Diagrammatic Storytelling

The plot of “Great Rock n’Roll Pauses” is about a family existing together, and how the daughter perceives everyone’s interactions. I would say the main conflict comes from learning to relate to an autistic family member or a dad that’s not often home. Everyone finds their own way to relate to each other and this makes the story relatable, each person in the story adapts differently and acts human. The diagrammatic nature is effective in conveying a child’s view of family interactions because it shows how each part of something is as important as the whole, and depending on how you read it different views and meanings can come to light. The graphs at the end of the narrative are great at showing that the dad found a way to engage with his son and created a commonality. It does a great job of showing, not telling, as the main character points out earlier that “charts should illuminate, not complicate.”

Narrative Traditions II

I explored “She and Her Cat” and “160 Characters.” They both explore living a “mundane” life, and so are relatable to any viewer. This is what makes them effective, Aristotle talked about how a story needs to be relatable. These stories explore mundane events and scenes but when these are strung together they create a relatable narrative, they could be anyone’s life, they could be yours. The conflict isn’t explicit or explored because you inject your own experience of living into the story, you know what conflict and struggles are included in living a mundane life so having a relatable story comes with its implied conflict. The cat story is a nice exploration of an outside view into human existence, the cat relates a superficial view of what living alone feels like, with the repetition of daily life punctuated by unexpected events but leaves the particulars for your experiences to fill in.

Post #2: Narrative Traditions II

Small Deaths Movie:

This film seems to be focusing on a girl, each chapter being a stage of her life. It seems to be giving the audience a feeling of what is going around this character. The audience can only see and hear what is happening, it also gives the audience an open idea of what can happen later on in this character’s life. The first chapter is Ma and Da, which for me means mother and father through the eyes of a child. The warm colors around the house evokes some kind of feeling, for me warm colors are comfortable and have feelings of happiness. The parents seem to have some kind of conflict, especially when he did not answer her question about “coming back tonight.” For chapter Holy Cow, the sound together with the curiosity of the two girls exploring the area evoked familiar memories from my childhood. There will be different feelings coming from the audience while listening to the sound of nature. The only color that I see contrasting with the other is red, especially coming from the cow’s blood. The Joke chapter, one that was hard to follow for me, especially the joke from her friends. The only thing I noticed is how the character’s emotions are well put into the situation that is happening in that room. Also, giving the audience the feeling of wonder when the main character is walking up the stairs not knowing what we will be seeing next. 

The structure of this story is simple and can be followed by the audience. The story doesn’t have many conflicts that are visual, maybe there are more internal conflicts coming from the main character, especially when we don’t know what was going on in her house when she was a child. The ending is opened for the audience to interpret, which gives us more room to create our own assumptions. 


She & Her Cat:

This film has an easy structure and story to follow. The narrator is the cat and his point of view of what is going around his surroundings. If these were only images with no narrator explaining what was happening, I would have a different idea of the story. It is intriguing how the cat narrator describes the sounds and the smells, especially because those are the two senses that are well developed in a cat. The black and white color scheme made it feel sad and emotive. There is a conflict that the audience is not aware of, just like the narrator. In this situation we are given the freedom to fill in a situation that might have caused the girl to leave the cat behind. We don’t see her face, but we see her body and listen to the cat’s description of how she is. A surprising ending coming from this story, something that maybe some saw coming, but I did not. Having a narrator to guide the audience can be helpful in some situations or stories, and having a narrator as a cat is even more interesting for some people. This story evokes the cat’s feelings, to which he sounds grateful for everything she has done and given to him. I hear no remorse coming from the cat at the end, it seems to be something that he in a way understands why she left.

Post #4: Diagrammatic Fiction

Hey class!

Drucker’s Diagrammatic Writing discusses different forms of diagrammatic writing while using those strategies in its explanations. One of my favorite strategies was the use of surrounding a paragraph with other paragraphs to create a trapped or smaller feel to the contained dialogue. It changes the feel and impact of the words–they are coming from somewhere specific, rather than just text on a page. Context and placement impact the reception of the words. I also enjoyed the ability to have dialogue with your own writing. You can have a line stating something, then have another line commenting on it using footnotes, smaller lines between the larger lines, or side columns. I could use that for a character’s internal dialogue: the character could state something as a fact, then express self-doubt in smaller text beside it. I found this book genuinely fun, it reminded me of free form poetry.

