All posts by kevinkourakos

Progress 11/18

This week I took some time to plan out the events in my story, taking Dr. Zamora’s suggestion moving forward as my next step.  It has been slightly challenging to think of how the story is going to break at different points, but it has been fun nonetheless.  What I have tried to focus on is listing out the main events that will happen throughout the story and trying to fill in the details from there.  That is where a project like this is going to flourish, in the details.  Once I have the entire thing mapped out, I will conduct more research into all of the aspects that still nedd to nbe ironed out, and I believe this will open even more doorways for me to continue to construct my project.  One thing I have also thought about briefly is how I want to put all of it together, as the more that I have thought about it, I think Dr. Zamora was right where this project will end up being more of a screenplay than a novel, and that both excited me and scares me, as that is something else that I need to do research on and see how to put all of this together.  Not a ton of progress, but progress either way.  See you all later!

Update 11/5

This past week has been a total and utter blur in all of my classes.  I work in a retail warehouse and a pizzeria on the weekends, so with the weather getting cold and the holidays upon us, I have been running around like a mad man.  With that being said, my thesis work is coming along pretty nicely.  My efforts this week focused mostly on my formal submission at the end of the semester by way of my proposal and my literature review.  With my presentation coming up next week, I want to make sure I have some of this work done as I feel as though it will be easier for me to convey my thoughts and for the rest of the class to understand my work a little better.  I am now beginning to try and put together sources for my lit review and will begin the process in putting all of this together.  See you all in class!

Thesis Update 10/29

This past week, I attempted to try and put together one scene for my thesis project.  This was a much more difficult task than I thought it would be if I am being totally honest.  As I sat down to complete this, it came time for me to decide what scene exactly I wanted to work on and build.  Given that my story is still in early planning phases, I found narrowing down where I would want to start with and work on first to take more time than I thought it would.  Ultimately, I decided to go with the beginning of my story, the first scene.  For me, this was the best way for me to go because I think it would give me a jump start in creating the world or universe that I want my story to be set in.  Those kinds of details are what will make this story everything it can be, because it will set up a clear direction and vibe for me to work with and build towards.

As I sat down to do this, I began to type feverishly as I could begin to feel everything take shape.  I did not even mention a single character, so as I went on I found I was not writing a scene so much as I was putting together a concrete list of elements that I wanted to be present in the first scene and the symbolism I want to include in the onset.  This may have veered a bit from where Dr. Zamora suggested for me to do, and I am not sure if she is going to like it, but I can honestly say for the first time in the last several weeks, I truly feel like I have made a step in the right direction.  

Thesis Update 10/22

Here is my thesis update, and I wish I have more to report.  I can honestly say that this week kind of got away from me.  I tried to make a point to set some time aside for me to sit down and so some kind of writing exercises that would be linked or connected to my project in some way, but that time never came.  I guess all of my projects have been made in ways that are not necessarily tangible measurable.  I did think more, map more and plan more on certain aspects of the story that I am trying to tell.  Once again doing some reading about elements that I want to add to my story as well as going back and watching some other types of media that have acted as my inspiration for how the backdrop of my world will be constructed.  I have also began to think just a little bit about other characters that I want to have in this story besides my main character and the antagonist.  Do I want a love interest?  Where could that arc be added?  Will it be significant?  What smaller characters do I need?  These are all great questions that I have had to begin to wrestle with, and frankly ones that I had not put a whole lot of thought into, and have to put much more in as well.  As far as this supporting cast goes, I really think these types of characters would go a long way in being able to showcase the entire Kirk Ramsay experience, allowing the reader to see all different parts of his personality.  I find this to be super important because my hope would be that people can relate to him, making the reading easier to digest and understand.  

