2/7- Ideas from McCloud (Late)

I’m excited to try and play with spacing and the sequencing of frames when working on my visual narrative. I’ve been actively tinkering with things such as spacing gaps and turning words into visuals into writing that I have done in my own time, though I never put much thought into why I was structuring things the way that I did other than ‘I want to play with space’. The idea that a detail such as frame sizing or the size of a gap between frames can act as such a powerful silent director to readers is so interesting to me; especially as someone who has only ever really worked with words and being limited to what letters on a page are capable of in terms of formatting. Working with telling stories through images is not something I have done a lot, so I think that I’m going to end up experimenting with all of the tricks that we’ve read about in McCloud’s book at some point or another– if not in this class, in my own time for sure. 

There are two things in particular from McCloud’s book that I really wanted to try messing around with in my own visual assignment, despite the fact that they aren’t very common in comic storytelling. I did read ahead in the book, so these ideas may come from farther in the reading than this prompt is meant to focus on. This said though, the first is the idea of having panels in later moments in comics affect those in earlier moments; for example, a bullet from a gun fired in the 6th panel hits a character in the 4th panel, or something of that sort. I feel that it offers a lot of opportunity for playing with time or visual loops, like a drawn version of the looping videos we made in class.

The second idea is one of making a visual story into a sort of ‘choose your own adventure’. I love the idea of personalizing stories more for readers/players/etc., and I also enjoy the idea of exploring multiple endings and being able to incorporate different paths that will not only let me further expand on my story and its world, but to embrace all the different paths that the characters could fall down. 

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5 Short-Story Summaries

  1. A story in the Classical Aristotelian 3-part structure
  2. A story in Kishōtenketsu 4-part structure 
  3. A story in an episodic structure (at least 3 mini-stories under a main theme)
  4. A story in a surrealist or fantastic mode 
  5. A personal anecdote as a fictional story

1- The dreams that come to life at night are usually a brilliant sight, transparent and blue, sparkling as though made up of the stars. But if the dreams are stars, then nightmares are the very blackness of the night sky, monsters of seemingly pure nothingness. Their bodies are made of something so much darker than ink that looking at them can feel like you’re simply staring into an empty space in the universe.  Nightmares are not unusual and often they are easily defeated. But for some reason, there lurks in the deepest parts of everyone’s minds, one nightmare that haunts ones every sleeping moment– Breaker. Breaker is a sleep paralysis demon of another kind, a monster that belongs to not just one person, but to every  denizen of Bryville.

The story starts (beginning) with an introduction to a special unit of dreamers  called ‘Lucidity’ to fight off the nightmares. It is made up of a large group of lucid dreamers who have the ability to control their dreams once they have breached into the physical world. Dreams are naturally stronger than nightmares, as those having nightmares generally have no desire to continue them. But Breaker of a different breed, having been formed by a collective fear shared by the whole town.The main portion (middle) of the story follows the newest member of Lucidity, a young woman named Lissa, who has shown the most potential for fighting nightmares yet. Lissa’s pressing problem is that she suffers deeply from trauma-induced insomnia, and so is unable to achieve sleep deep enough or fast enough to help fight nightmares. In the end (Resolution), though, Lissa is able to conquer her fears and past in a way that finally allows her to better control her sleep cycle, and use her powerful dreams to defeat Breaker. 


2-The story follows a young inventor named Aria, the daughter of one of the major steam-technology technicians, who lives in a world where steampunk technology and magic from the natural world are at arms. Magic wielders do not take kindly to the steam-societies, as their destruction of nature has begun diminishing the world’s magic. Aria inherited her father’s knack for machinery and works to take his place in the future. She’s never known her mother, and the role of her other guardian is filled in by her full-time guardian and advisor Thorne. One day, a frustrating project pushes Aria to her limits and her emotions suddenly materialize in the form of a magic burst (Introduction). After her initial terror and shock, she is left wondering how she is now meant to balance her place as a sudden gray area between the clashing worlds of magic and machinery. On her hunt for answers, she is accompanied by: Thorne; Raven, a member of steam-city lower class who claims to be on a hunt for fame; and Eira, a sorceress who plays the group’s guide into the world of magic. Together, they find themselves facing money-hungry vigilante groups, masters of dark magic, and mysterious kidnappers. (Development). In the end, they discover that Aria is not the unnatural being that she is painted to be throughout their adventures. A villainous man named Kyrathus comes to hunt her down himself. He is revealed to be the leader of a secret government organization charged with eliminating others like Aria in order to keep the societies at arms, so that non-mages can remain powerful (Twist). With the help of her allies, however, Kyrathus is defeated, and the group runs from the steam-city, now wanted criminals by the government (End).