Egan’s Great Rock n’ Roll Pauses is about a family and their relationships with one another. The protagonist, a twelve year old named Alison, describes her parents’ pasts, family dynamics, and the past couple of days through slide shows. The slides use colors, grouped words, spacing, arrows, shapes, and dialogue side-by-side to provide visuals for the scene and the pacing of the story. Alison’s father Drew struggles to connect with Alison’s brother Lincoln and doesn’t understand Lincoln’s obsession with the pauses in his favorite songs. Alison’s mother Sasha is more private about her past, though Alison repeatedly asks about the death of her mother’s friend. Her father is more open about the past, but is dealing with the stress of losing a patient. Conflict arises when Drew snaps at Lincoln while he is talking about music. Sasha explains to Drew the significance of the pauses in songs, and Drew and Alison go for a walk through the desert. Drew expresses that he wishes to do better.

I personally love the way the story presents dialogue between characters. Having each line of dialogue appear in a separate bubble connected to other bubbles creates an interesting rhythm and visuals. It almost makes the conversations feel more natural, they’re just things a father and daughter would say when walking through a desert together. I also enjoyed how Great Rock n’ Roll presented characters’ thought processes, like how it showed how Lincoln wants to show that he loves his dad by sharing his interests with him. The story also used colors and some shapes to present the visuals of a scene, like the desert, without actually putting a picture of a desert in the slides. The presence or absence of color and dialogue added to the immersion and impact of the story.


Daigle blog 12/24/2023

After watching the story “She and Her Cat” it was fairly clear that there was some missing structure or plot points when comparing it to the Aristotelian structure. This doesn’t take away from the story this video tells however, it just uses a different method on telling a story. I would say I couldn’t tell if there was a clear central point of conflict which is what threw me off. Instead the story focused around building through micro events and observations from another’s eyes. This story is told through the cat’s perspective but I still feel as if the main character and what the story is about is the girl herself. With no clear conflict either, the story doesn’t fail to evoke emotions as even I was drawn in with some worry and sympathy for the girl as the cat started noticing things about the girl. I think there is still clear observable structure points we can see in the type of story  and one that also follows its own set structure and patterns.


Great Rock N’ Roll Analysis

“She says they’re precious because they’re casual and meaningless.”

The plot of ‘Great Rock N’ Roll Pauses’ unfolds through the slight interactions and dynamics of a family, as portrayed through diagrammatic slides. This is the most immediate quality of the story- the sequence and meaning of each diagram within the slide isn’t always immediately intuitive, and often provokes rereads. While each text item or symbol is linked, you often have to process the connection yourself, as opposed to a medium like the novel, where the content is instantly sequential. The elements of plot reveal themselves through analysis and connection of phrases and character in each diagram.

The main instance of conflict in the story comes from Lincoln’s fixation with pauses in songs- an obsession that his father fails to connect or interact with. There are other conflicts, like the mother’s past and art, and the relationships between each of those in the family, though the thread of Lincoln’s fixation remains the core.

The conflict is resolved when Alison, the daughter, goes on a walk in the desert with her dad after he shouts at Lincoln. The two discuss how the father can improve; The thematic conflict of the passage of time and existential fears is also resolved by the end of the walk, as Alison dreads that her own home and family won’t be waiting for her by the time they arrive (an unfounded fear, which leads to an understated and comforting ending).

The character’s changes are internal, and are often revealed through Allison’s interpretations of their behavior: She assigns meaning to dialogue, action, and geography, in a method enhanced by the visual layout of each diagram. This all prompted my own thinking on how to structure a diagrammatic story- I really enjoy how the author trusts the reader to dissect the writing. There is a threshold of engagement that I find rewarding and would love to replicate.