Another consideration I had this week was how am I going to tangle social justice into this picture?  I am setting out, afterall, to create a piece that can take all of these different current events and create a good yet powerful story and reflection on what is happening around us in the now and how these things may already be setting up our future.  So, I began to ask myself how can I do this?  First off, it is seeing how there can be a correlation of any kind made between the social justice issue that I would want to use and the way the people in my story behave based on the new normal they are forced to face.  What challenges can create a racially motivated, catastrophic scenario that will help me to illustrate these points?  I honestly think that adding this element to my story is going to be one of the most challenging parts of putting this story together.  We’ll see where we go from here. 

PS: Enjoy some Travis Tritt

Thesis Update 10/15

My thesis progress this week has been struggling.  I almost feel like I have hit a wall where I don’t know how to maneuver around.  So, I did the sensible thing of course; I just began to write.  I began writing a chapter and tried to work on some dialogue, I tried to work on writing key moments, vocabulary that I would want to use to describe the setting, the tone I want the characters to have when speaking with each other.  I wrote for a couple of hours and then took some time to read what I had come up with.  I hated it.  I deleted it as quickly as it flowed out of me onto the page, so I felt as if this week for me was a failure of some sorts in my thesis progress.  I am finding a bit more and more difficult to build on where I was before, as I feel as I am trying, almost too hard, to connect all of my broader, independent ideas at a point where I just do not think they are ready to do so.  I meant to spend some time working specifically on the main antagonist of the story that I am writing, but I could not find what I was looking for when I was brainstorming all the different parts of this characters make up.  I approached this by thinking what type of character do I want him to be.  I know I want him to come across as super intelligent and very concise, to the point, and to feel almost void of emotion, at least in the beginning of the story.  By doing this, when I add the part of his background story that explains why he is this way, it would be a nice little twist for the reader and add depth not only to the character, but to the story as well.  

Work has been ramping up as we are gearing up for the holiday season, and that is only my first job.  I have a second one on the weekends.  Between school and my time working, I have tried my best to keep grounded.  My only real escapes from the intensity of my schedule have been Football on Sundays (nothing better than that in my opinion,) working on getting a sleeve tattoo done, and working parts of this thesis.  The creative aspect has been a much welcomed and needed escape from craziness that has become my life.  I am not complaining, believe me when I tell you I do not feel bad for myself, and you shouldn’t either.  We are all struggling. I am sure as life has not stopped, if anything, it has gotten closer and closer to going back to a modified version of what things were like before quarantine.  That is all I really got for you all this week.  Thanks for reading!

Thesis Update 10/8

Here we go with another Thesis update!  While I do feel like I am making good progress week over week, I began to feel as though I needed to start writing actual parts of my project.  I took some time this week to write out an early draft of the first chapter of the book that I am working on.  It was honestly challenging, and believe me when I say that I probably will not let anyone read it as it is so underdeveloped.  This exercise did allow me a chance to work out some ideas that I had in my mind.  I also think it has helped me in developing the early stages of the dialogue in the book.  I know the feel and type of environment I want to create, it is just getting all of those down on paper.  I have mentioned in my previous work done on this project that I wanted to have that southwestern, desert feel to it.  The inspiration for the setting was actually some of my favorite TV shows.  Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy.  I really want to focus on the barren desert, outlaw environment that both of these shows are set in.  With the main backdrop of my story being a post pandemic world that is in the middle of trying to restart within the new normal, I feel as though I need to illustrate how towns and cities in my universe are now more susceptible to crime as the fabric of our world order begins to crumble.  

The research involved for this is something that I am currently struggling with.  Where do I begin?  What is it that I am looking for?  How far do I need to go to develop these parts of my story?  All questions that I am still trying to answer.  With that being said, I began to think about how I would want to look if I were producing it as a TV show.  This aids me in visualizing the story, dialogue, setting, characters, etc in a way that I can better understand, as I have always been more of a TV watcher than I am a reader (whoops.)  Then, I thought back to Sons of Anarchy and felt the imagery and the rough and tough world I want to emulate is one that the show’s creator, Kirk Sutter seemingly perfected.  I went back to watch particular episodes to simply study the landscapes of the highways, the county roads, the layouts of the towns, and began to jot down some words that I would use to describe them.  I am unsure as to how I am going to use these definitively, but I know they will help me when I really begin the process of constructing the setting of my story.  