3- ‘Spelling Mind Games’ is a TV-G series that resembles a typical criminal justice show, but with magic powers, and meant for a younger audience (think Scooby Doo). It follows a group of investigators who solve crimes; and in between individual cases there is an overarching story in which the group is pursuing a villain who spends the series pursuing  unbelievable power. At the end of every episode, the viewers get a look into the villains’ plans, often finding out that they were the source of the episode’s crime. It is a show centered around the idea that smaller crimes are often an effect of larger crimes at play (hinting at societal inequalities and organizational corruption). Episodes fall into 3 categories: short plots (solving small crimes); long plots (progress towards the villain); and world building plots (side ventures that develop the world or characters). 

An example of a short plot episode would be one in which a low-level crime is committed, such as the robbing of a small store or a mugging. The team goes off to find the culprit and discover the person responsible. Said person confides that they committed the crime due to difficulties finding work after being unfairly laid off from their previous job and now having no money. Though incarcerated, sympathy lies with the criminal.

An example of a long plot episode would be one in which the team gets a new lead on the main villain. They spend it pursuing the lead, nearly capturing the criminal before they inevitably escape and prolong the chase.

An example of a world building plot would be one that perhaps follows one of the cast to their home, where viewers get a deeper look into not just their own daily lives, but that of an ordinary citizen within this world. 


4- ‘The Somber Funhouse’ follows Michelle, a young woman living in the country who recently received news of her grandfather’s death. He had played a supportive role in her life since she was young, and his passing has left her in terrible grief. Unfortunately, Michelle’s hardships don’t stop there. After a few days of wallowing in her own emotions, her beloved cat, Darcy, escapes, running off into the woods behind her home. In her pursuit of him, she eventually comes across a mysterious circus tent and enters in hopes that Darcy may have gone inside. What she finds, though, is not her cat, but instead an impossibly large maze of funhouse mirrors– each one showing her different variations of herself throughout her life. Suddenly, led about by familiar figures of loved ones long past, Michelle finds herself traversing through time-traveling mirror realms, face-to-face with all the heavy losses of her past. She revists old homes, schools, pets, friends, and of course family in an attempt to learn how to finally deal with her own grief. With every mirror, Michelle gets closer to escaping the circus– and closer to accepting that the things we love never truly leave us. 


5-   Working in customer service is generally seen as a thankless and taxing job; and for the most part, Kai can attest to the truth of that statement. They suffer through their poorly-paying food service job for no other reason than the free food and the friends they’ve made along the way. Between the physical strain and frequently rude and impatient customers, it often doesn’t feel worth it. But just as they often see the worst side of humanity, they often also find themself seeing the best of it as well. Such as the people who gave Kai five dollars just for letting them use the bathroom (that was already publicly available!); or the man who had no cash to tip with, and so left behind a rose instead; or the woman whose husband was just diagnosed with cancer and needed an ear to listen to her fears. Between innocent children asking innocent questions, tired adults who break down at a kind gesture, and lonely elderly who just crave some company, Kai has the privilege of being reminded that sometimes humanity isn’t all that bad. And that at the end of the day, everyone is just stumbling through life in their own human ways. 

