Storytelling in the Digital Age

instructor Jennie Chamberlain, MFA

Learning through critical thinking & making.

How can you use storytelling as a creative strategy in the digital age?

Discover the power of storytelling across various media forms.

Investigate how we are hardwired to create and engage with story, what elements are fundamental to storytelling, and how media form impacts how we interact with content.

Put theory into practice. Deepen your understanding of theme, character, situation, plot and structure. Develop your unique voice. Discover the strengths and challenges of creating through different media. Hone your ability to engage, create experiences, and provoke emotional resonance.

In a final project, students will push the boundaries of storytelling and content creation to develop a concept pitch for an emergent media project of their own design.

This is an active learning class. Students will be asked to produce and share multiple creative projects, critical reading responses, new ideas and research, as well as participate in in class activities and discussions, online discussion groups, and thoughtful peer review.

No prior technology or creative writing skills are necessary to begin this experiment with story creation, other than an appetite to learn and explore new things. In this class students will use TYPED WORDS, STILL IMAGERY, INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING APPLICATIONS, MOVING IMAGERY, SOUND AND VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE, and GRAPHICS PRESENTATION SOFTWARE to experiment and effectively convey their ideas.

Thoughts on Story

What about story is important to you? Based on examples/clips that resonate with you, why do you think these stories work? Share examples with the class with a few sentences explaining how these story examples work for you. Aim to have at least one “unusual” example, that perhaps does not fit what people might traditionally think of as a story. How can you define and differentiate between story, narrative, theme and plot?


Required Readings:

  1. Syllabus - FS44 Theory Meets Practice: Storytelling in the Digital Age

  2. Why are we the Storytelling Animal (preview) (1:40 min)

  3. Gottschall discussion (17:24 min)

  4. David Bordwell, Poetics of Cinema, Three Dimensions of Film Narrative, p 1-5, p14-21, p27-42

  5. Kendall Haven, Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story, Chapter 2 p11-20

Recommended Readings:

  1. Jonathon Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal

  2. (Jonathan Gottschall, The StoryTelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. 232 pages.) Review by: Marisa Bortolussi, University of Alberta. P1-4

Story Slogans by FS 44 Fall 2019 Section

What is story?

What role do stories and media play in shaping our culture?

What makes story effective?

How does media form impact content?

How can we use story as a creative strategy in the digital age?

Story Creation

Create a short story based on a concrete theme. Brainstorm story ideas. Pitch a theme(s) and story outline orally to classmates to see what is working. Create a story visually using a 10 picture series (photos/drawings/reference tears) to visually tell your story, or draft a short story (1000-2000 words), building your story arc, articulating where your story starts, what obstacles / challenges / puzzles / experiences will be presented and where it will end. Your story should reflect your chosen theme. Would your story work better with multiple endings? or is it more satisfying with one ending?


  1. Required Readings

  2. David Howard and Edward Mabley, Tools of the Screenwriting, A Writer’s Guide to the Craft and Elements of a Screenplay, p21-97

  3. Kendall Haven, Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story, Excerpt fromChapter 4, p32-44

  4. Lisa Cron, Wired for Story, p23-44

  5. Brene Brown, TED Talk, Vulnerability (20 min) (Links to an external site.)

  6. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story (20 min) (Links to an external site.)

  7. Student Story Examples (posted on Canvas)

Creating a story

We all have an idea of what makes a good story. But how does your thinking change when you put words on a page? create characters? themes? plots? narratives?

How will you create distinct stories and compelling experiences?

What makes stories engage and resonate?

What role does your reader play in bringing meaning to your story?

Workshopping your story starts to paint a picture of how a story is brought into existence.

Draft Stories created by FS 44 Students

Gaysper the Homophobic Ghost

by Janine Sun
Theme: In this story, I wanted to explore identity, fear, maternal love, first love, and the courage it takes to be yourself.
The first time Matty suspected that the ghost in his house might be homophobic, he had just come out to his mom over dinner. Freshly fourteen years old and nervous as hell, knee bouncing up and down uncontrollably under the worn mahogany table, he had finally, finallymustered up the courage to tell his mom explicitly what she had likely long suspected. And, of course, just as he’d gotten out the painstakingly prepared words, an enormous gust of wind slammed the door open with a bang, turned left into the kitchen, and scattered a hefty pile of leaves and twigs all over their barely-eaten meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Matty had been watching his mother’s expression intently, searching for a reaction to his declaration, but the wind had blown leaf bits into his eyes, and he couldn’t see a thing through the involuntary tears.
By the time Matty’s vision cleared, his mother had already pushed back her chair, stood up, and was walking over to his side of the table, eyes unaffected thanks to the pair of glasses resting on her nose.“I already knew that, honey, but thank you for telling me. I love you just the same,” she assured him, wrapping thin arms around his shoulders and pulling him close. “Too bad about dinner, though; we’d just started eating. That damn ghost always has the worst timing. You know, he made all the lights go out when you were about seven, and you told me you had a crush on that boy Aiden from school.”
Matty blushed furiously. He couldn’t remember telling his mom anything of the sort, which was embarrassing enough, but to make matters worse, he still thought Aiden was cute. They were in eighth grade English class together, and Aiden had a spectacular smile, dainty freckles, and a singular dimple— Matty’s ultimate weakness. As Matty struggled to mentally force his face to return to its normal color, his mother’s ghost-related comments got him thinking. He began to build a hypothesis that the ghost in his house must be homophobic. There was so much evidence he hadn’t connected before. It made no sense otherwise.
Matty and his mom lived in a gorgeous (albeit small) antebellum house in Georgia that his mother had purchased after the divorce ten years ago. The previous owners had sold it to her ridiculously cheap, warning her that, sure, the house needed a lot of work, that was one thing, but the main thing was that it was haunted. His mom had laughed, arranged for the down payment, and hired a contractor.
Sure enough, the previous owners were right: the house was indeed haunted. But after spending quite a lot of time and money on the renovation, Matty’s mom simply refused to move out. So, Matty grew up alongside a ghost— a ghost with a very distinct personality. Atop the standard haunting behaviors (cold areas around the house, inexplicable drafts, doors opening and shutting on their own, random knocking sounds, etc.), this ghost seemed to react positively and negatively to certain things Matty or his mom did. For instance, whenever Matty’s mom baked cookies, all the lights in the house would turn on, as though the ghost was delighted. On the contrary, every time Matty’s mother tried to make Brussels sprouts, the ghost would lock the oven door mid-roast and crank the temperature way up, ensuring that they were rendered completely inedible. Matty’s mother eventually gave up on ever making Brussels sprouts. (Matty was secretly overjoyed.)
After the whole coming-out debacle, Matty thought back to past experiences with the ghost, looking for evidence to support his newfound theory that the ghost might in fact be homophobic. His mind immediately went to his less-than-typical experiences attempting to watch, er… adult movies.The first time he’d ever looked for videos featuring two men, he’d been lying in bed comfortably, when a series of overwhelmingly loud knocking sounds burst from the other side of his wall, startling him so much that he’d dropped his phone on his face rather painfully. He’d gone downstairs to get ice for his nose and given up on sexual exploration for the night.
The second time he’d searched for gay porn, his mom wasn’t home, and he’d decided to sit upright so as to avoid any facial injuries. The vigorous knocking sounds started up again almost immediately. He got up and knocked back as hard as he could, hoping the ghost would get the message and leave him alone in this obviously private time, but the knocking didn’t stop. Matty ended up knocking back for ten minutes until his knuckles were red and swollen, after which he’d gone downstairs to get ice for his hand and given up on sexual exploration again.In preparation for the third time, Matty had saved up allowance money and purchased noise-cancelling headphones in advance. He’d largely forgotten about the porn-inspired knocking since then, until the night he’d come out to his mother and devised his homophobic ghost hypothesis.
As Matty got older, stumbled his way through puberty, and started high school, life got tougher overall, and it didn’t help that the ghost seemed to create new evidence to support his theory at every turn. Sometimes, Matty got bullied at school for being gay, usually by testosterone-laden, toxic masculinity machismo types. But then, when he went home, he got to get bullied some more for being gay by some disapproving, door-slamming, wall-knocking dead guy. He wasn’t allowed to be himself anywhere, it felt like.
One day in freshman year, some jerk at school had body-checked Matty into a locker after classes had ended, hissing “faggot” into his ear with impressive venom. Matty had sighed and headed home, hoping to get some ice for the bruises he could feel forming on his shoulder and the side of his face. (Ice seems to be a recurring motif here.) He’d just barely pressed down on the ice-dispensing lever on the front of his refrigerator when a shower of ice cubes came rushing out of the fridge, spilling all over the floor. Matty spent half an hour chasing cubes and cleaning the kitchen after that. He ultimately settled for a bag of frozen peas on his shoulder and frozen corn on his face, since the ice was fresh out and long since melted in the kitchen sink.In sophomore year, Matty and Aiden were in biology class together, and Matty was utterly enamored. (He swore that lone dimple would be the death of him.) In a fit of pure luck, they’d been assigned to be lab partners, and Matty finally, finally got Aiden’s phone number, those ten beautiful digits giving him the sweetest taste of victory he’d ever experienced. The two had started off texting about class-related stuff, but their relationship soon morphed into genuine friendship. Aiden was so goddamn nice. Matty was so in love fucked.
By spring semester, Matty and Aiden texted every day, and even called each other sometimes after school when they were bored. They hadn’t hung out in person yet; Matty had his friends, and Aiden had his, but Matty was fairly certain it would happen soon. One day, during an impromptu after school phone conversation, Matty finally mustered up the courage to say something flirtatious, praying to God, Jesus, Buddha, Vishnu, whoever was listening that it would go well. He never got to hear Aiden’s response, though, because his signal cut out just as Aiden started to reply. Matty’s deodorant fell off his dresser, as though the ghost was punctuating his sentence.Matty headed for the wooded clearing behind his house and called Aiden back. Courageously, he flirted some more. Aiden flirted back.
Matty’s heart nearly stopped. The stars aligned, imploded, then exploded. Mountains inverted into valleys, and vice versa. He felt like he was in zero gravity, stomach thick with butterflies. He made sure to always go to the clearing out back when he talked to Aiden, where the ghost couldn’t interfere.
The two started hanging out in person, going to the movies, or studying together, or talking over coffee at a local café. Sometimes their hands would touch and Matty thought he’d short-circuited each time it happened. They hadn’t been to each other’s houses yet, but encouraged by his previously successful showing of bravery, Matty decided to broach the subject, inviting Aiden over to his house after school one day when his mom was still at work. Aiden agreed. Matty almost shit himself.It all came to a head that day in May, when Aiden visited Matty’s house for the first time. One thing led to another, and the two shared their first kiss. Matty burst into uncontrollable crying laughter for a good ten minutes afterward. Aiden had worried, but Matty assured him it was all because of happiness. He had waited so long. When he’d calmed down, Matty headed down the hall to rinse his tear-tracked face, still giddy, but when he’d come back, Aiden had already been hastily tugging his jacket back on.
“What are you doing?” Matty had asked, confused and not just a little bit hurt.
“Matty, your house is, like, super haunted, I swear. This ghost just appeared and threatened me!” Aiden demonstrated, sliding a finger across his throat. “We have to get out of here, let’s go to mine. My parents aren’t home either. Come on.” Aiden grabbed Matty’s hand, dragged him down the stairs, out the door, and towards his house.
Matty was sixteen now, almost finished with sophomore year, with a cute boyfriend (? relationship status unclear but he was hopeful), and had borne with the ghost’s abuse for two years already. He resolved to pick up a Ouija board on the way home from Aiden’s, and finally talk to the asshole that had given him hell for so long.After a great afternoon at Aiden’s, Matty stopped by a local secondhand goods store, where he’d seen a Ouija board displayed in the window. Box in hand and ten bucks lighter, he headed home, trudged up the stairs, and plopped onto the floor, feeling a bit silly but determined nonetheless.
He took out the letter-covered board and the planchette, carefully placing it in front of him, before clearing his throat and speaking to the empty room.
“Hey, ghost guy. I know you’re there. You’ve been messing with me for years. And my mom. It’s not exactly subtle.”
No response.
“Come on, I just want to talk. I know you hate me ‘cause I’m gay, but you can at least talk to me. It’s not contagious.” Matty wrinkled his nose in frustration, nudging the board slightly.
One of Matty’s school notebooks and a pen fell from his desk onto the floor in front of him, a gust of wind flipping through until it reached a blank page.
“You want me to write down what you’re saying?”
The planchette moved to YES.
“Okay,” Matty agreed, uncapping his pen and positioning it above the page, ready to finally get some answers.
I-W-A-S-A-H-O-M-O-S-E-X-U-A-L, the planchette spelled out.
What?!” Matty spluttered, shocked. “No way. All this bullshit only makes sense if you’re homophobic.”
The room got a few degrees colder. The planchette began moving again, and Matty carefully logged each letter.
“This is depressing,” Matty commented. “I’m sorry that happened to you. That really sucks. But it still doesn’t explain everything you did. Like the ice avalanche. Or the porn knocking. Or scaring Aiden today.”
“Wait. Are you serious?”
The planchette stayed firmly planted on top of YES.
Matty sighed. “Wow, you’re really behind on the times. I know you’ve probably been dead for ages, but it’s not like you can’t keep up with the news, you know. Things are different now,” Matty explained. “Gay marriage is legal. People come out all the time. It’s still not easy being gay, I get bullied sometimes, and people definitely judge, but I won’t get lynched for it or anything. At least, I hope not.”I-A-M-S-O-R-R-Y
“No, it’s not your fault. You didn’t know, and it’s not like you had bad intentions. Some of the blame is on me. I should have thought to talk to you ages ago. I just assumed you were some dead old bigot. I’m sorry, too. What a silly miscommunication. We could have cleared this up ages ago.”
The planchette slid across the board again, spelling out I-A-M-S-O-R-R-Y one more time before going still. The room warmed up again, and Matty assumed the ghost had gone off to some other room in the house.After that day, the ghost never gave Matty trouble again, though he was still present around the house. Sometimes, when Matty came home late, all the lights in the house would turn on as he turned onto his street, beckoning him home. Other times, when he was sure he’d left his room a mess, he’d return to a neatly made bed, one edge of the covers turned down in welcome. He even brought Aiden around again, promising the ghost had been dealt with, and they never had any more problems with cellular service, either.
As time passed, Matty started to think that the chilly drafts around the house actually felt quite warm.