[ I’m not sure if it would fall under diagrammatic storytelling, but this kind of reminded me of ‘What Football Will Look Like in the Future,’ which is a really cool online narrative you should check out! ]

Diagrammatic Writing

The short story “Great Rock n’Roll Pauses,” by Johanna Drucker, follows a young family living near a desert and the struggles they face in their relationships. Through each slide, we’re given different details about each family member and the ways they feel about one another. The conflict revolves around the son, who has a special interest in the pauses in songs. While the family supports this, the father struggles to find it useful and snaps at the son, causing him to cry. The mother comforts him, while his dad, embarrassed, goes on a walk with their daughter. In the end, the father learns how to embrace his son’s quirks and illustrates this by creating graphs of different pauses in songs. 

The changes the characters go through are internal, particularly the father. He learns how to accept his son the way he is and to encourage the different hobbies he enjoys. The diagrammatic structure of the story allows for exploration of its plot and characters in a unique way. Facts and quirks about each person are revealed through small blocks of text that allow the reader to envision the character without long, detailed paragraphs. Each piece of information and where it is placed feels intentional. I think this is a benefit of diagrammatic writing that shines through in this piece. You can choose specific, vivid pieces of detail that paint a picture for the reader and organize it in a way that quickly tells you about a character or storyline. 

A few ideas from this piece that inspired me was the way that the information is laid out to tell you something about a character. One example of this is on the slides about the mother’s annoying habits, clearly written by the daughter. The numbers attached to them, such as bad habit #48, tell the reader a lot while saying little. We can see from this that the daughter is critical of their mother and is often irritated by some of the little things that they do, even if they’re not important. Aspects like these make each person multi-faceted in just a few words. Overall, I found the story to be a fascinating exercise in the different ways that you can structure a plot and how that influences the tone and emotions it delivers.

“Great Rock n’Roll Pauses” Analysis

Hello everyone,

The story Great Rock n’Roll Pauses tells the story of a family who live in the desert. This family consists of a dad, who works as a doctor. A loving and supportive mom. A 12 year old daughter (and author of the story). And lastly, there is the older brother of the family–Lincoln–who has a hyper-fixation on pauses in rock and roll songs.

The conflict of the story revolves around the father and Lincoln. Lincoln is seemingly obsessed with the pauses found in rock songs, and seems to have little other interests besides this. He does not have any friends aside from his family members, and it is due to this special interest of his. His father wants Lincoln to develop interests in other things, so that his son can make some friends and live a more “normal” life. When Lincoln resists his attempts, this leads to him crying and the father regretting pushing his son so hard.

From reading this story, it seems that Lincoln is autistic. Autistic people tend to be extremely interested in only a few specific things/hobbies. These are called “special interests” and Lincoln has a special interest in the pauses in guitar rifts. Additionally, he has difficulty making friends, a trait commonly found in those with autism. Lastly, the scene where Lincoln begins crying and curls up into a ball after his dad gets upset with him gives me the impression that he is special needs.

While Lincoln does not change in the story, his father does change. He accepts his son’s limited interests and decides to be a better father to him.

This story inspired me when it comes to writing a diagrammatic story in one particular way. During the start of the story, it has a slow burn/pace and introduces readers to the characters. There is a lot of characterization, and we get a good idea of each of the characters by seeing all of these details that don’t impact the plot directly. I could write a story where I do the same thing, introducing all of these small characterizations to get readers invested in who they are reading about and to learn more about them.

– Gibson

Great Rock n’Roll Pauses

Great Rock n’Roll Pauses was a really interesting read that kept me engaged and somehow was able to guide the readers eye through the use of text placement. From what I gathered, the story is about a family of four that lives in the desert. The father is at work being a doctor and rarely has time at home. The mother seems to be home during the day taking care of the kids. The son Lincoln is really into pauses in rock music. His dad keeps trying to shift Linc’s interests so that he starts to make some friends. Linc doesn’t react to this very well and starts crying. Dad tries to console Linc and apologize but Linc runs to his room and shuts the door. Dad asks his daughter if she wants to go on a walk. Father and daughter have a bonding moment on this walk and the Dad learns to embrace Linc’s interests by agreeing to help graph out the different pauses. The story ends with images of the charts. The conflict of the plot is the father’s effort of shift Linc’s interests. The text and slideshow aspects of this story make it engaging by using graphics to explain and visualize story elements. A grate example is the slide about the siblings rooms. They are separated by a wall and would knock on it to communicate. The slide displays a 3D box to symbolize said wall which separates the texts for the respective siblings.

