Welcome to the Danger Zone |Week 3

This week we studied the qualities that make up a good story, and what makes stories interesting to audiences. Through all of the assignments, I realized that I kinda got into a bit of a Top Gun Theme since we were assigned an ’80s story to analyze (I chose Top Gun if it isn’t obvious). I had a lot of fun with it and was well challenged the whole way through.

Story Arcs

We covered different ways that a story can go, and what makes a story so popular. In the Shape of Stories by Vonnegut. He gave a lecture on how the plot of a story can be translated into computers via curves. The peaks and dips signifying things like story progression, conflict, climax, etc. Among the different types of curves we typically see in stories, Vonnegut described the story curve that all audiences enjoy. He dubbed it ‘the Cinderella Story’. The protagonist starts off at the bottom and then takes progressive steps up towards the climax–ultimately resulting in a happily ever after.

I replicated this idea by Vonnegut, I found it to be very interesting as to be a great tool to use when thinking of the direction you want your stories to go. Using Top Gun, I determined the arc of the story based on the plot and progression of Maverick’s character throughout the film. (You can read the full article of my descriptions here)

Maverick’s Curve

Hyper Text

Continuing along the thread of storytelling through computers, we read an article about Hypertext and its influences in modern storytelling such as Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch. Personally, I found Hypertext to be extremely confusing, especially when reading examples. There were so many links to other links that it felt like a rabbit hole at times. Using Bandersnatch was a good use of an example nonetheless; it does a great job at encapsulating the main idea of hypertext (that I took away from it) which it means to make the story interactive to its audience.

Bandersnatch, as well as nonlinear videogames, provide an experience where the story changes based on the user/viewer’s choices. One simple choice can branch the story, creating an experience that only a certain percentage of viewers would see; thus creating the desire to view all the outcomes and make the story a more enjoyable experience than it would have been it continued without any external manipulation.

Once I read the full article about Hypertext and compared it to more comprehensive examples such as videogames, I was able to better understand it as a whole. A fellow student, Melody, wrote a very descriptive and comprehensive read on the article that helped me understand it a lot better as well! (You should check it out)

Writing Assignments

This week I did 3 assignments that were rated at 4 stars each, totaling to 12.

The first assignment I did was to write a short story from a nonhuman perspective. I’d done things similar to that for English classes before so I figured I’d take another swing at it by retelling a personal experience I had one early morning but from the perspective of the raccoon (No raccoons were harmed in the making of the story). With my writing style, I tend to over-describe the sense at times; that was something I tried to remain aware of this time around.

My second assignment was a challenge that involved writing a parody poem of a popular poem. I originally wanted to do a poem by Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets whom I read a lot during high school. But I couldn’t think of any topic I could write about using his style. So I browsed the site for other popular poets and came across Mary Elizabeth Frye. I hadn’t heard of her before so I read a few of her poems and immediately gained inspiration from one. At first I wrote it from the perspective of modern gaming, however, we had to have at least 2 of our assignments correlate to the theme; so I went with a classic game from the ’80s: Castlevania.

The last assignment I did I’m not super proud of. It was a lot harder to rewrite an existing movie scene from someone else’s characters point of view. I had never done it before, even when writing fanfictions (I wrote a lot of fanfictions). But taking someone else’s fleshed out character who you’ve only seen on a screen, not even in a novel, is a lot harder. Typically in film, secondary characters are very two dimensional versus novels where even a side character has enough depth to where the reader can easily interpret and build a strong connection to a character–even one they may not like, a reaction is a reaction. I feel like if it was a literary scene it’d be a lot easier to do, or even a television show where you’d have more time with the characters before it would end. Though I guess that’s what made this assignment 4-stars.

Daily Creates

I did 3 daily creates this week, all of which were a lot of fun to work with.

Keeping with my Red Panda theme!

My first one was to make a retro-style poster and share it. Simple enough. I had a lot of fun making this since I could use a bunch of photo editing and manipulation to make it how I wanted. The main software I used to make this poster (as well as edit my graffiti photo) was Pixlr.com. It’s free to use and is very easy to get the hang of.

Art in Japan

The second was to share a photo of wall art of graffiti found in my area. I, unfortunately, did not have enough free time to walk around town, but luckily I recalled my old Instagram profile image that I made when I was visiting family over summer 2018. My uncle had invited me to stay with his family for a couple of weeks in Okinawa, Japan before they moved to Florida (we’re a military family). I have always wanted to go to Japan so I jumped at the chance. I took the photo on my first day there when we went out to get lunch. The whole water wall was full of art and it was very colorful. I know sometimes street art can be tasteless or crass, but the art I saw on that wall was simply art. Some of it was in Japanese so they may have been using foul language but I wouldn’t have known. I ended up taking a picture on the wall above one that kept catching my eye the whole time I was there. It was just so visually appealing.

Lastly, for my third daily, I used a program that displayed any input from the user into a letter format that the Press Secretary of the U.S. would use to really any urgent information the President needed to share (messaged from the President to everyone else). I thought it was funny that the example on the daily create site incorporated language that the current president uses, and so I figured it’d be fun to try and mimic him while making it ds106 related.