The Road Less Traveled

by TJ Simpson
A coming-of-age tale on a journey from the inner city to the Ivy League
Nestled in the woods of New York’s Hudson Valley is the prestigious Rockefeller University, an institution with the world’s richest and most successful alumni network. With a 4% acceptance rate and average postgraduate salary of $90,000, Rockefeller was on any young scholar’s list of dream schools. For Winston “Winnie” Perriman, that dream would become a reality. The young academic weapon boasted an impressive high school resume: senior class president, captain of the football team, national honors society, youth ministry leader of his church, and valedictorian of his class. To the residents of Robin Hood, Winnie Perriman was the neighborhood hero. Everyone knew he would be the one to make it out of Miami and bring back change and prosperity to the inner city. And Winnie had every intention to live up to these expectations.
Despite Winnie’s success within football, his lack of size was a major roadblock in his recruiting process. Standing at a mere 5’7 155 pounds, Winnie was not your prototypical D1 athlete. With only a few offers from Division 2 schools in the south, Winnie knew his academics would play a more important role in getting him where he wanted to be. Based on his academic success, Winnie was able to earn a full ride to all the public universities in Florida. But Winnie Perriman had his sights set beyond the sunshine state. Although it seemed like a reach, going to Rockefeller was Winnie’s academic dream. Admittance to such a school would be his golden ticket.
Upon being accepted to one of the world’s best universities, Winnie Perriman was on top of the world. He was now in position to fulfill and exceed the hopes and dreams everyone had for him. Winnie Perriman was the pride and joy of Miami’s Robin Hood. Despite the admiration he received from his peers, Winnie’s feat was not met with the same excitement at home. Darcy Perriman has always been Winnie’s number one fan. With Winnie’s father out of the picture and him being an only child, the mother-son duo have a bond that is unbreakable. In order to avoid the struggles she faced growing up in Miami, Darcy always pushed Winnie to be the best version of himself. But the thought of separation by 1000 miles did not sit well with Darcy. She had no intentions of holding her son back, but struggled to let him go into the real world all alone.
“You know I wants what’s best for you, but can you at least consider all of your options? What’s wrong with UF or FAMU? A lot of successful people have come from those places”.
“I know mama, but I can’t pass this up. This will be life changing for us, just trust me.”
With time, Darcy was more at ease with her baby boy venturing far away from the nest. She would miss him dearly, but had faith that things would be alright for Winnie. In the long run, Rockefeller was a decision that could pay off for Winnie, Darcy, and generations to come.
It is now the middle of August, only a couple of weeks away from the beginning of Winston Perriman’s collegiate journey. Darcy saved up enough funds fly with Winnie to get him settled in. They take a direct flight into LaGuardia Airport, from where a coach bus will take them to the campus. After a two hour bus ride, Winnie and Darcy arrive in Monticello, NY, home of the illustrious Rockefeller University. Upon arriving on campus, the mother and son are in total awe. The scenery is nothing like the busy streets of Miami. The towering green mountains and turning of the leaves were a sight unique to the woods of the Hudson Valley. It was love at first sight for Winnie, as he looked forward to building a new life at Rockefeller for the next four years.
After helping Winnie get comfortable in his new living space, it was time Darcy to head back home. “I’m so proud of you Winnie, and I will miss you deeply. I won’t be able to visit you as much I would like, so don’t forget about your mama while you’re up here. I’m only a phone call away. Love you son.” The two embrace one last time before they are separated for the next few months. While Winnie will miss his mama deeply, the anticipation of what college has to offer outweighs his homesickness. Darcy departs on the coach back to LaGuardia, and now Winnie is officially on his own. Orientation is done, and the first day of classes is tomorrow morning. Winnie is more anxious than he’s ever been. His stomach is filled with butterflies as he pictures what the first day will be like. His nerves are at an all time high, but in a good way. Similar to the feeling of riding a roller coaster for the first time. But nonetheless, Winnie is nervous about the first day of school. To calm his nerves, he hits up his friends back home on a group video call. Everyone else is already two weeks into classes. His buddies Sheldon and Marcus are both at Florida A&M, while Darron and Terryl are at FSU and UF respectively. They tell Winnie of all the exciting moments within such a short span of time. Their opening week of classes are filled with parties each day, and the workload thus far for them is much lighter than they anticipated. “College seeming a lot easier than I thought it would be” Darron explains. “No attendance rules, no real homework, no more school lunch, and hella free time.” Winnie figures this laid back experience wouldn’t be the case for him, but he could at least enjoy the free will of adulthood. “Don’t worry Winnie, you will be just fine” assures Sheldon. “You are the smartest guy we know, this was meant for you. Everything is gonna fall into place.” With encouragement from his buddies back home, Winnie is now ready for what’s in store tomorrow.
The first day of classes have arrived. Winston Perriman is officially a freshman at The Rockefeller University. He posts a pic to Instagram to archive this monumental day, met with much praise in the comments from his friends and family. As he walks to his first class, he struggles to restrain the huge grin across his face. From the inner city to the Ivy League, an accomplishment not many people can attest to.
Winnie’s first class of the day was Calculus with Prof. Stanley Reynolds. For Winnie, calculus was a subject he excelled in during high school. With two years of AP calc under his belt, Winnie figured he was ahead of the game. But sooner than later, life at Rockefeller would be much less glamorous than Winnie imagined. After a brief introduction and run down of the syllabus, Prof. Reynolds went full throttle with the curriculum. He ran through the notes at an alarming rate, in which Winnie struggled to keep up. For possibly the first time ever, Winston Perriman felt overwhelmed in a classroom. The professor rarely took time to answer any questions as he flew through the opening day of coursework. By the end of the class, Winnie knew he was in for a rough term. Everything he learned in the past two years of AP Calc was covered in the very first day college! What else could there be to learn?
The rest of Winston’s classes were demanding as well, but at least easier than calculus. He was enrolled in Earth Sciences, African Diaspora Studies, and Modern Literature. As he predicted before the year started, the term wasn’t gonna be easy. To Winnie’s dismay, school would be much harder than he was mentally prepared for.By the end of the term, Winnie’s dream school became his worst nightmare. Any bit enthusiasm he had for Rockefeller developed into regret and homesickness. For the first time ever, Winnie was struggling academically. Although his grades weren’t terrible, there were by no means up to his standards. He worked harder than ever before just to finish with a 2.8 GPA. That calculus class was the bane of his existence, as he passed by the skin of his teeth. Outside of the books, Winnie had a hard time getting acclimated to his new environment. Outside of his floormates in the dorm, Winnie struggled to meet new people. Unlike his hometown, Rockefeller was a predominantly white space. For his entire life, Winnie encountered mostly black and hispanic people, making it difficult to step out of his comfort zone. The few white people he knew were the teachers from his school, who only landed there because of Teach for America. As Winnie’s grandmother would say, he was one of the “flies in the buttermilk.” While there were black people on campus, many of them happen to be athletes who Winnie would rarely cross paths with. As far as the weekends, Winnie barely left his room. If he wasn’t doing studying and writing papers, he would be in his dorm watching Youtube videos. He tried stepping out for one weekend, which left his disappointed. He struggled to navigate through the crowded frat basements, full of belligerent drunks and painfully loud pop music. Talking to his friends back home made it even worse, as they recounted nothing but glorious weekend tales. The bright spot of that term might have been the dining hall, which was some of the best food he’d tasted outside of his mama’s cooking. There were more than enough food options, and the wide variety of desserts was truly the icing on the cake. But outside of the comfort food in the dining hall, Rockefeller got the best of young Winston Perriman.
When Winnie arrived back home for winter break, it was like being released from purgatory. His spirit felt renewed when he stepped foot out of the Miami airport. He was finally back in his natural habitat. Throughout the term, he vented to his mother about how difficult the term was, and how he could of stayed in Florida for school and been better off. With no college experience on her hands, Darcy couldn’t imagine how hard this first year must’ve been for Winnie. But she wouldn’t let him drown in his own sorrows. She encouraged him as much as she could, ensuring that he was more than capable of success in this new space. Winnie enjoyed every minute of being home, as he knew the term ahead of him was going to be a long one.
After a few weeks home it was back to the grind for Winston Perriman. With one term under his belt, he a little more prepared for school than the last time around. But it would now be Winston’s first winter in the north, and he would have no idea what he was in for.
When arriving back on campus, the visual of Monticello covered in snow was a mindblowing site for Winnie. The young Floridian had never seen snow in person. His only ideas of a northern winter were formed the fantasized TV images of building snowmen and snowball fights. But Winnie’s feelings of awe would soon turn to anguish, as the constant wind chill made his bones feel brittle. At that point, the idea of hell being made of ice rather than fire was felt reasonable to Winnie. The thought of people growing up in this type of climate was mind boggling. And with the unideal weather came seasonal depression for young Winston. Any visions he had of what Rockefeller had to offer were being torn apart. Nothing but pain and suffering could be attributed to this place. The cold weather made it near impossible for Winnie to even make it out of bed. The constant trek to class through the snow covered walkways made his legs burn. And with no car, it was nearly impossible for Winnie to leave campus for a breath of fresh air. The cold also took a toll on his health, as he developed an upper respiratory infection a few weeks into the term. There were days where Winnie would sit in his room and weep. “What has my life come to?” From being the smartest and most beloved figure at his high school, to being just another face in the mix of an environment filled with struggle. But with his mother, friends, and family in mind, Wiston Perriman knew he was at a point of no return. He had to weather the storm and find his way back to prosperity.The Road Less TraveledAlthough his grades did improve, the winter term was not a prosperous time for Winnie. He managed to make it out alive, but you couldn’t pay Winnie any amount of money to relive that terrible dream. But fortunately for Winnie, the spring time would prove to be a turning point in his collegiate journey.After the arctic tundra that passed through Monticello, the Hudson Valley started to feel a little more like home for the young Floridian. The sun was finally out again, and Winnie could finally ditch the puffy jackets and hand mittens. As far as classes, the workload started to feel more manageable for Winnie. He started to feel like an academic weapon again. Aside from school, Winnie’s social life would make a full 360 that spring. After gaining his footing in the classroom, Winston knew it was time to step outside of his shell and get acquainted with his schoolmates. He searched his school email for new clubs to join. He made efforts to hang out with the folks in his dorm. And as time went on, he crossed paths with many of the black people on campus. Although the frats where still a shithole, Winnie would find social spaces where he felt comfortable at. After joining the Black Student Union and Social Impact Society, Winnie was now surrounded by diverse and relatable group of friends. The sorrows he faced in the terms prior were no longer an issue. The social life of Rockefeller would not live up to the hype of the state schools back home, but Winnie finally felt at ease in his new environment. Any sort of doubt he had for himself dissipated. The future was finally looking bright again After hitting rock bottom in the winter term, the only way was up for Winston Perriman.

