Writing in a World of Distractions

In a technologically driven world, with all the capabilities the internet poses, it can be difficult to write a magazine feature that will be engaging enough for its reader to stay interested in until the end. In other words, how does one compose an extended feature so engaging that the reader will resist their urges to venture elsewhere? A lot of it has to do with the way the writer is able to initially engage the reader, indirectly both ask and answer questions regarding the topic, and organize the information in a way that there is a sense of balance throughout.

Within Leslie Jamison’s feature written for the New York Magazine titled, “In the Shadow of a Fairytale”, Leslie is able to successfully create a feature that is both interesting, possibly relatable, and overall engaging for the reader. She starts off by instantly telling a personal story about her stepdaughter and their relationship. She then takes that story and is able to relate it to a bigger picture; the classic evil stepdaughter stepmother relationship depicted in fairy tales.  

She continues on with personal background stories related to her relationship to her stepdaughter, her husband and just her overall personal emotions regarding both. In doing this, Leslie is able to make the reader feel personally connected to the story, whether or not they can relate to the idea of being an actual stepmother themselves. She also throughout the entire feature makes effective allusions to many of the classic fairy tales all readers would be able to connect with. Leslie even points out specific aspects to these fairy tales that parallel her own situation. Not only does this act as a catalyst in engaging the reader, but it also further demonstrates Leslie’s own concern over the topic. In other words, she is so concerned about her relationship as a stepmother to her step daughter that she seeks out the negatively depicting fairy tales as a source of solace.

Leslie incorporates references to studies and quotes from psychologists and other intellectual resources in order to enhance the legitimacy of her feature. Doing this in the magazine feature turns a personal and opinionated story into a tale with real world legitimacy. All the while, she is still able to interweave her own personal story simultaneously, creating a stronger sense of empathy within the reader.

In terms of structure and overall visual layout of the feature, one thing that was particularly satisfying was the interspersed usage of the large gothic lettering that one would usually see in a fairy tale. It added to the piece’s authenticity. Also, the usage of imagery was very satisfying. Instead of using normal images from the disney fairy tale movies, actual creativity was put behind creating collage style pieces of art; giving a non-living piece of writing life and further conveying a sense of personality that was already transpired within the writing. Upon fully reading Leslie’s magazine feature, one can see how it is an effective piece of writing that will have its reader committed all the way through.


Digital Personality

With the fruition of the new digital age, one of the many positive side effects has been the birth of new creative mediums. One has the ability to display their creative intellect and its products to the entire world in ways that were never possible in the past. Apart from the conjunction of social media, one such way is by creating a website. By creating a website, one can use the website as a means to not only showcase their art in a tasteful way, but also their personality and life story. With this being said, one can see the creation of a website as a piece of art within itself.

Now, as a predecessor to creating my own website, it was important to study and observe some examples that efficiently function in their objectives. One that stood out to me in achieving this was a multimedia site. It was created by Jimmy Chin to display all of his creative avenues in which he portrays the natural beauty and excitement that entails his adventurous lifestyle. Being that he uses both photography and videos, I was interested in how he would set up his site in a tasteful way that wasn’t  overly dressed to impress. 

Upon visiting his site and exploring its features, I realized that Jimmy seems to have value in simplicity and efficiency.  The home page was as simple as it be. One eye catching picture of a snow covered mountain, who’s jagged white tips surpass the clouds, made up the background with three sub-links going across it: one titled ‘motion’ for his videos, another titled ‘about’ that gives Jimmy’s background story on how he became a photographer/ filmmaker and his achievements, and lastly the third titled ‘still’ showing Jimmy’s photography. 

It seems that Jimmy’s stylistic taste is a minimalist one, which he makes up for in his audacious lifestyle. In my opinion, the minimalist approach to his site does the more to expose the thrill/eye catching beauty he enjoys during his adventures. I personally found this to be inspiring and even relatable because I enjoy simplicity and have the aspiration to one day live adventurously, although I don’t see myself ever skiing Mt. Everest (as Jimmy has).

When I moved my cursor over the sub-links, a mini slideshow would appear highlighting some of the media within it. For instance, when I put the cursor over the ‘still’ sub-link’ some of his images would start to flash across the screen, and when I put it over ‘motion’, a small trailer for one of his videos started to play. I also found this to be effective for it made it more engaging for the user. Then once I fully clicked on the sub-links I was able to scroll through and easily choose what I wanted to view or watch. The background color was white, which may be seen as boring to some, but with the sharp colors captured in his media, it makes no difference. I’d even say the plain white background is a nice offset to the sharp colors captured by Jimmy. Overall, as I said earlier, Jimmy achieves great efficiency through his use of simplicity.