somebody’s interested is extra motivation to get it done! 🙂

      • Bobby says:

        Ok, thanks for the answers.

        • Emma Pooka says:

          Hi – Just to add to this, I’ve discovered that Elaine and Ash’s feeds were set to only store the last 10 entries, while Mei’s and Jack’s were set to 50, so I’ve fixed that. Unfortunately, 50 seems to be the maximum a free WordPress will allow, so the comments won’t appear on the feeds if you go back more than a few weeks, but you can still read them in the entries by just clicking on the link.

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Bad Influences by Emma Pooka is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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