I do not think I can express how much I am enjoying this endeavor.  With everything that is going on in the world today, having this type of escape is exactly what the doctor ordered.  The more time and effort I put in, the closer this story becomes to me and is quickly turning into my baby.  I admittedly have some lofty goals in mind for this story because I truly believe what I am working on is the perfect combination of timely and great.  By the way, that is not a brag, but more a challenge to myself saying “it is up to you now.”  I look forward to sharing progress as it comes along, and fielding any feedback that any of you may have.  Specifically, I am excited and anxious to spend some time with Dr. Zamora and hearing what she has to say, as soon as I have enough of it put together.  The journey continues!

Bonus: Here is my favorite song by my favorite band, who I draw inspiration from as well

Motorhead: “Damage Case”

Thesis Update 10/1/2020

It took me some time to sit down and get going on furthering my thesis project this week as I had work in other classes that needed to be done.  With that being said, I feel as though I am staying right on track with where I want to take my project.  Once again, I do not want to go too far into the specifics of it all, but I will let everyone know what my process looked like this week.  I actually took some time to continue developing the main character of my story, Kirk Ramsey.  For those of you who have gotten a chance to read the work I posted within my blog last week, you know that this character is something that I have taken time to develop and am feeling closer and closer to him everyday that I spend working on this project.  For me, the biggest thing is making sure the kind nature of my character gets across to the people that may one day decide to read this piece of work that I am putting together.  How I did that this week was thinking back to how I came up with the character in the first place.  It really is a reflection of me in many ways (not necessarily the kindness part.)  Rather, more to do with the way that he keeps to himself.  So, with this in mind, I felt it necessary to do some writing exercises to solicit what I mean.  I approached this by thinking about how I am one to keep to myself and keep myself closed off from others.  I would not say it is my best quality, but I am definitely someone who does not divulge too much of my personal life or struggles to others.  In Kirk, I want to accentuate that feeling, and make sure the reader can see him for how good of a person he is while also being able to recognize the flaws that he may have.  In doing this, I am hoping to make his story compelling and one where the reader feels as though they are cheering for him the entire time.  As my story is built on the “wrong place at the wrong time” kind of scenario, I looked to a book I read in my childhood, Holes.  I, of course, did not have enough time to read the book, so I did the next best thing and watched the film based on it.  In this piece, the protagonist, Stanley Yelnats is a law abiding citizen, and is the victim of his own family’s bad luck and misfortune.  Through the entire film, Stanley never really waivers, or feels bad for himself even though the circumstances are not fair and certainly not his fault.  That is the kind of resilience I foresee with my character in this book.  For the sake of the story as a whole, it is important that he comes across this way to me, as I want the reader to see his pain and feel his struggle as that kind of relatability is paramount for the progression of the story and the Kirk Ramsey character.  

I also spent limited time looking up information about the place that I am setting to be the hometown of Kirk, which is Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Oddly enough, the inspiration for this being his hometown is also kind near to me.  For those of you who do not know, during the spring semester, my entire family, including myself, caught the coronavirus.  I was in my bed for two weeks, as was the rest of my family.  While I spent those two weeks without a sense of taste or smell, agonizing body aches, and a fever consistently at 104 degrees, there was a song (one of my favorite country songs,) “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks that I played on repeat from my google home in my room as I was waiting to feel better.  It was constantly playing this song on repeat that I decided to incorporate the city in which the song is named for into my story.  I know it sounds weird, but because of this, I feel a deep connection to that song.  With all of that being said, I did light research into the city, and even spoke with one of my closest friend’s mothers, as she is a native of New Orleans (not Baton Rouge, but she can still speak to what Louisiana is like.)  I found some information from my chats with her combined with my own research that I plan using to make sure that his character stays consistent with someone that might have come from that area.