Heist School

by James F. Cronin
Theme: Hollywood action movies are very similar and it’s not a boring plot that makes them boring, it’s bad action.
Heist School is my idea for a satirical comedy/action film on the similarities and outrageous nature of a lot of Hollywood action movies. I want it to simultaneously poke fun at the genre as well as be a great example of a good movie in the genre. I want it to include as many tropes as possible as well as well-thought out, highly choreographed action scenes (obviously, this part is outside the realm of purely story but imagine John Wick level choreography).
A brief summary of the movie – Rex “Stonewall” Storm and his group of outcasts decide to stick it to the evil Principal Vladimof one more time before graduating by stealing the answer key to the SATs and distributing it among the student population of America. Our protagonist is Rex. He’s a senior in high school and he is your stereotypical cool, badass high school movie protagonist (pretty similar to Chris Evans’ character from Not Another Teen Movie). In alignment with that fact, he is also going to be played by someone in his early 30’s who looks nothing like a high schooler (almost all other characters will be played by actual high schoolers to highlight this). Obviously, because of the events of the movie, he has no aspirations whatsoever for life after high school (he will constantly mention how high school is the best four years of anyone’s life).
His best friend is a junior named Robin Goodman. Robin is being recruited to play baseball for Syracuse. Robin’s main moment to shine will be later on in the movie when he “dies.” He won’t actually die but will instead be expelled as a result of his shenanigans and lose his scholarship (he’ll probably have some kind of “self-sacrifice” scene). His “death” will be treated as if he actually died and I’m imagining right now that the scene will be very similar to the one in Tropic Thunder where Ben Stiller and RDJ are shooting a scene where Ben Stiller’s character dies.
Heist School takes place in Eggo Presents Alderman High School. The actual school will look like any other you’d see in a movie or tv show on the outside, but on the inside will look and be incredibly dystopian. I imagine that the characters who do not have speaking roles will march through the hallways in outfits like the ones from the 1984 Apple commercial with the lady with sledgehammer while the P.A. announces depressing, dystopian sounding things. Any character who speaks though will be dressed like a normal kid and no one will mention this fact at any point in the movie.
The principal of Eggo Presents Alderman high school is the evil Principal Victor Vladimof. He’s bald, has a scar over one of his eyes, wears an eyepatch on the other one, and is Russian. The reason for that is because Russian baddies were pretty common in 80s action movies. Nowadays, they’re usually from some fictional country in the middle east but I think that would be more offensive and less in line with a lot of the 80s vibes I’m kind of going for (it’s not set in the 80s though). Vladimof is the most two-dimensional villain ever. He hates Rex, fun, and only wants to make things worse for everyone.
Jessica Powers is the main female character and possible love interest for Rex. She’s a new arrival to Alderman, nerdy, and wears glasses… until one point in the movie where she takes them off and has a “makeover” scene where all she does is take off the glasses and everyone acts like she’s a completely different person even though she was already conventionally attractive from the beginning. She’ll also have a sick fight scene where she, to everyone’s surprise, takes down like seven security guards all on her own. When the other characters comment on this, she explains that she can fight because “I have older brothers.” She will not be amused by Rex.
There are a multitude of characters I’d like to include who aren’t as fleshed out right now. For one, there has to be a hacker character who can hack into literally anything by typing at a black screen of scrolling green text and saying “I’m in.” He’ll probably be played by an Indian actor, not because of any preconceived notions of where I think people who are good with computers are from, but because that’s the Hollywood stereotype and this is a satire. There also will be a Malfoy type character named Thadwick “Chazz” Oglethorpe who’s rich, smarmy, has two goons both named Bert and who will be a lesser antagonist. Thadwick has golden blonde hair, only wears polos with the collars up, and has daddy issues. There will likely be a time when Rex will need Thadwick’s help and Thadwick agrees but backs out at a pivotal moment and betrays Rex to Principal Vladimof. One of the characters will also be the voice of reason and comment on the ridiculous nature of what’s going on, but no one will listen to him.
As far as plot goes, I’m sure you can guess at this point that I don’t have a concrete, fully fleshed out one yet, but I’ve listed most of the important bits and gimmicks I’d like to include. I guess there’s no real deeper theme than what I put at the top of the first page, but I want to make something that is not only thoroughly entertaining, but that’s also a passionate homage to my love for action movies. Plot itself isn’t all that important in action movies anyway (at least to me). It’s mostly about the visual spectacle and the choreography of the fight scenes. John Wick’s plot is basically just “a man mourns the passing of his dog,” and The Raid’s is “they raid a building.” Some of the action scenes I’d like to include would be a hallway fight scene (like Oldboy) but against hall-pass demanding security guards, a fight against a group of teachers “playing hooky” and smoking cigarettes by the playground where they act like ninjas and maneuver around the play structure as such, and a food fight which starts with them throwing food but escalates to everyone shooting at each other. Everyone has a gun yet mostly fights hand-to-hand for some nonsensical reason, some people have nunchakus, etc… Just outrageous goodness that’s executed well (which again is outside the realm of what I’m able to do in class).


by Arielle Isedenu
Setup – The water in the main character’s house is enabling her to see visions of her life on Earth with her partner. But when she sees these visions, she has no recollection of who the woman is to her. She just feels that she knows this woman.
The sketch is a guideline for the visuals given
The first part of the trifold coincides with the first 2 media visuals
The drawing sets the scene of the main character being in the bathroom and when she brushes her teeth the water she begins to have a faint vision of a women who is at a doctors office
The second part of the trifold coincides with media visuals page 3 and 4
The main character has gotten water from the kitchen and while drinking a cup sees a full-on vision of a women she recognizes in the doctors’ office/ hospital
Another possible interpretation is that she is driving drinks from her water bottle gets this vision and rushes home the living room
The last part of the trifold coincides with the 5th media visual and the 6th media visual is a possible end of the scene where the main character goes to the local hospital in pursuit of finding the woman after checking the pictures in her album and seeing all of them blank or without any persons but herself.
The main character rushes to the living room in the 3rd part of the trifold after her vision in the kitchen and tries to find memories of her with this woman but all of the pictures with her are blank
trifold image references

Story of Aleia

by Mars Alvarez
THEME: Be careful what you wish for, and only accept the responsibilities you can handle.
There once was a baby girl whose very birth stunned the Earth. She was so precious that the instant the atmosphere entered her lungs, the second her body graced the ground, and the moment her eyes met the world around her, the Earth was in love. Never in its existence had nature held such purity, such beauty, such strength and goodness that the Earth knew this baby was going to be the gem of the world. This baby’s name was Aelia.
Although Aelia was human, the Earth had to protect her at all costs. So one day, after her twelfth birthday, the Earth lured the little beauty to a sacred waterfall it had carved inside a cavern just for her. The Earth sent out a sprite to guide her over the mountains and through the forest to the hidden sanctuary, and it is rumored that the trees mimicked their leaves after the auburn color of her hair and the grass turned the same hazel hue as her striking irises as she passed by them. When Aelia finally reached the destination, the Earth confessed to her. “My dearest Aelia—my beautiful, sweet child of man and woman—I welcome you to my greatest creation yet, established exclusively for you.”
“O magnificent Earth, I am inexplicably flattered, but I must ask: of all children, why have you called for me? I am not worthy.”“It is not I who hath chosen you. With the fruition of your soul on my being, my core and spirit is revived. My sweet muse, O how you may never know the imminence of your heartbeat! You must hear, however, how the fragility of your mortality unsettles me greatly. Losing you, my beloved, would ruin me to emptiness. How may I wake without the face of my beaming Aelia? How may I thrive when there’s no you to thrive for? For this, I beg: be with me. Become one of me and let us flourish together in harmony and joy for eternity!”
Young Aelia was overwhelmed with emotions of happiness and despair, flattery and confusion. How she loved the Earth yet how she loved her humanity. She was torn until she recalled the Earth’s threat of deteriorating from her death, and she suddenly felt obligated to her fellow race of Earthlings to protect the world. Thus, she accepted the proposal.
The actual task to becoming an entity, though, proved to be unfortunately gruelling, for Aelia had to drown seven times, then be resuscitated each time by the winds of the cavern until finally on the eighth attempt would she become a demigoddess. However, Earth, blinded by passion, didn’t realize the immensity of what they were trying to accomplish, for Aelia was still human, and all humans must experience Death as well.
Aelia’s birth not only got the Earth’s attention, for Death was struck as well by her being and had fallen in love too, and seeing what the Earth was trying to do angered Death. Feeling cheated, Death interrupted Earth on the final resurrection. “Her life may belong to you, but her eternity is mine,” they said. “And besides, what you are attempting is just impossible. A human cannot become anything more than a human.”
Regardless, Death was too late, and the Earth was unsuccessful. Aelia’s spirit had been released from her body as it bobbled in the foam of the waterfall.Devastated and terrified that Death would try to capture the beloved Aelia, Earth swiftly engulfed her spirit into its waters and hid her body behind the waterfall. Earth then cunningly devised a reason to forbid Death from taking the marvelous Aelia. “You cannot have her soul, for it was the water that stole her last breath, not you nor I. Therefore, she belongs to the water.”Death knew the battle was lost, but Aelia’s precious soul was still within reach, and luckily Death was as clever as it was patient. “Fine, but the moment she escapes the water, she is mine.”
The Earth agreed and Death returned to its rule of the afterlife. Earth tried desperately to restore Aelia’s soul to her body, but her figure had become one with the water, so Aelia could only emerge through the foam that collected at dusk.
Many years pass, and Aelia’s once lively soul began to grow tired of the confining water, until one night when a young explorer by the name of Lance had discovered the cavern and decided to rest there for the evening. Twilight approached, and as Lance knelt down to the water to drink, Aelia rose from the foam. Initially the traveler was frightened, but after a night’s worth of conversation and basking in her beauty under the moonlight, Lance had also fallen madly in love with her, almost as much as she had with him.
As daylight neared, Aelia feared the awakening of the Earth and its possible wrath towards her newfound lover. So cleverly she came up with an idea to escape the water’s imprisonment. “When morning comes, you must leave without me, for I am bound to the Earth through these waters.”
“I could never,” Lance argued. “I need you.”
“The only escape I have from the Earth is through Death, unless you hold my soul to yourself.”
“Anything, my beloved.”
So, she raised her hand from the water to reveal a beautiful blue stone sitting in her palm. “When the sun rises, my soul will have been encased by this stone. Take it with you when you venture off into life, and I shall be with you. However, do not let this stone break or else my spirit will be released into the unknown, constantly running from Death as an unfinished entity. Prove to me your everlasting love through your vow.”
“You have my word,” Lance replied, and as sunrise hit, he took the stone and left the cavern, bounding towards his home village.
There, Lance waited and waited for the beloved Aelia to return from the stone. He would speak to it nightly, sing to it, but as time went by he began to lose hope. He craved a family and was starting to wonder if Aelia was even real or just a dream. His depleting faith ended in his loss of love for Aelia, and her stone was pushed to the back of his belongings and thoughts as the memory of her faded as well.
Lance soon married a woman by the name of Sera, and one day, while washing his clothes, she had discovered the stone and questioned its origin to Lance. Having forgotten all about it, the man suddenly had a rush of memories and frustration towards the stone and Aelia and threw it against the wall, watching it shatter to the floor. Then to the couple’s surprise, out sprung Aelia’s spirit in full apparition in a wild frenzy. Driven mad with envy and a broken heart, Aelia flooded Lance’s entire village, drowning the town and turning it into a great freshwater lake.
Her spirit was now free, but her soul was still shattered. It’s said that she still roams the land as a goddess of the flood, hiding from Death but leaving blue stones around the world as pieces of her soul, hoping someday she’ll manage to find peace.