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January 31: DG Storytelling prompt

The plot of Great Rock n’ Roll Pauses seems to lie in the small daily conflicts that occur within this family’s home. The beginning of the story is us getting introduced to the family members through their own respective graphs and colors. Sasha, the mom, is thoughtful, artistic, and seems to be the support pillar of the family. She is represented by grounding colors such as browns, beiges, and yellows. Alison, the narrator, is inquisitive, observant, and engaged in the ongoings of her household. She represents herself with bright purples and the occasional orange. Drew, the father, is withdrawn, not emotionally savvy, and logically-minded. He is represented almost entirely by various shades of powerful or watered down reds. Finally comes Lincoln, the youngest, emotionally driven, and full of energy and enthusiasm. He is represented by lively and youthful greens of varying shades. These colors are interesting to me especially when I consider their relations to each other. Sasha being represented by browns and beiges for the most part puts her in a position to where she can act as a compliment to the colors of all the other characters. Brown being neutral in its tone makes it easy to fit in where it is needed. Her yellows feel like the more artistic parts of her, and it might explain why Allison chooses to use orange as her occasional secondary color. Her fathers red mixed with her mothers yellow gives her this blend of their two personalities. Lincoln’s green is also an interesting color choice, as red and green are contrasting colors, which add to the conflict that exist between father and son. 

There is conflict in the fact that Drew is often not present due to his demanding job as a doctor. There is conflict in the troubled and emotional past of both of the parents. There is Lincoln who is trying to find someone to listen to and engage with his interests; and on the opposite end, there is the rest of the family trying to be encouraging of his interests, even though they aren’t always interested. And of course, there is the conflict of Drew not understanding his son’s interests or obsession over something small like pauses in music. Drew, as a character of conflict, often has the slides and diagrams based around him shown in various shades of red. This may indicate his place as a source of trouble in the family, even if unintentional; like a red stop sign that keeps the family dynamic from driving smoothly along. 

I would say that Alison and her father show change by the end of the story, though I don’t see much in the mother and Lincoln. In my mind, Alli finds that there are stories in silences, and sometimes those silences become too overbearing. Her mother’s silence about her past is one example, in which she then realizes that she makes people uncomfortable by asking for these untold stories to be told. There is also the point where she and her father are walking back from the desert and she is hit with the possibility that time has flown by under the silence of the desert night, and that when they get back her mother and brother will not be there. 

Drew has the most obvious change in the way that he comes to view his son’s interests in musical pauses. It is clear that he wants to understand this topic better for Lincoln’s sake, but he doesn’t understand the fascination or purpose of the interest. Because of Lincoln’s difficulty in communicating from being on the spectrum, he often has a hard time getting his true ideas across, and so there is a gap between him and his father. This is shown especially well on slide 16, where we see Lincoln’s thought process go through several layers of turns, taking it farther and farther away from the idea that he truly wants to express. But in the end, Drew seems to come to his own sort of realization that there is power in the pause– an idea that he may have taken away from the long pause from the world that he finds in the desert. 


Between ‘Great Rock n’ Roll Pauses’ and ‘Diagrammatic Writing’, I was able to learn about a lot of tools and tricks that I can use to help myself put together my own story. Playing with the distance between words and blocks of text, the shapes that text can take, and the colors the text are written in do a lot to help guide the reader not only in terms of reading, but also in terms of how I want the story to be read internally and what sort of emotions I want to convey. I want to play with something like the circular diagrams that are used in ‘GRnRP’, as I like the idea of the reader being able to read parts of a story in any direction or order. It adds a level of freedom to it, and to me, makes a scene feel more loose, natural, and unstructured. I also like the idea of the intertwined texts that we read about in ‘DW’ as a way to show competing dialogues or conversations happening at the same time.

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Short Films Response (Late)

All of the films have a sense of on-going-ness to them. They don’t happen in any specific time frame, but occur across a long period of time. We are given a sense that the story continues even beyond what we as viewers are shown, and that there was likely some story that occurred before the start of the films that we never get to see. The conflict is with more daily-life issues that are not a one off occurrence: mental illness, the loss of innocence, a limited worldview, an absent parent. These stories hold our attention because they call to some deeper part of ourselves who recognize these strife that often affect us in our real life. They are linear, but unpredictable, just like time and life itself. The two films I’ve chosen to look at more closely are ‘Meshes of the Afternoon’ and ‘160 Characters’, which both show off this snapshot realism, because those are the two that I felt I connected with on a deeper level. 