This project is becoming more and more a part of me with every activity I do that relates to it and I am going to push on to keep the momentum going. 

Thesis Update 10/1/2020

It took me some time to sit down and get going on furthering my thesis project this week as I had work in other classes that needed to be done.  With that being said, I feel as though I am staying right on track with where I want to take my project.  Once again, I do not want to go too far into the specifics of it all, but I will let everyone know what my process looked like this week.  I actually took some time to continue developing the main character of my story, Kirk Ramsey.  For those of you who have gotten a chance to read the work I posted within my blog last week, you know that this character is something that I have taken time to develop and am feeling closer and closer to him everyday that I spend working on this project.  For me, the biggest thing is making sure the kind nature of my character gets across to the people that may one day decide to read this piece of work that I am putting together.  How I did that this week was thinking back to how I came up with the character in the first place.  It really is a reflection of me in many ways (not necessarily the kindness part.)  Rather, more to do with the way that he keeps to himself.  So, with this in mind, I felt it necessary to do some writing exercises to solicit what I mean.  I approached this by thinking about how I am one to keep to myself and keep myself closed off from others.  I would not say it is my best quality, but I am definitely someone who does not divulge too much of my personal life or struggles to others.  In Kirk, I want to accentuate that feeling, and make sure the reader can see him for how good of a person he is while also being able to recognize the flaws that he may have.  In doing this, I am hoping to make his story compelling and one where the reader feels as though they are cheering for him the entire time.  As my story is built on the “wrong place at the wrong time” kind of scenario, I looked to a book I read in my childhood, Holes.  I, of course, did not have enough time to read the book, so I did the next best thing and watched the film based on it.  In this piece, the protagonist, Stanley Yelnats is a law abiding citizen, and is the victim of his own family’s bad luck and misfortune.  Through the entire film, Stanley never really waivers, or feels bad for himself even though the circumstances are not fair and certainly not his fault.  That is the kind of resilience I foresee with my character in this book.  For the sake of the story as a whole, it is important that he comes across this way to me, as I want the reader to see his pain and feel his struggle as that kind of relatability is paramount for the progression of the story and the Kirk Ramsey character.  

I also spent limited time looking up information about the place that I am setting to be the hometown of Kirk, which is Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Oddly enough, the inspiration for this being his hometown is also kind near to me.  For those of you who do not know, during the spring semester, my entire family, including myself, caught the coronavirus.  I was in my bed for two weeks, as was the rest of my family.  While I spent those two weeks without a sense of taste or smell, agonizing body aches, and a fever consistently at 104 degrees, there was a song (one of my favorite country songs,) “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks that I played on repeat from my google home in my room as I was waiting to feel better.  It was constantly playing this song on repeat that I decided to incorporate the city in which the song is named for into my story.  I know it sounds weird, but because of this, I feel a deep connection to that song.  With all of that being said, I did light research into the city, and even spoke with one of my closest friend’s mothers, as she is a native of New Orleans (not Baton Rouge, but she can still speak to what Louisiana is like.)  I found some information from my chats with her combined with my own research that I plan using to make sure that his character stays consistent with someone that might have come from that area.

This project is becoming more and more a part of me with every activity I do that relates to it and I am going to push on to keep the momentum going. 

Thesis Update 1

This week, like all of us, I sat down to put some good work into my Thesis project and it felt good to get started on this journey.  My approach may be a tad unorthodox, but the steps I took this week are definitely in the right direction.  For those of you who may not know, comedy clubs have begun to slowly reopen, so they are beginning to put on shows and open mics again.  I spent some time this week writing up some new material for myself to try out at a local mic.  I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with my Thesis project.  I’m glad you asked!  I thought doing something like this, that I am familiar with, would help to get my creative juices flowing, which it did.  Seeing as my project is creative in nature, this was an important stp for me.