She Was the Universe

by Vania Ding
Media: Continuously scrolling platformer video-game
Theme: the danger of losing yourself in another person and in being too distant from others
Blake is a space traveler who arrives on a planet filled with jungles of bright, neon colors. Think 80s aesthetic combined into the natural landscape, lush dark greenery highlighted with unnatural swirls of color. She visually sticks out in her black-and-white spacesuit, which conceals her face.
As the player platforms continuously up, she makes her way to the only man-made structure on the planet: an observational base built into the side of a cliff. She does not take off any part of her spacesuit. Inside, the screen stays stationary and the player is allowed to walk around and explore at will. It is completely devoid of life but is very tidy. Details on photographs, equipment, and knickknacks will hover above the object as Blake passes near them. The base will have a slight puzzle element that will have the player pick up objects that correspond to each other, eventually opening up a new section of the base. When bringing together the objects, the player will learn a few details:
X used to work with a group of interstellar smugglers. This was one of their bases. Everyone was very close and it’s implied they started the group out of a close friendship. She left voluntarily. She doesn’t give any details on why.She recently received a distress signal from the base and came to investigate. She came alone because of the base’s tie to criminal activity. She had a relationship with one of the members, Mara. It is implied to have ended badly. After opening the new section, Blake finds a collection of audiotapes. After the player picks up the tapes, we immediately cut to a title screen: She was the Universe.
Stage 1: “I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,”
Blake now stands at the entrance of the base. The screen scrolls continuously to the right as the first of the tapes plays. They are the logs of the crew members of their time on the planet. As the audio plays, the player will platform through the environment in search of evidence of what happened to her former partners, which will be scattered through the levels. This stage will contain a few levels of canyon-themed area design. After each level, the player appears back at the base with the evidence, which they can review before selecting the next level.
The information on the tapes: The group found the base abandoned after running from interstellar authorities and decided to make it their own. Peter is the leader, Sasha is the pilot, Mara gathers information, and Ricky handles the equipment. There used to be more members but Peter does not offer what happened to them. Blake used to be the researcher and Mara volunteered to take the job after she left.
Each of them mentions how beautiful nature is here and how they need to lay low here to avoid authorities from finding them, only for a few weeks. Peter does not mention Blake at all, Sasha makes an offhand joke about Blake’s “two-faced” attitude, and Ricky describes meeting Blake at their old job in Security. The final tape is Mara’s, who directly addresses it to Blake. She speaks frankly, abrasively with a solid understanding of the group’s emotions. She wishes Blake were here to help her understand the current situation but also says that she’ll never forgive her.
Evidence storyline: Scraps of clothing from each crew member are found, sometimes embedded into the cliffside. Letters and notes about the previous shipment are found, showing that they had not been doing well in keeping the business afloat. Description boxes for objects show that everyone met during their previous employment for a space-travel agency. Blake founded the group with Peter. Peter’s jackknife is found and is able to be equipped by the player.
Stage 2: “men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:”
Levels are now forest/jungle-themed, with the introduction of hidden passageways that can be accessed with the jackknife. Wildlife can also be fended off with the knife.
Tapes: Mara now is the only one who does logs as the other members have become “occupied” with tasks around the base. She recounts when she met Blake and the first big job they did as a team where one of their friends died and they all lost their jobs in the agency. It was a traumatic moment for them where they all swore to protect each other. The relationship between the two of them had blossomed from the realization that they were both alone in the world. Blake had no parents and Mara had been disowned from hers. As beautiful and new the universe was, there had always been areas of deep prejudice and Mara’s sexuality was not welcomed where she came from. She valued how honest Blake was and how they both desperately wanted to belong to something bigger. On the final tape, she questions why Blake had to do what she did and if they will ever see each other again. Again, she says there’s no way to forgive what happened.
Evidence: Continuous mentions of an “extremely large” shipment from the past are mentioned in connection with Blake. Peter’s past notes on Blake’s show a deep distrust and a few details on Blake’s potential betrayal to a rival smuggling group. A keychain with plastic fish is from a past date with Mara. The jungle starts looking like the space agency’s cruise ships, their logo seemingly grown into the bark of the trees. A few bushes seem to imitate the look of sleeping human bodies. Sasha’s grave is found at the final level.
Stage 3: “others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world;”
Levels are set in a dark, pond/swamp area. In later levels, it looks like bright neon koi fish swim in the air. Now a floating mechanic is introduced.
Tapes: Mara continues speaking about their past relationship. They were truly a big family, united by harsh experiences. Smuggling was fine, for a while. Mara and Blake grew closer and Mara talked more about her past trauma in growing up, feeling dehumanized and alone. Blake refused to share information about herself, only mentioning darkness. They go to an anti-gravity aquarium and Blake finally shares some of her backstory, living on a dying planet and having to escape without her family. Mara is noticeably more bitter after the story ends, saying that Blake knows what happened next. In the present day, Mara mentions how strange the other crewmates have been acting. Ricky and Peter have seemed to forget all about leaving the planet. Everyone mentions seeing weird objects when they go on walks. Fighting breaks out in the last tape, interrupting Mara from continuing the story. A struggle is heard as people fight over leaving the planet. Sasha is killed by Peter when she tries to head towards the ship. Mara returns to the tape, silent for a few minutes, and mentions that she didn’t enjoy her death as much as she expected.
Evidence: Blake’s departure is mentioned as a result of a “job gone wrong.” Sasha’s gloves were given to her by Blake. Bright insects form different shapes and logos as the levels continue, all recognizable by Blake. At the final level, the insects form the shape of a human with dragonfly wings. The scrolling stops, Blake collapses on her knees, and she takes off her helmet for the first time. She has a large scar down her face. The level ends as she cries and the insects flutter out of shape.
Stage 4: “no love was left;
All earth was but one thought—and that was death
Immediate and inglorious;”
Levels are now in a cave area. Animals form themselves into human-like shapes which the player must fend off.
Tapes: Mara is colder than before. She describes Blake’s affair with Sasha with harsh objectivity. Her deep feeling of connection, one that she only really shared with Blake, had been violated. She wonders if Blake ever truly loved her. Sasha’s grave is dug by Mara. It is the beginning of the end. The group started to lose money and took on more risky assignments. Arguments between Blake and Peter happened more often. Blake promised a large job. On the day of the job, Blake and Mara got into an argument over their relationship. The authorities found them as they were in transport. Blake revealed that she tipped them off in exchange for amnesty. Peter, enraged, attacked Blake with his knife, leaving a large scar. The authorities eventually broke into the ship and Blake dragged Mara into an escape pod, ejecting her out alone. Mara mentions that it saved her from prison but the feeling of being utterly alone once again consumed her. Once everyone served time, they went back to smuggling on a much lower scale.
In present day, Mara grows increasingly wary of Peter and Ricky, who are becoming even more unstable. Ricky has a breakdown, insisting that he saw Sasha alive in the jungle, and heads in there alone. He never shows up again. Mara hatches a plan to escape by stealing the ship’s keys from Peter. Peter catches on and the two of them fight over staying on the planet. Mara runs down into the caves where she loses Peter but is lost herself. On the final tape, she mentions how she finally understands the beauty of this place but it scares her. People lose themselves here and she hypothesizes that the previous people who abandoned the base may have been seduced into dying here. She has always wanted to belong somewhere. She asks if Blake remembers her wish to be reborn as a dragonfly. The tape ends.
Evidence: No more evidence is collected during this stage but strange combinations of animals frequently attack the player as they continuously head right on the platforms. Extra tapes by Peter and other members can be found, mostly extra information about their interpretation of past events and more explanation on what the planet does to their minds. Finally, Blake does a puzzle to unlock the final segment of the cave system by placing the collection of evidence in the correct chronological order.
Stage 0: “The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.”
A very short segment of a past evening when everyone was still friends. The player can go as they will to talk to each of the crewmembers. However, the evening ends with a final conversation between Mara and Blake. The dialogue tree gives the option of apologizing, explaing, and/or acting as if nothing is wrong. No matter what the player picks, Mara ends up leaving Blake.
Stage 5: “The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.”
Blake enters a large cave clearing. Mara’s voice is echoed through the collective sound of bats, all imitating her voice. She pleads for Blake to not abandon her again. She says that she forgives her. The player is given the choice to stay or leave.
IF STAY: Blake is shown taking off her helmet again. The ground gives way underneath her and the player must platform down towards a faint light. Once she reaches it, she floats next to it as the ground slowly circles her and swallows both of them. The light grows for a brief moment before completely snuffing out.
IF LEAVE: Blake must platform up and out of the cave, eventually reaching the outside and her ship. She must solve a final puzzle to activate her ship, which will involve the well-hidden and extra information in the levels. As she leaves the planet, she looks back, helmet on. A bright dragonfly flitters across the screen.

Commuter Mother

by Madeline Donahue
Theme: I really want to explore this maternal/sisterhood relationship as a board stroke.
Within in that I want to focus on the older girl and really emphasize the immaturity of her and the weight of the responsibility she carries and how ill-prepared she is to do so but is forced to learn the ropes whether she likes it or not.
A premed female student at UC Berkeley on a full academic scholarship is on her way home for the weekend to visit her boyfriend in Los Angeles. A 13-year old girl from Long Beach is taking a bus and running away from home. They both stop in Oxnard, California to get something to eat at the local café. Sitting at the café the two lives collide and they enter one another’s atmospheres.
They spark a connection and return to their respective journeys with the promise to return once again a week later same time same day. The college girl goes home to her boyfriend where he is raising their child. The two are no longer together but the girl returns home every week to spend as much time with the baby until the baby would be old enough to remember her absentee mother. She loves this time with her child but wants her baby’s childhood to be free of doubts of her mother’s whereabouts and wants to have a clear cut no relationship. Every day she creeps closer to the point where she must leave her daughter’s life in order to not complicate things. After having the baby in high school, the boy had decided to defer college and work and raise their child on his own. The girl lives a life without her past in Oakland and doesn't plan on meshing the two.
On the other hand, the young girl from the cafe decides to return home to her family, after their initiate meeting, in Long Beach only to find that nobody has noticed she has been gone all day. She is surrounded by a group of friends whose wealth far exceeds that of her family’s. Because of this, she resents her parents and acts out. Her parents are prideful but poor and her father is usually out working and her mother is hardly around and occasionally gets caught up in drugs and alcohol. She is the youngest of five all under the same roof.
The two girls meet the next week in the same booth of the café and from there are linked. This continues and they become increasingly closer. The older girl continues to deal with the struggles of wanting to pursue a career free of her past but is constantly reminded of her daughter by her new young friend and the young girl looks for nurturing attention from the older girl. After many weeks of this the college girl decides to end the meetings because it is getting to be too much and she needs to distance herself from her aging daughter who will soon recognize her mother’s absence.
The young girl doesn't know if she can return to her life without the college girl there to support her. This whole time the older girl hasn't told the younger girl about her own child. The younger girl, since they are from the same town, takes it upon herself to go find out where the older girl is living. When she does this she finds out the truth about her older friend and confronts her. The younger girl is enraged because she has confided in the older girl about the troubles she has with her own parent’s neglect and can’t believe her friend is doing this to her own child.
On the other hand, the young girl from the cafe decides to return home to her family, after their initiate meeting, in Long Beach only to find that nobody has noticed she has been gone all day. She is surrounded by a group of friends whose wealth far exceeds that of her family’s. Because of this, she resents her parents and acts out. Her parents are prideful but poor and her father is usually out working and her mother is hardly around and occasionally gets caught up in drugs and alcohol. She is the youngest of five all under the same roof.
The two girls meet the next week in the same booth of the café and from there are linked. This continues and they become increasingly closer. The older girl continues to deal with the struggles of wanting to pursue a career free of her past but is constantly reminded of her daughter by her new young friend and the young girl looks for nurturing attention from the older girl. After many weeks of this the college girl decides to end the meetings because it is getting to be too much and she needs to distance herself from her aging daughter who will soon recognize her mother’s absence.
The young girl doesn't know if she can return to her life without the college girl there to support her. This whole time the older girl hasn't told the younger girl about her own child. The younger girl, since they are from the same town, takes it upon herself to go find out where the older girl is living. When she does this she finds out the truth about her older friend and confronts her. The younger girl is enraged because she has confided in the older girl about the troubles she has with her own parent’s neglect and can’t believe her friend is doing this to her own child.
The older girl returns to school and the younger to her family. I have yet to figure out the specifics of the ending but I want there to be build up to the older girl deciding to mesh the two separate lives and bring the baby and boy up to school with her. I also think I want to have some boarding school, art program, live-away program that's a part of Berkeley or nearby that the older girl helps the younger girl get into with a scholarship.