‘Meshes of the Afternoon’, to me, shows a woman struggling with her mental illness. As I was watching the film, I saw the recurring flower as a symbol of life or the will to keep living; the figure in all black was her ‘monster’, which wore a mirror of her face because she is her own inner demon. The house was representative of the darker sides of her own mind, where she is constantly battling with noise and unstable ground and nonsensical chaos. Her hesitancy to enter, shown by her knocking and the slow opening of the door, is her trying to reject her darker thoughts, but inevitably she always returns again, no matter how many times she chases that dark figure down in an attempt to regain her will to live. This could also explain why the house is so plain in design, as those with extreme mental illness are known to lack observation skills, often missing smaller details of the world around them; and the phone that is off of its hook is symbolic of her either giving up on or feeling as if she cannot call for help. To me, the key to the house felt like an indicator of self-harm, as seen by the way it turns into the knife on and off, and by the fact that it always is the thing that lets her into this house of instability. I have a feeling that the record, which plays a somber tune, is reminiscent of the loud, negative thoughts in her head. When we are introduced to the man that seems to be her partner, it feels as though he has walked (confidently, I might add, no knocking at the door) into this space of her darker thoughts, bringing the life flower with him in an attempt to help her settle down with it. Her attacking him seems like it might be indicative of a scene where she lashes out at him as he tries to help her come to some level of peace with her own illness, and yet we do see him come back again. I believe that the image of the broken mirror is showing us that she eventually attacked her ‘monster’ and took her own life. The man comes to her one day and finds the life-flower on the ground outside, and goes in to find her dead in the house, having succumbed to the chaos and violence of her own mind. What we do not get to see, though, is his reaction, and what ensues after. This would likely be an entirely separate story of its own. 

‘160 characters’ didn’t mean as much to me in terms of symbolism, as ‘Meshes in the Afternoon’ did, but rather it was a story of sad reality and emotion. As somebody who has a strained relationship with her own father and has seen her mother struggle with trying to get him to be active in her children’s lives, I felt the emotional impact of this film personally. Telling a story through text messages seems to be the producer’s way of adding an extra layer of distance between the characters– we see the mother and her child together several times throughout the film, but never once the father. He doesn’t have a face in this story, really driving home his absence in his son’s life. Due to his neglect as a parent, the narrator– the boy’s mother– likely struggled financially, relying on the help of friends and family. The few shots we have of the apartment they lived in indicate that it was simply a cheap place to live. This is especially driven home by the shot of the balcony, where we hear sirens echoing outside, possibly indicating that they are in a bad part of town. We also know that her son does not get his first mobile phone until he is well into his teens, which may be another nod to their more meager means of living. The man’s absence and sporadic involvement is very likely going to have an effect on Jim in the future as well, as he wonders who his father is (which his mother is preparing for) and why he didn’t stick around. 

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Fargo Post (Late)

how does the plot set in motion the actions and reactions of the main characters? What do these actions reveal about the inner lives of the characters, about their flaws and transformations? Identify and describe other characteristics of a tragedy of tragic structure (from Aristotle’s Poetics) that you observe in Fargo. Quote from the text.

The characters in Fargo are interesting because some of them seem to be deeply altered by the plot while others seem to remain utterly static. In fact, from what I see, the biggest change in characters that emerge at the plot progresses is in the antagonists, which is actually not horribly shocking when one considers the old idea that villains are always the more interesting characters. These two initially reminded me of the villains from Home Alone, and then slowly transformed into almost horror-villain levels of violent.

Carl especially shows a shift in character as the job that Jerry paid him and Gaear to do slowly gets more and more out of hand. He goes from a man who seems to be willing to do dirty business for money but who still ultimately has his own boundaries that he won’t cross (including murder) due to his general nervousness and lack of confidence into someone who later shoots a full pistol round into Barbara’s father because of what he has gone through for the sake of getting his money. He goes from a somewhat reasonable hire-able criminal to a violent, aggressive man who’s fear drives him to desperation and survival instinct. 

