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Flash Exercise

Some of you are really moving forward with your tutorials and have requested some additional work, and of course some of you already know Flash quite well so don’t need to do the tutorials.

I’ve put together the following exercise for you to do that I think not only gives you some Flash practice but introduces you to concepts I think are important to electronic writing, such as “recombinant” text (text that can be reordered while reading), the use of text/image, navigation, and ways of writing particular for the computer.

You don’t have to do this exercise if you don’t have the time, but I’d love to see some of you try this, even if only in part. Just writing the text and describing the potential piece, even if you don’t create it, is quite a lot.

Here is what I want you to do:

  • Create a “stanza” form (it doesn’t have to be verse, it can be a paragraph or one sentence, etc.) which has a visual element to it. For instance, your stanza could be a single line of exactly 40 spaces in Courier font. Or it could be a sentence in which the first letter of each line is in a much larger typeface. It doesn’t have to be a strict form, just something to give you a soft constraint. Your stanzas could also be anagrams – the photos on this site, for example, were made out of the phrases “Van Helsing” and “Man on Fire,” the last two movies to show at this theater. Other rules, such as rhyme or letter-based constraints (words have to be in alphabetical order), are good. Content-based rules, such as each stanza must contain a historical figure or a type of sport or something, are also interesting.
  • Write at least five verses in this stanza form (again, the “stanza” can be prose). You can write as many as you want, of course, but at least five.
  • Create a navigation system that moves the reader through these stanzas. It can be a simple button, but try to integrate the navigation into the piece. For instance, if the button is an image (or images), make it somehow link thematically or conceptually with the text. Navigation can also be replacing parts of the text with other parts – it doesn’t necessarily have to be like flipping pages in a book, it can be like moving pieces around a board, etc.

That’s it! Audio components are optional, but if you want to give that a shot, feel free. But they should be integrated into the final concept of the piece as well. If you have any questions about this let me know.

Here is something that I did for Eunoia that relates to this exercise. I took the “e” chapter and created a little reader for it. Rolling over the buttons causes each paragraph to fade into the next; clicking on the dot sends the paragraph into fits (you can hit “reset” to bring them back).

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