The Hotseat

by Eli Hecht
The theme is embracing uncertainty, and understanding that while honesty should be valued, the truth can be painful.
INT. NOAH'S APARTMENT - NIGHT Three 18 year olds, NOAH, MEGAN and SAMANTHA are celebrating their recent graduation at Noah's apartment.
NOAH Megan's in the hotseat!
SAMANTHA Who are you happiest that you never have to see again from high school?
MEGAN Easy, Tiny Tina.
NOAH When's the last time you cried?
MEGAN OK we're going deep quick. A few weeks ago me and Sam got into a fight but we talked it out and everything's OK now. Megan wraps her arms around Samantha and kisses her on the cheek.
NOAH Gross.
SAMANTHA Noah's in the hotseat! What's your middle name.
NOAH Fuck you. I can't believe you're making me do this. It's Clarence. Happy?
SAMANTHA Oh that's so cute.
NOAH Sam's in the hotseat! You have to kill one of your animals, who do you choose?
SAMANTHA You're horrible. I'd kill one of the cockroaches I feed to Lizzo. NOAH Aw, that doesn't count.
SAMANTHA Next question.
MEGAN What are you getting me for our anniversary next month?
SAMANTHA Ooh you're gonna need to get me drunker to get the answer to that. Unfortunately I'll tell you anything if you get me drunk enough. Hit me Noah.
Noah pours Samantha a shot.
MEGAN Challenge accepted Sam.
Montage of them all drinking more and laughing together. It ends with them all very drunk lying on the floor/couch.
NOAH You guys wanna go out on the fire escape?
SAMANTHA No, it's going to start raining in 7 minutes.
MEGAN Shut up Sam, it's not supposed to rain until tomorrow morning.
NOAH Y'know I'm really gonna miss you guys next year.
MEGAN Don't say that, we're gonna talk all the time.
NOAH (unconvinced) Yeah I guess so. MEGAN (trying to change the mood) Oh I bet Sam's drunk enough that I can find out my anniversary gift!
NOAH Wow, you are ruthless.
Megan pulls herself closer to Samantha who is practically knocked out.
MEGAN Hey Sam. What are you going to get me for our anniversary?
SAMANTHA (drunkly mumbling) Nothing, we're not going to have an anniversary.
NOAH Wow, I guess she's less drunk than we thought.
MEGAN Come on Sam, how are we going to celebrate one year of our relationship on August 15th?
SAMANTHA I don't see us being together then.
MEGAN What the fuck? Sam are you fucking with me?
NOAH Megan she's drunk she's not thinking straight.
MEGAN Sam, what's your least favorite quality about me.
SAMANTHA I think you can be really judgmental.
MEGAN No, she's definitely thinking straight. SAMANTHA And you talk down to me when I don't get something.
MEGAN OK wow, I'm going to leave now.
NOAH Megan, don't leave, she's just making shit up, I'm sure there are things about her you don't like. It's almost 1am you shouldn't go out now.
MEGAN Bye Noah.
Megan slams the door and leaves. Noah goes back to comfort Samantha on the couch.
SAMANTHA I'm about to throw up.
NOAH OK yikes, let's get you a trash can. Samantha throws up on the couch.
NOAH Fuck, OK. Here, let me help you to the bathroom.
THE BATHROOM Noah is holding Sam's hair back as she throws up.
NOAH Everything's going to be OK, everything's going to be OK, you know that right?
SAMANTHA I know that the only humans that will survive to 2061 will be genetically modified to survive a superbug. I know that in approximately 7.56 billion years the earth will be consumed by the expanding sun. Is that what you mean by everything's going to be OK?
NOAH What the fuck? Noah notices that it's started raining outside.
NOAH Sam, what's my real middle name.
SAMANTHA It's Clara.
NOAH Fuck. How do you know that?
SAMANTHA I'll tell you anything if you get me drunk enough.
NOAH Holy shit. What grade was I in when I peed my pants during a test because my teacher didn't see me raising my hand?
SAMANTHA You were in fourth grade.
NOAH Sam, when am I going to die?
SAMANTHA You're going to die on December 19th, 2023.
NOAH I'm going to die a 22 year old?
NOAH Oh my god.
Megan calls Noah.
MEGAN Hey Noah, have you seen Sam? I've been trying to get in touch with her for a few days. Is she with you? NOAH (over phone) Uh yeah. I don't know if now's a good time to talk though.
MEGAN I really need to see her, I'm gonna come over. Can you tell her that I just want to talk? I just need to get a sense of closure.
NOAH (over phone and nervous) I just think- she's not really feeling well- maybe tomorrow, or next week.
MEGAN I don't know what's going on, but I'm coming over now.
INT. NOAH'S APARTMENT BUILDING Megan enters the elevator and TINA, a very short former classmate of Megan's with an annoying voice, enters it right after her.
TINA Megan!
MEGAN Oh wow. Hi Tin-a (she begins to say Tiny Tina but then turns into Tine-a).
TINA Are you here to see the Oracle too?
TINA The Oracle! Noah's been posting about it everywhere. I can cover you if you didn't bring an offering but you're going to have to pay the $50 entrance fee yourself.
Tina pulls out her offering, a six-pack of beers and hands one to Megan.
MEGAN No thanks, I'm actually just here to see Sam.
TINA You're so funny, Megan. I get it, we're not supposed to talk about the Oracle in public. Please don't tell Noah.
The elevator stops and they get out. NOAH'S FLOOR
There is a line of people, mostly other former classmates, out the door of Noah's apartment and a BOUNCER wearing a cloak at the door. Megan pushes her way to the front ignoring the people saying hi to her/complaining about her passing them.
MEGAN Excuse me, I need to see Samantha.
BOUNCER Where is your offering?
MEGAN Can I talk to Noah please?
BOUNCER No offering, no entrance.
MEGAN (shouting) Noah what the fuck is going on here? Where's Sam?
Noah, wearing a cloak, walks to the door.
NOAH (to Bouncer) Let her in. (whispers) But be ready if I need you. (to Megan) Please follow me inside. You can see Sam in a moment I'm just in the middle of my speech. Would you mind just waiting for a second? Thanks.
INT. NOAH'S APARTMENT Noah stands at the center of his living room with a group of 10 people sitting in a circle around him. Megan sits off to the side. It is completely dark except that every open space in the room is covered with a fragrant candle or incense.
NOAH Hello everyone and welcome to the Oracle. I am your High Priest and in a minute I will take you one at a time to the Oracle, but first I will walk you through how it works when enter the lair. As you all know, the Oracle has complete omnipotence, it knows everything that can be known, from the start to the end of time. Your offering and entrance fee covers one question. However, the Oracle also allows a single confirmation question, something you know the answer to, so that there are no doubts as to its powers. Every additional question after those two is another $50. When you enter, you will pour your offering into the great mixing bowl of truth sit in front of the Oracle and ask your question. You must leave your phone outside of the room. You may be disturbed by the smell, do not worry this is only a natural result of the truth obtaining process. Finally, when you leave, be very careful with who you share this information with, the truth can be a dangerous thing. To save both your time and the Oracle's, I will now reveal the answers to some frequently-asked-questions.
Noah points to a chart on the wall with the FAQs.
Number 1: Can I have a million bucks? It is an Oracle not a genie, it will simply tell you that you are capable of having a million bucks, same goes for asking for infinity wishes. Number 3: Is God real? Not in any way you are capable of imagining. Number 4: How did you get your powers/How can I get them? This is one question that the Oracle is unable to answer so don't do it. Question 5: Where did you come from where did you go, where did you come from cotton eye joe? Just kidding, I put- I mean the Oracle put that one in there just for shits and giggles. Any questions? Great now let's begin.
Noah leads one of the teenagers, ISAIAH, to his bathroom.
NOAH'S BATHROOM Samantha is sitting on the toilet, drunk, and naked under her cloak that covers the entire toilet. Right next to her is a bin filled with her vomit. The room has even more fragrant candles and incense.
There is a drink dispenser resting on the sink. Noah directs Isaiah to pour his beer into it. Noah mixes around the drink dispenser, dips a cup into it and brings it to Samantha's mouth. She slowly drinks it. Noah takes the cup and sits to the side, pulling out a pen and paper to write down answers. Isaiah sits down in front of Sam.
NOAH You may ask your question and a confirmation question if you wish.
ISAIAH Who did I have a crush on in 7th grade.
SAMANTHA You're mother.
ISAIAH Wait what? That's not true! (looks to Noah) This is bullshit.
NOAH The High Priest makes no judgments, if there is any truth in what the Oracle said, I would suggest you ask your question.
ISAIAH Ok but I still think it's bullshit. What is the winning PowerBall numbers for Wednesday the 24th of July.
Samantha begins to pee, and Isaiah looks grossed out.
NOAH Ignore that. The Oracle is simply uh retrieving the answer. SAMANTHA The winning numbers are 22-29-35-53-56 and the Powerball number is 13.
ISAIAH (Trying to remember) 22, 29, 35, 55 wait, can you repeat that?
NOAH (To Samantha) Don't answer that! (To Isaiah) That will be $50 please.
ISAIAH But you wrote it down, can I just see what you wrote?
NOAH I'm very sorry but this book has been passed down by the high priests for years, and only we are allowed to read it.
ISAIAH Shut the fuck up Noah, I know you bought that at Muji a week ago. Isaiah gets up to leave.
ISAIAH (muttering as he exits) 22, 29, 35, 55 power ball 13. 22, 29, 35, 55 power ball 13. 22, 29, 35, 55 power ball 13.
As soon as Isaiah unlocks the door, Megan shoves her way in and blocks the door preventing Isaiah from leaving. He continues to repeat his numbers, covering his ears and closing his eyes to avoid distractions.
MEGAN Holy shit Sam you look horrible. Noah what are you doing to her?
NOAH Megan, I can give you a thousand dollars if you walk away right now. Please don't make this a thing. MEGAN Make this into a thing? What's wrong with you? Sam we're getting out of here.
She moves towards the toilet to pick up Samantha. Noah runs out of the bathroom, holding the door shut behind him, trapping the still-repeating Isaiah in the room.
NOAH (Offscreen) Timmy! I need some help here! Megan locks the door.
MEGAN Samantha, are you feeling OK?
SAMANTHA My BAC is at approximately 0.31, my senses are heavily impaired, so I can't feel that much.
MEGAN OK, I'm going to get you out of here.
NOAH (Offscreen) You can't escape Megan! We can make some sort of arrangement if you let us in.
MEGAN Sam, is there a way that we can both make it out of this building alive? And that doesn't leave you with Noah?
SAMANTHA Yes, the fire escape.
MEGAN Great, let's go.
Megan drags Samantha to the window. She opens it and looks down at the 8 story drop. She props Samantha up.
MEGAN Sam, the fire escape is out the other window, there's no way we can survive this drop. How are we going to get out of here? SAMANTHA You need to push me.
MEGAN What? No!
SAMANTHA In 3, 2, 1.
Megan reluctantly pushes Samantha out the window. Samantha grabs onto Megan's arm. She is now hanging down.
MEGAN What the fuck Sam? What do we do now?
SAMANTHA The fire escape. I'll throw the book onto the fire escape.
Megan looks back into the bathroom but the notebook is out of her reach.
MEGAN Hello! Get the book! Please man! Isaiah at first squeezes his eyes and ears shut, trying to block out the sound but then realizes she's yelling for him. He opens his eyes, still repeating his numbers.
MEGAN Help! I need you to pass me that book right fucking now!
Isaiah is about to hand her the notebook then he realizes what it is and hesitates.
MEGAN Please give me the notebook, I can't hold Sam much longer. Isaiah flips to the most recent page.
ISAIAH 22, 29, 35, 53, 56, 13.
Isaiah closes the book, repeats it once, opens the book to check, then hands the book to Megan, and continues to repeat the numbers. Megan passes the notebook to Samantha who tosses the book onto the fire escape one story down.
MEGAN (Yelling)
Noah! Your notebook is on the fire escape. You lose everything if you don't get it.
Noah runs to the window of his living room and looks out.
NOAH What the fuck are you doing? (turns back inside) Timmy don't let them go, I'm getting the notebook!
Upon hearing this, all of the people inside the apartment rush to the window, chasing after the notebook, pushing each other (and Noah) aside. With some struggle, Megan pulls Samantha back into the bathroom. Megan drags Sam to the door and opens it. Bouncer is standing in the doorway.
BOUNCER Sorry ladies.
MEGAN Seriously? Sam what's Timmy's social security number?
SAMANTHA (Megan loudly repeats what Samantha is saying)
Timothy Horton's social security number is 850- BOUNCER Wait! You can go.
They walk/hobble out of the apartment, pushing through the crowd of people fighting to get onto the fire escape.
Megan and Sam walk out of the building onto the crowded sidewalk. Samantha's appearance draws a lot attention.
MEGAN Someone call an ambulance! As the ambulance comes, Megan sees pieces of paper falling down from the sky and looks up to see the continuing fight for the notebook unfold on the fire escape, resulting in its being torn apart.
INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY A few days later, Samantha is in the hospital, but still needs to rest. Megan walks into her room.
MEGAN Hi. How are you doing.
SAMANTHA Y'know just your typical hangover?
MEGAN Seriously?
SAMANTHA No, not at all, I feel like death. And I get a piercing headache every time I open my eyes, or close my eyes, or wake up, or fall asleep.
MEGAN How much do you remember?
SAMANTHA Almost none of it, I remember waking up each morning and that's about it. I remember being called the Oracle and feeling kind of badass. Oh and I remember throwing up a ton.
MEGAN Maybe that's for the better.
SAMANTHA Did something happen between us? Is everything OK?
MEGAN Yeah. Well, you told me that you think I'm judgmental and talk down to you and that we were going to break up, which I realize now is only because I know this.
SAMANTHA None of those things are-
MEGAN Yes they are. And it's OK. I think you, or the Oracle or whatever, was right about us not being together for our anniversary.
SAMANTHA Well, did you ask the Oracle if we're going to stay friends, even when we're in college?
MEGAN I didn't but I can ask her right now.
SAMANTHA I can't say for sure, but I really hope we stay friends.
MEGAN I hope so too.