She & Her Cat

For the blog post I had to go with “She & Her Cat” The film doesn’t have a lot of action or drama, but it still manages to be interesting. The film is like the slice-of-life genre. It’s kind of like a diary of their everyday routine. The still shots of everyday items add more to the story building. The cat symbolizes the girl’s emotions and how time passes in the film. Even though it doesn’t have a significant conflict, the film still has a pattern. It’s like a cycle, where the girl and her cat do the same thing every day. It’s a simple film that makes you think about life and relationships differently.

Narrative Traditions II: Meshes of the Afternoon

I had to watch this twice and I am still not fully sure how to make sense of it all. At first, I thought the camera work almost mimicked what you see in modern-day vlogs of people’s lives, but as the story fully unfolded it felt more like something out of a dream. Each scene felt like it had its own loop within a story cycle, each fragment clues to the bigger picture. I want to say that the catalyst of the story was the flower on the ground that she pick up right at the start, but I also tetter between the record playing may have induced the woman into the lucid dream she was in. In each cycle, there is a repetitiveness amongst objects, the woman in black, the knife the telephone, and the key, each a catalyst on its own within a scene. It seems like the woman was trying to break a cycle of a bad out-of-body experience or that those items were triggers to a relationship she was in with the man. The mirrored face in one of the scenes at the bedside comes around again as a potential lover. Maybe it was a failed relationship and maybe she was reliving the key moments that brought her to her break point. The story arc is quite fragmented with each scene having a beginning middle and end. But for the story as a whole, I am not sure where that arc lies.

We Need to Talk About Small Deaths

The short film I chose to watch was Small Deaths, since I enjoy Lynne Ramsay’s work. This story does not adhere to Aristotelian plot structure, instead presenting three spliced but thematically linked vignettes.

The ‘conflicts’ throughout these separated scenes are mostly internal- we are watching formative moments in a girl’s life, all of which have to do with masculine cruelty or negligence. It all feels detached and melancholic, with many stilted wide shots (The pair looking down at the cow, or the girl alone in the stairwell) that evoke the sense of dreamlike recollection. I think the budget constraints lend themselves to an intentionality and economy of filmmaking, where the tinny voices and cheap film elevate this remembered atmosphere.

The world of the film does a great job in emphasizing that these traumatic instances are chronologically and tonally distant from each other- the soft, golden light of the pastures is quickly undercut with the grunge of the apartment. Ramsay is also talented in her use of specific images; The gore of the cow, the harsh close-ups on laughing faces, or even the simple blocking of the haircut at the back of the frame are all communicative of what the titular ‘small deaths’ represent.

Narratively, this most resembles an episodic structure. Each story is not reliant nor continual of another, but features similar themes, an enclosed resolution, and the same character. It especially works for this short because it can encapsulate sweeping ideas on a decades-long scale with only a few simple scenes.

Week 3 Blog Post 1/24

For this week’s blog post, I watched 160 Characters and She and Her Cat. I really enjoyed the one about the cat because of the art and animation, but I also thought the plot and the dialogue were interesting. The narration starts before we meet the narrator, and we assume they are human but it actually is a cat who is speaking about how much he likes his owner. The cat’s love and relationship with its owner is pretty much what the whole short film is about, and there isn’t any meaningful conflict. There is a part where the owner receives a distressing call, but I think that it was just used to give the cat an opportunity to talk about the owner. The thing that gives us a  sense of time and direction is the seasons changing. I think it could be argued that the seasons changing is what drives this plot forward, and the narration of the cat’s thoughts are a result of him spending time with her over the seasons. The cat’s view of her never really changes, which I think shows a lot about the cat’s character. It shows he’s loving and loyal, and is a narrative pattern in this film. I also watched 160 characters, and I really enjoyed the way montage was used to show the daily life of the narrator. The plot is driven by the woman finding an old phone, and we see most of the plot and dialogue through texts she sent to an old boyfriend. The plot really isn’t about her, though, and is actually about the kid that they have together and the want from her to have the dad in the kid’s life.

