greerwatson (greerwatson) wrote,

On my website..."Phases of the Moon"

It's been a while since I've made a post discussing the graphic design of the webpage for a story—but then it's been a while since I uploaded any stories! Now, though, I've put up four in quick succession. "Phases of the Moon", which I did for fkficfest, is by far the longest, coming in at about 6K words (not to mention a ridiculously long section of notes of one sort or another). For that reason, I'm going to discuss it on its own. The three "small fry" will get a separate post.

Once fkficfest was over, I immediately posted "Phases of the Moon" to FKFIC-L and my website. In the intervening period, I'd had plenty of time to work on the design. You can see the page for it here. It's a big story, in my opinion, and so I wanted to give it a special webpage design.

Because "Phases of the Moon" is set in Ancient Rome, I wanted its page to have a Roman theme. I decided therefore to create a sort of stylized version of the floor of an atrium—an aspect of the architecture of the Roman domus (or townhouse) that is mentioned more than once in the course of the story. The main background graphic, therefore, is a tiled pattern of the sort that might appear in such a room. I initially selected a graphic that I've seen on more than one site. It's a pattern of large square brown marble tiles interset with small white ones:

However, the orientation (with a strong horizontal line) copied that of the panels for the story itself. I decided that a diagonal floor pattern would be preferable. After some work (to put it mildly!), I came up with this:

As you can see, the colour was also slightly tweaked. Anyway, the new tile suited what I had in mind.

In the centre of the atrium of a Roman house, there was normally a small pool situated under an open skylight. The pool would fill with rainwater, draining down into a cistern underneath. To simulate this feature, I put the title of the story in a nested table at the top of the page. The background of the central panel of the table has a water-patterned graphic. Around this "pool" is a mosaic border. To make the border, I googled some mosaic and turned it into a series of tiles (vertical, horizontal, and corner bits). Here's an example of one of the bits of mosaic:

I then used a selection of colour-toned stone-textured graphics to create my usual nested-table border around the panels containing the story.

Usually, that would be it. However, "Phases of the Moon" presented another challenge—one not exactly unknown with Forever Knight fan fiction. It had flashback scenes. Now, such scenes are often set off from the main story simply by heading them with the date. Here, though, all the dates are Roman; and I knew readers would not want to have to work out a time line in their heads as they went along. Therefore, as well as printing the flashbacks in italic, I decided to set each one off from the main text by putting it in a separate table with a slightly darker background. For this, I used a graphic resembling old parchment.

"Phases of the Moon" ends shortly before the scene in "A More Permanent Hell" in which LaCroix (or Lucius) returns from the Gaulish campaign to meet Divia at Seline's brothel. As all Forever Knight fans know, this was just before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. I therefore ended the story with intimations of the future, as the earth trembles.

Most fortunately, the creators of the Discovery Channel documentary, Pompeii: The Last Day, released a few images to the public domain. I was therefore able to get from Wikipedia a lovely picture of the eruption, which I put at the end of my story. I guess you could call it a snapshot of the to speak.

The pioture of the eruption also serves to separate "Phases of the Moon" itself from the notes, dictionary, and bibliography—which are really of absurd length!
Tags: fan fiction, forever knight, graphics, website updates

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