The Robot of New York

by Abigail Johnson
Theme: Human connection
While human connection is a broad concept essential to stories in general, I wanted to explore it both through how the audience connects to the story and how the main character Greta connects to the humans she meets and the world around her. The audience should struggle to connect with Greta, because she doesn’t think and act like a predictable human: she learns emotions artificially through data uploads or tailored experiences, she thinks about dialogue as computer fonts rather than words and images, and she has a perfect memory. Yet, as the story progresses and Greta actually experiences the real world, she starts living difficult human experiences that help the audience have empathy for her as well as help to make her even more human. I hope that the story will make the audience question what makes someone human and how humans create connections between one another.
A note: the different fonts did not carry over into the text box, so I also uploaded a Word document with the original formatting.
The Robot of New York
Greta stalked drowsily into the kitchen and promptly knocked into the freshly filled bowl of fruit. The wooden bowl clattered to the ground and apples and oranges bounced merrily away into all corners of the kitchen. She stood frozen for a moment, straining to hear any rustles that might signify Janice’s wakefulness in the bedroom above. When none came, Greta bent down and began to pile the fruit back into the bowl. She was always more clumsy after waking up from sleep.
Once the fruit was nestled back in its bowl, Greta set to work, her hands moving faster than humanly possible as she assembled cookware, cracked eggs, and sifted flour. This recipe was one of her favorites and one of the first ones she had memorized. Janice had shown her the cookbook and allowed her to read over the instructions, then she put the book away, and Greta had made her first batch of pancakes. Janice said they were delicious, and Greta learned what pride felt like.
When the batter was sizzling on the pan, Greta called out to the upstairs bedroom. There was a creak on the top steps as Janice made her way down to breakfast. The table was located by the apartment’s biggest window: three panes that provided a sweeping view of New York City sprawling out below. Janice didn’t usually like to talk while she ate, but today she put down her fork midway through her pancakes and spoke:
Greta, do you remember when I told you about Professor Thurmdon, one of my colleagues at Columbia?
Your colleague in machine learning?
Yes, him. I’ve been thinking- John knew about the early stages of my research before my retirement, and he is now working on developing robots that can diagnose mental illnesses. He might like to meet you.
Greta hesitated for a moment, but of course she trusted Janice with her wellbeing.
I’ll go if you want me to.
Janice smiled softly and took another bite of pancakes. She resumed her silence.
Janice left shortly after breakfast for the grocery store, but Greta stayed in her seat at the table, straining her eyes to make out the dome of Columbia’s main library in the distance. She eventually rose to clear the dishes, and she was halfway through tidying up her room when the phone rang. Greta thought it was the telemarketers again, but she picked up the phone to check the caller ID.
Is this the household of Janice Isserman?
Are you related to Ms. Isserman? I’m sorry to tell you this, but she has just suffered a heart attack at the Westside Market on 2840 Broadway. She is currently en route to the hospital in critical condition. We are sending a car to your residence right now, and we recommend you come right away.
Greta put down the phone. She needed to get to Janice. She couldn’t let her suffer alone. Yet they wanted her to go outside. She had in her makeshift brain the voices of hundreds of people she had never met and thousands of places she would never see. This is how she had learned about life, through data and computers. She had never lived it. She would never live.
Perhaps worse yet, what would people think of a robot on the street? Janice had told her not to go outside, warning Greta that people would either want to run tests on her or want to destroy her out of fear. There was no one else like her in the world.
All too soon, Greta heard a siren outside and the blaring of a car horn. As fast as her brain worked, even she didn’t have enough time to rationalize a decision. Instead, she threw on one of Janice’s heavy jackets and wrapped a scarf around her neck and as much of her face as possible before stepping out the front door for the first time. Janice was her teacher, mentor, friend and creator, and she would not let her down.
The police officer greeted Greta quickly but barely looked at her as she fumbled with the car door and lowered herself into the back of the police car. With the door closed, he gunned the engine and they sped off into the chaos of New York City traffic, sirens blaring. Greta barely had time to take in the world of light, color, and humans rushing past her window before they arrived at the hospital and she was shuttled out of the car and through the sliding doors to the ICU. The first person to address her directly was a shy nurse about a foot shorter than Janice. She wore bright white sneakers that she kept glancing down at as she talked, unwilling to meet Greta’s eyes.
Hello, ma’am, what’s your name?
I’m Greta.
Greta, thank you for being here; I’m sure Janice would be so grateful. If you would sit down here, I can tell you more about what is happening.
Greta hadn’t the slightest idea why she would need to sit, but she took a seat in the chair that the nurse gestured to, glad for the chance to tuck her feet underneath its spindly legs; she had not thought to put pants on that would cover the thin black wires snaking around her ankles for her foot circuitry. The nurse spoke again:
I’m so sorry, Greta, but Janice suffered a massive heart attack while shopping at the grocery store today. She was still alive when we got her to the hospital, but we were unable to revive her. She passed away about five minutes ago.
Greta didn’t know what to say.
You’re welcome to go see her if you would like, but she is gone. I’m so sorry. More staff will be here soon to support you and help you with the next steps.
Still lost for words, Greta rose and walked to the hospital room that other nurses were still rushing into and out of. As she stepped inside the doorway, she could just make out Janice’s thin face and frizzy gray and brown hair. An unfamiliar feeling sparked inside of her, as though her implanted memories of pain and sorrow, misery and fear had been reconfigured to become one intense wave of emotion. Greta had never learned agony before – Janice had been too kind-hearted to teach it to her – but she thought now that this must be it. She would not forget this feeling.
Greta took a step towards Janice. She wanted to hold her hand one more time and say goodbye, but as she reached her hand out awkwardly from the unfamiliar enclosure of Janice’s coat, the scarf slipped off her head. She heard a gasp behind her as one of the attending nurses caught sight of the back of Greta’s head: the one part of her body that Janice still occasionally tinkered with and was not covered in a realistic silicone skin.
Ma’am, what’s going on? Are you ok?
Greta turned around and an electric jolt of panic flooded her circuits. The nurse was alarmed, but her confusion kept her rooted to the spot. Greta might have been able to talk her way out of it, but she had never learned how to deal with a scenario like this one. Nothing like this had ever happened, not even in the movies she had watched. Her fight or flight response kicked in, and knowing she could not fight the nurse, she instead pushed past her and began to run. Greta had never run before except for short stretches on a treadmill during Janice’s movement testing, and now as she ran her joints began to squeak noisily. More heads turned, and people began to shout after her:
Stop! Who are you? What are you?
Greta sped up, but her plasticized shoes had such little grip that as she turned the corner she couldn’t stop herself from running head on into the metal food cart being pushed by a nurse on the other side. There was a deafening crash of metal on metal as Greta fell forward onto the cart, and as she struggled to get up, she heard a concerning *snap*. The GPS coordinator stored by her ankle had ripped off and fallen into a puddle of spilled soup and broken glass. Greta left it where it was and ran out the side doors.
A mob of hospital workers, mostly security guards, rushed out the door after Greta, but the crashed cart had slowed them down as well. Greta kept running until she spotted a large crowd of people streaming out of a bus at the bus stop. Throwing the scarf back over her head, she waded straight into the crowd and disappeared from the eyes of her pursuers.
After hiding in the crowd for as long as it lasted, Greta slipped into an alleyway and ducked behind a large dumpster. The ride in the police car had disoriented her, and she had no idea where she was. Her joints were creaking constantly now, and the skin on her hands and elbows had torn. Only Janice could fix her, but Janice was gone. Everything was gone. Janice had never given Greta tear ducts, but in this moment, she wanted desperately to cry.
Greta drifted into sleep mode and shut down for the night, conserving her energy while she struggled to come up with a plan. When the sun rose in the morning, she heard the distant sound of a ball bouncing on pavement and children yelling. Listening to their songs and games called a memory to Greta’s mind: Greta and Janice were sitting at the kitchen table in the apartment, watching a video of children in a schoolyard on Janice’s laptop.
This is a regular school, said Janice, human children go here to learn their letters, numbers, history, and lots more. You can’t go to school, Greta, but you can learn faster than any human can. I’ve equipped you with deep neural networks so you can synthesize both the data that I upload to you and the data you take in in real time. Never doubt yourself. One day you will know more about humans than I do.
If Greta knew anything about humans, it was that they wouldn’t let her coexist in her world. Young humans, however, who hadn’t learned enough of their history and rules yet to fear her, might be just what she needed.
As Greta approached the schoolyard, a little girl ran up to her, shouting, “Hi Miss who are you and why is your head shiny?” Greta laughed and answered, “I’m Greta, and if you can keep a secret, I’ll tell you why.” The girl immediately grew hushed and leaned in close to hear Greta’s secret. “I’m a bionic human!” The little girl sucked in her breath and stared at Greta in awe. “I’m on a secret quest,” continued Greta, “and I need your help: do you know where Columbia University is?”
“Yes!” the little girl answered proudly and pointed to the exit of the schoolyard, “Go that way five blocks and turn left for two more blocks. I live near there so I know!”
“Wow, thank you!” exclaimed Greta with relief, “you’re a hero!” The little girl beamed with pride, and Greta waved to her as she ducked back into the shadows. Donning her coat and wrapping her scarf extra tightly, Greta started walking briskly down the street, channeling the businesslike New York City walk she had seen so many times from the apartment window. She passed one block, then two, then three, and before she knew it, she turned left and could see a familiar dome in the distance. She strode through the gates and glanced at the map plastered to the side of a building before making her way to the engineering building. Fortunately for her, Greta arrived as students were changing classes and she was able to slip through the doors unnoticed. Wandering down hallway after hallway, she finally came upon the door with the name placard she was looking for: Professor John Thurmdon. As she raised her hand to knock, Greta paused and tried to calculate the possible outcomes of the situation and her responses, but her brain was buzzing, and apprehension prevented her from thinking clearly. Janice had done her job well; Greta would have to handle this like a real human.
Professor Thurmdon opened the door at her knock and looked at her blankly. Greta spoke first; “Hello, Professor Thurmdon, I’m Greta, Janice’s friend.” Something clicked in Professor Thurmdon’s eyes, and a sympathetic smile spread across his face. “Greta, it’s so nice to meet you. Please come in and I can help you.” Greta stepped over the threshold to safety.

Accidentally Murdered

by Aritrika Malakar
Themes: Don't take things for granted, especially second chances. Maintaining relationships takes hard work. Live life in a way that you won't regret on your deathbed.