Post #3: Narrative Traditions II

The film I wanted to discuss in my blog post was the short film “160 Characters”. I chose this film because it was the one I was the most interested in. The story presented in the film is a personal story which is part of the reason I was drawn to it. Another reason I was drawn to it is because it is a story that I think tells a somewhat relatable story (in one way or another) with our day and age being absorbed in technology.

The film follows the story behind text messages over a decade from 2003 – 2015 between Victoria and her ex-partner. With that being said, the world in this story is built primarily from text messages with some dialog here and there to provide more context to the story behind the messages.

The conflict in this short film lies within the relationship or lack thereof at some points with Victoria and her ex-partner. Their relationship starts off well with the first text revealed from Victoria saying, “I had a great time last night” however, it quickly ends with a phone call from the ex-partner saying “it’s not you it’s me”. After the phone call, it is made known that Victoria is pregnant and is not with the father of the baby. So, we now have a conflict where Victoria finds out she is pregnant shortly after the father of her baby breaks things off with her. Following this, we now have another conflict with the continuous back-and-forth of the father’s involvement with the mother and the child. Therefore this short film does not follow the Aristotelian plot structure that we learned last week because the story does not develop around a single, clear conflict.


Narrative Traditions II

The short film that I decided to write about is “She and Her Cat” by Makoto Shinkai. This film shows the relationship between a cat and its owner through the cat’s point of view. The story starts with the women at the cat’s first meeting and then going through their daily life. As the story continues the cat meets a female cat who he rejects due to his strong love for the woman. Later on, the woman gets a phone call, but due to the fact that this is from the perspective of a cat, or just simply that it wasn’t important to the plot, we don’t know what happened on the phone call. We know as much as the cat knows which is whatever was said during the phone call that night made the woman very sad. The cat does the best he can to make her feel better by comforting her and eventually she is happy again.

This story doesn’t revolve around a clear central conflict. Instead, the structure of the story feels more relatable and natural, like we are looking at someone’s daily life. However, while it isn’t very straightforward, with the lack of certain aspects like background knowledge, there is still conflict. The conflict occurs during the phone call, but we don’t exactly know much about it. It is later resolved when the woman becomes happy again. There is also another conflict between the cat and his girlfriend when they argue because he has stronger feelings toward the woman.

Narrative Traditions II – 160 Characters

The story itself is told through first perspective during the narrative parts to provide context to the series of text messages. The incident that moves the plot along is when the man starts to distance himself from the girl Victoria until the next point of conflict comes up which is the pregnancy. The man keeps up a pattern and is usually the one that the conflict seems to start, from him ghosting Victoria countless times and trying to give attention to her when it fitted his benefit such as when he found out Victoria was pregnant. We never get to see the father or even the man’s name just to show how much of the man is even part of their life. He existed and was never really introduced back to Victoria and Jim’s life. The name dropping of both main character and Jim is a constant reminder of the consistent presence in this story and the man didn’t exist. 

The way the story is told is effective in getting myself to be immersed in this retelling of the character’s past. We can imagine what must be going on around the main character’s thoughts during the interactions with J and the state of relationship they have. Most of the dialogue is through text typed up on screen. I think it also fits into the perspective of how this part of her life had a great effect on her. It is not happening in the present, but it her past helped to mold the present she is in as of right now in context of the film. There is no vocalized dialogue as the only record of this time was through digital formats and old papers from that time. We don’t know anything about other characters other than the main character and the text messages she reads. The parts are labeled in months and with the years to ground a sense of time, almost like going through an archive of some sort rather.