Gaear, while clearly a more ruthless and cold criminal from the get go, kills multiple people across the span of the movie to keep himself out of trouble and even just away from inconvenience. He is the one to kill the cop that originally pulls them over and chases down the couple that spot them in the process; he (it is implied) kill Jerry’s wife because she was being too loud; and eventually he kills Carl in an attempt to get all of the reward money. Everything that he does further proves that he is a man who will do quite literally whatever it takes to get his way. 

The only other 2 characters that we see significantly affected by the plot are Jerry and Jean. Jerry was an interesting character to watch evolve throughout the film because he portrays a certain image throughout the movie of a man who does not believe that he has done anything wrong– only that his perfectly thought out plot is quickly getting away from him. Though he always plays up the image of a good family man, someone who is only trying his best to do his job, further his prospects, and support his family, he continually responds to the plot in ways that make it clear he is only looking out for himself, especially after things start going wrong. Around every bend, we never see Jerry in fear about what is happening to his wife, and for a period of time he even forgets that he has a son. He spends the entire move, even as things are getting out of his control, trying to get the money from his father-in-law so that he can go on to achieve the lot that he wants. Every realization or moment of pause we see him come to is only ever him trying to find ways to keep things from blowing up even more and to get himself out of the line of fire. He doesn’t try to call off the hit because he’s worried for his wife, but because he thinks he may be getting the money regardless; he only remembers to check on his son because he is reminded to; he talks to Jean because he knows that she’ll be more suspicious of him if he doesn’t; and in the end of the movie, he abandons his son and tries to run away to escape persecution. Jerry may be nonconfrontational, but he’s conniving.

Jean is one who also is a little less obvious in her shift in character from the unfolding events of the plot. We discussed her big moment of evolution partly in class, but she starts the movie as a very trusting and friendly woman. Though she is cold and near unaffected in the face of death and tragedy, to the living she is generally patient and polite, but still not afraid to stand her ground and harden her resolve when need be. She seems to be almost unempathetic and taking life at a surface level. But as things go on, we see her hit a point of realization– that people can and will lie. The moment she seems to realize that, she gets hot on Jerry’s case, showing no mercy in questioning him and doubting the things he tells her, following her gut instead of his word. This is the change that eventually leads her to the criminals’ hideout, leaving her the eventual hero of the story.

The plot that drives all of these characters in their different directions is a near perfect fit for Aristotle’s tragedy. We see the plot points filling in in much the same order that he described:

Inciting incident: Jerry making the deal with Carl and Gaear to kidnap his wife

Rising action: Jerry’s wife kidnapped, breaking the news to the family, trying to call off the kidnapping

Reversal: Death of the first 3 people. loss of contact with the criminals, father-in-law getting involved

Growing pity and fear: Seeing Jerry’s wife, son, and father-in-law getting involved and hurt; innocents being killed; Carl reaching desperation

Catharsis: Capture of Gaear and Jerry

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Introducing Me

Hey y’all! My name is Kira Podelco (she/her). I’m 20 yrs old, majoring in English Teaching w/o degree and double minoring in both Spanish and Creative Writing. As you may be able to tell from that information writing and storytelling are a big part of my life and have been since I was young. I started creating my own stories when I was roughly thirteen and ever since then I’ve been seeking out new ways to really bring them to life. I haven’t had a chance to practice much with digital storytelling tools, save for using Twine a few times, so I’m excited to see where this course takes me.

My favorite genres of story are romance and fantasy. I’m a sucker for a well-built romantic story and lets be honest, magic is just really cool. That being said, I’m usually not very picky with what I watch/read/listen to/etc. so long as the story is told well and the characters are well developed. I really adore musicals because even if you don’t see the play or movie, you can still get a good idea of the story from the tone and lyrics of the songs. I have a bit of a harder time with visual media such as movies and shows because I have a hard time sitting still for that long without being physically engaged in something else. Podcasts work very well for me because I can listen to them while playing games, doing homework, etc. However, what I want to learn about most is games and making games, because my younger brother makes his own games and I love watching his work come together and want to be able to better understand what he does. Overall though, I’m just excited to have the chance to learn about how I can use (and how others use) digital media to tell unique stories. Excited to work with you all and to bare witness to your creative styles!

-Kira P.

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