Lauren was kind of an idiot sometimes. But this was not her fault. As far as she knew, she had been going at the correct speed limit and everything was going fine. But then suddenly, there was a truck and the brakes weren't working so she swerved to avoid hitting it. Well, she did avoid hitting it. Too bad she had been going at fifty miles an hour so when she swerved, her car simply crashed through the other side of the bridge and into the river below.
It wasn't a very deep river. She wished it had been. Then people might say she had no chance. The drop wasn't that far either. So what had killed her?
She tried to examine her body as the first responders pulled it out of the water. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. Had she really thought that red lipstick went well with her skin tone? Though to be fair, nothing looked good on a dead body. That was why necrophilia was a crime.
"Just another reckless teen, huh, Bob?"
Lauren turned to see two officers shaking their heads at her corpse.
"I am not a teen, I'm almost twenty!" Well, she technically had a few months until October, but it was close enough. They couldn't hear her, though, so they left her to wallow from where she stood a few feet away from the scene of the rescue. Her body had been placed on a gurney and covered, and the responders were rolling her into the ambulance.
This was so unfair. She was finally going to get the gang back together and now they were going to be on some wild goose chase, confused how any of her "mystery trails" connected to the accident. No one was even bothering to drag her car out of the water. Though it was a pretty trash car.
She waded into the water, finding that it didn't affect her at all. She was basically thin air. Dunking herself under the water, she found she could just swim through it normally. She didn't need to breathe, she just kind of existed.
It was a short distance to her car. She floated over to the driver's side, where the door was already open from when her body was pulled out. She popped open the hood and went to go lift it. To her surprise, she was able to lift it with ease. It seemed she was still able to interact with physical objects. She checked for any sign of malfunction that she might somehow not have noticed before, but she didn't really know much about cars.
Until she saw the brake line. She didn't know what it was at first, but when she saw that it was cut, she knew. This was an old car, yes, but there was never any sign of trouble with the brakes until that day. And of course, this could only mean one thing.
About two hours later, Lauren sat in her old room with her phone in a bowl of rice. Her family would soon be returning from wherever people went to see the bodies of their loved ones. She sat at her desk with her laptop open, looking at pictures of food to torture herself, and thinking of who could have possibly had access to her car to cut the brakes. She logged onto GroupMe to check the group chat of people she'd been friends with since elementary school. People who were now suspects. She'd seen enough murder mysteries to know not to count anyone out.
Lauren jumped up and spun around to see Maya screaming her head off. Lauren looked behind herself but there was nothing there.
"Maya, what's your problem?" Their mother came to the doorway, watching her younger daughter helplessly point.
"It's....Lauren......" Maya managed to get out.
However, their mother didn't see anything. "Just drink some water and go to sleep, okay? We'll go see a counselor sometime soon." She uncomfortably left the room.
Maya stared at Lauren, unable to move.
"So you can see me," Lauren cautiously spoke. "No, don't scream!" Maya closed her mouth. "Okay, this is good. I need your help. I think someone murdered me and pretty soon my friends will also think I've been murdered."
Maya continued to gape at Lauren, who raised an eyebrow in response.
"Dude, are you good?" No response. "Aw, crap, is it the red lipstick? I knew I shouldn't have picked this shade."
"How?" Maya finally spoke.
Lauren shrugged. "Look, all I know is that this—" she gestured to her state "—could be super temporary. I mean, look at what happened! I can't even graduate college. Or get a job. Or have a house. I can't even eat food anymore, but what I can do is try to figure out who cost me all that and get that person's ass in jail. I'm just glad I get the chance to tell you that I'm so over the fact that you moved into my room."
Maya kept staring.
Lauren frowned. "You didn't kill me, did you?"
This was apparently the wrong thing to say, Lauren found out, when Maya burst into tears and fell into her bed.
Lauren groaned. "Great."
Notes: The full story would explore the themes I mentioned and hopefully the change would be in Lauren's perspective on how to live her life when she gets her second chance. It would explore the relationships Lauren had with the people around her and the plot would be how she solves her murder and keeps her friends from wasting their time on the fake trail she set up before this scene takes place.

The Parade

by Lorna McGrath
Theme: I’m trying to explore the theme of human connection through a protagonist that struggles to connect not only with other people, but also with herself. She is so disconnected that eventually she ends up haunted by herself (her story), and murders those she has tried to be close to (aka. she fails miserably at her goal of human connection).
If you wanted a good story, you probably should have read the pages before this. When you could have rooted for the protagonist.
But you ended up here. Just like me.
It was the fourth of July. It was hot. I don’t remember much about it except that we had driven into town from the vineyard and had set up those folding chairs that sag all the way to the ground on the sidewalk. Everyone seemed very concerned that she could see. They kept grabbing her beneath her armpits and hoisting her up, putting her on their shoulders. They all kept asking, can you see? Can you see?
She could see. She could see all the other folding chairs sagging. She could see people dancing in uniform, drumsticks hitting canvas. And then her uncle. When he came into view the clamoring to make sure that she could see intensified. There he is! Can you see Uncle Bill? Are you sure?
She was lifted even higher into the air. And there he was, they weren’t lying. About an arm’s length away. Playing one of those little instruments you blow into – maybe a harmonica. I can’t quite remember. He was wearing a purple shirt and green shorts and lots of colorful beads.
Everyone screamed and cheered for a second. Never mind the fact that Uncle Bill was a mean man who only grew nice much later through the senility of old age. And then he kept marching past. She was let down from the shoulders. All the way down, until the only things she could see was the chair in front of her, and a god bless America sign leaning against its bowed legs.
I didn’t understand until much later, that parades were what I would call, the absurd.
The hustle, the bustle, the cheers, the families who got there at the crack of dawn for seats in the front row. For what?
After the parade, the whole family packed into the Prius and drove home. Well they drove to the supermarket before driving home. They needed supplies for dinner. And they needed to argue about what they wanted to make for dinner. In that order. She didn’t really mind.
She knew that no matter what, time would pass. You see, she wasn’t rooted in the present by her own two feet like most people were. She did not feel the pushes and pulls of gravity, or the weight of herself. It was not that she had a great imagination, which was the initial diagnosis. It was that she felt no great allegiance to herself, no reason to stay. So, during the parade, she drifted up. She saw herself, up on the shoulders.
There I am, she thought. She saw herself turn and smile upward. She saw her own eyes. They were blue. They did not yet haunt her.
It was Mackenzie’s seventh birthday party. Her parents had dropped her off at the door after they’d bought a seventeen-dollar stuffed animal that talked when you squeezed it.
Hi I’m Stardust, it said. I’m your new best friend!
She wasn’t Mackenzie’s best friend, but she had spent the whole morning using glue and sparkles and stickers to make a birthday card. She was still working when it was time to leave, so as she climbed into the front seat of her father’s Chevy, holding the card up as flat as she could so that the Elmer’s Glue would dry. The whole drive she held it up, as her arms grew bored and the card began to sag and wrinkle under the weight of the glue. Eventually, it dripped. It ran all the way down her leg. She watched it pass her knee and curve slowly around her calf.
She didn’t reach down to stop it. She was still trying to hold the card flat. They arrived at Mackenzie’s just as the glue drop nestled into her sock. The card was nowhere near dry, but she folded it in half and stuck it in the bag with Stardust.
The birthday party began by playing hide and seek. She was good at hide and seek. She could shrink herself down until she all but disappeared. This time, she did. Into the small rag closet in the upstairs hallway. It was hard to cram her knees in, but she slowly inched herself into the gap beneath the lowest shelf and waited. Time seemed inconsequential. She could hear the vibrating hums of the dryer in the room next door, and the shouts from around the house as other friends were found. A new game started, again and again. It wasn’t until it was time for cake that they all begin looking for her.
She watched as they searched. They called her name over and over, but she didn’t move. It was comfortable for her, hiding, not being seen. She was almost alone. The only person who could see her was herself, above. She looked down. She could see herself, hiding in the rag closet, alone. She could hear her stifled breathing, see the painful bend of her knees and the burning stretch in her neck and the glue streak down her leg. It was clear now, and crusty. It had dried.
It wasn’t until middle school that she learned about narrative voice. I could go on and on about the horrors of the public-school system, the underpaid teachers, the curriculum that was two years behind. But I don’t think that if she had learned it any sooner it would have made a difference. She realized then that she saw her life in the third person. She was not a protagonist.
She was not a character at all. Yes, she had arms and legs, but everything was very passive back then. She would have frozen at the sight of a verb.
In high school, her mother called her a narcissist. She assumed that was why she saw herself all the time.
I know, she said. It didn’t help that she had turned out pretty. If she’d lived in suburbia with white picket fences and the nine-to-five she would have made the perfect girl next door. But she didn’t. She lived in a post-apocalyptic suburbia, one with overgrown five-acre farms and candy, crack, cocaine, crack cocaine. Whatever you want to call it, it was there. She didn’t touch it, though. Not even after Jack Bennisson, the most straight-edged-goody-two-shoes-do-gooder did a line at the Wilders’ party on Friday night. He ended up in cardiac arrest and spent two weeks in the hospital. Last I heard, he owned his own real-estate brokerage in west Los Angeles and had a blonde wife with large boobs. They married for the tax break and because they were in love. Never mind love though, you aren’t supposed to fall in love in high school. In high school you’re supposed to lose your virginity upstairs to Charlie Pederson. So that’s what she did.
She liked Charlie. He had one of those goofy shy smiles and those limbs that seemed to always be in the way. They talked between classes, she flirted. It was easy, really. She’d thought about him a lot. About his eyes. She thought that maybe if she kissed him, the distance between her and the world would crumble away. Maybe she would only see his eyes, and not her own.
But she watched it happen, from above. Him sloppily undress her, fumble with her bra straps so that they shrunk off her shoulders. She watched as he got on top of her, but she didn’t feel anything. The only thing she could think about was that he was going at the same rhythm as the heavy bass emanating from downstairs. You see, it wasn’t happening to her, only to the girl in the guest bedroom. She was above, watching. She wished that she could turn away. But she couldn’t. She was all alone.
She grew up much in the way I’ve described. You see, I chose those anecdotes for a reason. Because I am the narrator. I wanted her to have a good story. It’s not my fault she wasn’t capable of a steamy romance or a bildungsroman. There was too much distance between her and the world, always. Of course, that is the only reason why I exist. I did the best with what I had.
Do I regret what I did?
No, regret is a human emotion.
She met Rob when she was twenty-nine. You aren’t supposed to fall in love in high school. But she should have fallen in love then. Maybe a small part of her did, I don’t know. But it wasn’t enough.

Poppy's Travels

The title for my work, Poppy’s Travels, pays homage to the popular novel Gulliver’s Travels (and a film that paid homage to the novel, Sullivan’s Travels(1941)), which involves a similar idea of a character traveling from place to place and facing a host of interesting dangers along the way. In this way, there is an intertextuality between my work and Gulliver’s Travels.
Theme: The theme of Poppy’s Travels is that, while history is interesting and should be studied and learned from, it is important to value (and be grateful for) the present moment you are in and realize that history is not as neat and tidy as it may appear in the pages of a book.
Source: “Little African Girl Reading a Book.”
Explanation:My story starts with a flashback to when Poppy, our protagonist, was a young girl who loved reading books about history and historical fiction. Young and naïve – and therefore susceptible to change – she clearly has a childlike wonder, which will allow audiences to connect with her.
In the montage during the flashback, and perhaps aided by a narrator, the audience learns that Poppy would often create her own scavenger hunts to find never-before-discovered artifacts from various important points in history.
Explanation:Still in flashback mode. Poppy’s a little older now. Her grandfather is a historian who told her stories all about the past, including and especially about Harriet Tubman.
Poppy sits in class, devouring her textbooks. It’s clear through her actions and dialogue that she believes the history that the textbooks present to her is the end-all and be-all of everything you need to know about anything.
She discusses how amazing it would be to live through the historical events she reads about. Imagine getting to escape slave hunters and rescue hundreds of slaves like Harriet Tubman!
Her grandfather warns her that while textbooks and social dialogue paint history with neat strokes and tie it with a tidy bow, it is not as enviable as one (in this case, Poppy) might hope. Rather, Poppy should be grateful for the present she lives in (along with the privileges of this era) and learn from history so that its negative parts are not repeated [a theme that our protagonist fails to realize at this juncture].
Explanation:We flash to present day. Poppy is now 14 years old and still just as infatuated – perhaps even more so – with history. On this beautiful, sunny day, she sets off into the woods for another one of her adventures. While digging around for artifacts, she stumbles across an old, yellowed manuscript. At the bottom of the page, in shaky script is the signature of Harriet Tubman. As Poppy opens her mouth in surprise...
Explanation:The wind picks up around her (Was it windy the whole time? Now we can’t remember!)
A beam of light shines through as rain falls (with the sun still out). In a mix of wind, Earth, and sun, a light flashes across the screen, and we fade to black.
Explanation:Poppy awakens, groggy, manuscript clutched in her hand. It’s nighttime now.
The forest looks the same, but different. We can’t quite put our fingers on it.Off in the distance, Poppy notices a figure stealthily creeping across the forest. Poppy calls out to her. The woman freezes.
The next thing Poppy knows, she’s face-to-face with a gun barrel.
Out from the darkness emerges the face of Harriet Tubman. Poppy freaks out (naturally). She explains how much she loves history and how exciting it is to be on the ‘frontlines.’ Tubman is not amused. Poppy hastily introduces herself and shows Tubman the manuscript she discovered, convinced this is a dream. Harriet Tubman looks on in disbelief. She reveals that she had a vision about this the night before (NOTE: Harriet Tubman had visions in real life that (sometimes) predicted future events. This was a result of the head injury she endured as a young girl.) Tubman explains that, with the help of an abolitionist friend, she had written the manuscript that Poppy now has. BUT (there’s always a but), nobody can find it. It includes crucial information that if discovered, would endanger the Underground Railroad and Blacks everywhere.
Unfortunately for Poppy, she (Poppy) must return the manuscript to the original hiding place in Pennsylvania within three days or be stuck in the past forever.
Harriet Tubman agrees to take Poppy with her, since she’s already on her way to Pennsylvania to lead a new group of runaway slaves to freedom (we discover that they are a few miles back – Harriet had been scoping the grounds and would send them a signal when it was clear for them to move).
Tubman establishes ground rules with Poppy (no noise, minimal food and drink, sleep in uncomfortable places, limited sanitation). Poppy accepts, beginning to realize that the reality of the Underground Railroad isn’t as sweet as she’d thought. She watches the mothers drug their babies to ensure that they don’t cry (and therefore, endanger everyone) on the tough journey.
They set out for freedom.
Explanation: On the journey North, Poppy, Harriet, and the escaping slaves encounter a variety of dangers, including...:
Wild dogs sent by slave hunters... during the day, Harriet travels ahead to see if the coast is clear. Against orders, Poppy decides to follow her. The dogs smell and hear Poppy (she still hasn’t gotten the whole ‘silent’ thing down) and chase her. Poppy runs back to the group, unintentionally bringing the bloodhounds with her. In the end, one man loses fingers and eyesight in one eye due to the dogs’ attacks. Tubman shoots the dogs dead before anything more can happen.
Slave catchers. Poppy grows close with another girl (around her age) who is traveling by herself in Tubman’s group. One day, while Harriet has gone ahead to check for safety, Poppy and her friend journey past the ‘campground’ and look for food in the woods. A group of slave catchers see them and chase them. While Poppy’s able to outrun them and scramble up a tree, her friend is captured and taken away to her toxic fate.
The group makes an unexpected detour to a plantation. Poppy witnesses the cruelest parts of slavery – beatings, mutilations, people set on fire, rape. She witnesses the death in the eyes of the living.
Poppy expresses her surprise (either visually or through dialogue) to Harriet. No one else is fazed – this isn’t a history lesson for them; this is real life.
An uptick in slave raids delays the group’s progress. Time is ticking. Poppy is almost out of time. Digging up courage, Poppy must continue the journey on her own. She and Harriet, who have grown close, bid farewell. Harriet leaves her with this: “I grew up like a neglected weed - ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it. Don’t take your liberty for granted, Poppy, and always fight to keep it. You’re blessed to be free in your time... that’s what I’m fightin’ for.” (NOTE: This is a combination of a real Harriet Tubman quote with my own additional dialogue to make it pertain to my story.)
Harriet and Poppy also meet with a variety of notable figures along the way, including Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Booker T. Washington.
Audience members will see the horrors of slavery through Poppy’s eyes. They will empathize and connect with the pain of realizing the negative parts of history and how they affect us in the past and in the present. Audiences will question what it means to be Black in America in 2019 and what it meant to be Black in America in the mid-1800s – what has changed (on a deeper level)? What is the same?
Explanation: With only a few hours to go, Poppy arrives in Pennsylvania. A White man asks to see her papers, proving that she is free. If she doesn’t have them, she will be imprisoned and most likely sent back to a Southern plantation.
She will run out of time.
Poppy doesn’t have the papers.
She is thrown in jail.
History isn’t always sweet.
Black Pennsylvania-based abolitionist William Still learns of this and marches down to the police station with Poppy’s ‘papers.’ He brings forms that prove that she is employed as a maid for a prominent White family in Philadelphia.
Poppy is released.
Only ten minutes remain.
After thanking Still – who we learn is Tubman’s friend – Poppy races off to the woods, careful to remain incognito (and, finally quiet!) She struggles to find the coordinates for where to hide the manuscript.
With time winding down, she digs up one plot (false high) – nothing happens.
She’s still stuck in the past.
She tries another.
Still nothing.
A third time... nada.
She slumps against the tree, checks her watch – she’s out of time.
She sighs, cries. The pent-up emotions she’d felt from her difficult journey in the South have built up, like a dam, and are now being released.
Poppy prays to God though sobs. She pleads with Him, discussing how she misses her parents, the rest of her family, her home, her freedom... The present.The narrator reveals that this was the purpose of her journey all along. Poppy needed to realize – and now does – the danger in glorifying history. Poppy needed to acknowledge and cherish her present moment.
Explanation: A swirl of rain and wind and sun.Poppy returns home, back to where she started. She hugs her parents with all her might. She looks at her history books lovingly, but she puts them back in her bookshelf.
We know she won’t be coming back to them for a while.
Instead, she sits with her parents and grandfather, enjoying the present.
On the wall hangs Peter Collins’s piece, “Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad.” Grandfather looks at it, smiles.
In the picture, Harriet winks, as if the she and Poppy’s grandfather are in cahoots. Grandfather looks vaguely similar to one of the slaves in the painting, but before we can think about it too much...
The End.
For now.