Once I was able to feel like I was loosened up, I began to do some free writing exercises to put together parts of my story and think harder about the progression of the arc.  I know you are all clamoring to see the and hear the project, but as some of you may know, I am a bit self conscience about my creative work and do not like to give much away until the project is completed.  I promise I will give all of you a look into the specific progress I have made, in time, but until that point I will probably just be sharing specifics with Dr. Zamora as she helps guide me.  I am the same way when it comes to writing jokes for me, where I have one friend that I use to kind of bounce my ideas off of, and get his input.  Otherwise, everyone else I know has to come and see me to listen to my material.  I feel the same way about this work, especially considering it is a creative piece born from my own thoughts and experiences.

I may not want to give specific details, but I can give you a kind of overview of what it is I did exactly.  I sat down in my bedroom and thought long and hard about what it is I want to be included in the arc of the story that I am writing.  To be honest with you, this being an exercise that has been done kind of early on in this process, I honestly do not know how many of these ideas, if any, will make the cut.  It was just nice to see some of my ideas down on paper and see some kind of tangible substance that pertains to this project.  Most of the work had to do with connections and relationships among characters.  I am not sure how many of you read the work I did last semester that was the genesis of this project, but I really have two characters that are my main protagonist and antagonist, but I need more characters to create more substance and to have deeper understandings of my character’s feelings and their personalities, as it is important to show these things as I progress along with my story.  

I am sure some of you have some questions, and I look forward to addressing them with all of you in class this week.  See you all later. 

Expanding my Ideas

I am so excited to be working on this thesis!  I did not have any clue what I wanted to do for a thesis project, and then I was introduced to the Net Mirror.  In this class from last semester, we cultivated great ideas and a firm understanding of the world that we are living in today, and how these advances in technology can become challenging roadblocks to us as individuals and as part of our entire society as a whole.  The culminating project was a story concept, so we had the opportunity to get creative and write something that we truly found to be of interest to ourselves.  For me, it was the inception of my thesis project, “Distance.”  Below is a link to the final product that was submitted, and this will be what guides me in the early stages of creating the piece of work in its entirety:

With this, I have the general direction and themes I want to build on with this piece, but now it is about expanding on these ideas and creating the universe it takes place in, as well as the characters that are going to be featured in it.  More importantly, I want the Net Narr influence to come through clear in whatever the finished product of my thesis becomes.  One of the things that I had most fun with was developing the characters and setting to reflect the kind of work I want it to be.  I went pretty far with it, but now it is time to go even further and refine how I want this to come across to potential readers.  So, I think one of the first steps is going to be really getting into the backstory of the two main characters, as well as that of the protagonist’s mother, who I see playing a prominent role in the finished product of this work.  For me, previous life circumstances and relationships with people play major roles in our development as people and citizens, so I definitely want to highlight the relationship of a homesick son and his supportive mother.  Building this part of the story is going to be imperative for the direction I think I want to go as of right now, so if I were to get started on one aspect or part of the story, this is where I would have to begin, as the relationship with your mother (or lack thereof) plays a pivotal role in the development and formation of a young person’s life.  

It is also very important to me that I get the setting right.  I can envision what I want it to look like in my head, so now it is up to me to put the work in to do the research and make sure however I describe the time and place in such a way that can truly give a feel for the type of environment this story is going to live in.  I have reasons as to why I want the setting to be such a particular way, and that can all be found in the above posted link.  In short, I want it to reflect the feeling of living in an “outlaw” kind of society.

Lastly, if you have read my link above, you will notice it is definitely heavily influenced by the COVID-19 world we live in today (and by my own bout with the virus.)  I want to keep it going and truly make this a time period kind of piece.  With that said, I would love to add the element of social justice and where we are currently in the fight for equality.  I think it is an opportunity to take a snapshot of where we are today, but also a gloomy projection of where we might be headed if we do not fix a number of things that are currently happening in our society.  

Can’t wait to see all of you later!