by Adam Riegler
It was around four in the morning on June ninth when Jack Bennett became obliterated along with the rest of the continental United States and most of Canada. I mention Jack, because after years of research, deliberation, and many simulations (including one live action re-enactment) it has been determined that the entire scenario was caused by Mr. Bennett.
There was nothing extraordinary about this man. He was lazy and average in most ways, and yet, in thirty-six hours he was able to set in motion the chain of events that would destroy ten percent of the world. I will now present the culmination of years of research into what we now know as the Bennett Affair of Returned Aggression and Mass Destruction.
The morning of June eighth was quite normal for Jack Bennett. He woke up one hour before work as usual. He then showered, dressed, and brushed. He never ate breakfast because he found it too time consuming, even though the single longest portion of his morning routine was the forty-minute walk that Jack took every day from his apartment to his place of work in order to save the subway fare.
This day at work was as similar to any other that had come before it for Jack. He was an executive assistant to the COO of a small time plastic toy manufacturing company. Jack arrived at his desk and checked the voicemail like every morning, he then responded to emails and played Tetris until his boss showed up. The arrival of Shannon Madison to her office marks the first event to shift the course of that day towards the horrible fiery death it would soon become. Upon her arrival, Mrs. Madison tasked Mr. Bennett with taking a large repayment check to the loan company along with a letter detailing the future repayment schedule.
Jack took the check and the letter and headed to the offices of the loan company where he handed them off. He then went back to work before heading home at six p.m. when he made himself an unsatisfactory meatloaf for dinner and went to bed not knowing that anything was wrong.
When the loan manager first read the letter, he wasn’t sure what to make of it. The untidy scrawl was almost unintelligible. He stared at it for almost twenty minutes before calling over a colleague to help decrypt the meaning. After another twenty minutes, they had come up with the most plausible translation that they could muster and immediately felt a sense of dread creep in. Here is what they had come up with:Emergency, emergency. The instructions for the chemical processes used by our company have been stolen and are being used to develop new weapons of mass destruction. Time is limited, our fear is immense. We are notifying you of this matter in order to prevent and counter-strike. Thank you for your help in this time of great emergency and fear.
The loan managers looked at each other and began to panic: this was obviously above their pay-grade. They decided together that the most prudent option would be to scan both the original letter and their translation and send them upstream to national headquarters (this would greatly limit their liability should the events written about come to pass).Pete Mattock hated being the CEO of a large loan company. That is why you could say he was almost excited when the letter arrived with a note calling for urgent inspection. Pete read the letter and read it again, trying to parse the unwieldly scribbles that spiraled across the page. He took a look at the translation that a couple of drones had prepared for him but wasn’t totally satisfied. He saw the lines that read “emergency” but failed to see any mention of a “chemical process”. The one thing that he did share with his underlings was the thought that whatever this letter meant, it was not meant for him. He needed to push this further up and fast. So, Peter Mattock called in a favor with a friend who worked in the Federal Reserve who he had previously done some consulting work for and asked him to take a look at the letter. The letter passed through many hands at the Federal Reserve each one changing a word here or a phrase there until they had decided that their reconstruction of the letter was perfect.
At this point, it was taken by the Treasury Secretary and presented to the President because it now warned of an imminent attack from a nuclear backed Eurasian peninsula with never before seen strength.
In a matter of hours, a loan restructure had become a declaration of war. By the time the entire nuclear arsenal of the United States had been launched in the direction of Uzbekistan, Jack Bennett was fast asleep. By the time Russia, Iran, and a smattering of other nations had been made aware and returned fire with all that they had, Jack Bennett had gotten up to use the bathroom and drink a glass of water and then fallen back asleep. Like most other Americans that night, he would not wake up.
Ironically, the original letter written by Mr. Bennett was one of the few remaining artifacts of the doomsday event, preserved in the emails between different departments and important figures. So, they put it up to me – an Australian physician – to decode the letter once and for all and find out what really happened that night when the Earth was made quite a bit smaller.

The First Sight

by Benjamin Montgomery
The First Sight
Never believing in love at first sight until the first sight.Theme-Never doubt love.Love. It's a funny thing. It goes on its own way, spreading its powers through all of human kind. How can you know true love on thisEarth when all love is a lie?
Heartbreak and loss, it’s just and endless cycle of climax and rock bottom.Good and bad, and it only gets worse as timegoes by. Well that's at least what I thought. Until I saw her. Gliding in as elegant as a rose petal falls from its stem.I couldn't look at her because I didn't believe my eyes were worthy. I couldn'tgather the courage to stand next to her because my body stood still like cement.I ended up talking to her and it was instant connection. I never imagined there being such a perfect person for me. Rush of blood and adrenaline flew throughout my entire body. I couldn't understand whatwas happening. Was this affection? Were these feelings rushing through my heart.
Was this love? Found myself 40 years later holding her hand at the coach on a bitterly cold night in the mountains.I knew what love was.I knew what it meant to feel unconditionally for someone. Iknew the affection I was feeling was real. It could not be denied and it could not be taken away from me.I read her a poem that jotted down the day I saw her face and out read. As she breathed her last breathe I felt her body go cold, and immediately after mine went numb.Is thisreally love? How .... She taught me connection. My heart morns and hurts but she taught me to care and to feel gain.
To be compassionate and gentile.Love will never go on its own way and demand perfection. It never insist to be made known cause of its own need .Love is patient and ‘Love is kind.
These thoughts I can not bare.
Confusion and anger at what I can not control.
What could become of this feelings?Where will it take me?
An angel walked in the room todayAnd I fear not, what I do not know.

Interactive Narrative

Create a narrative that could not be as effective if it was a linear narrative. Build your interactive narrative in Twine 2 (~5 or 10 minutes playtime. It’s more work than it seems, I promise.) Bonus points if the interaction is meaningful and directly plays back into the theme of the work. Think about what you trying to make the player feel. What is the player ‘fantasy’? What is the theme? How can the mechanics of your game further that theme? How can you deepen your narrative by having active engagement? Try and get the player to figure out your themes instead of laying out your themes for them. Lean-in vs lean-back mentality (you want a narrative that the player ‘leans into’ as opposed to ‘leans back and observes’)

Interaction through story.

As we encode and decode stories, where does passive reception end, and active story creation begin?

What happens when you add interactivity into your story?

Who controls the narrative?

What is the role of engagement in meaning making?

How Play Empowers Narrative - Special Guest Amanda Asofsky of Big Huge Games

How Play Empowers Narrative
How Play Enables Narrative FINAL ASSEMBLY SD.mp4

Amanda Asofsky of Big Huge Games explains how play empowers narrative. Rather than focus on scripted narratives, Asofsky's talk focuses on how narratives emerge from play, and how different types of game design change how players becomes engaged with the narrative, and how integral they are to forming the narrative. Asofsky's insights into player interactivity, the role of the player in forming a narrative, levels of difficulty and engagement are drawn from walking through examples of both indie and bigger budget AAA games.

Play Some Interactive Narratives created by FS 44 Students

Explore Draft Story Maps created by FS 44 Students

The Parade

A Love Story

She Was the Universe

A Chance Encounter

The Story of Aleia

Poppy's Travels

Accidentally Murdered


Heist School

The Oracle

Homophobic Ghost

Through the Eyes of Joanie

Road Less Traveled

The Robot of New York

A Day in the Life of Lilu

Mood and Tone

Adapt your story to a visual/auditory/sensory driven media form. Turn your short story into a scenario-based concept in (at least) one of the following forms: music video, virtual-reality or other experiential media that relies heavily on a visual experience. Use words and visual references to describe the audience/user experience including a description of the CONCEPT, APPROACH, MOOD & TONE, CHARACTERS as well as a description of the SCENARIO/EXPERIENCE along with MOOD BOARDS. Use the medium to express something new about your theme, story or character. Create a 30s-1:30s video clip that explores the impact of visuals and sound on tone, theme, story or character. This clip must include at least 5 visuals, music, sound effect(s), and voice.

Stories are more than words.

How do you a create a distinct mood and tone for your story?

Can the structures of visuals and sound tell a story?

What is the interrelation of style and content?

How does media form shape your story?

Where does a story end and an experience begin?

Watch some Tone Investigations created by FS 44 Students

Lorna -


Adam - Project 4b.mp4

Moon Landing

Madeline - SHUTUP.mp4


Mars - story of aelia.mp4

Story of Aleia

Aritrika - Accidentally Murdered Trailer.mp4

Accidentally Murdered

TJ - Take A Step Back.mp4

Take a Step Back

Vania - she was the universe final video.mp4

She Was the Universe

Janine - FILM 44.06 Sensorial


Eli - I Don't Know- Film 44 Assignment 4B.mp4

I Don't Know

Abigail - Robot of New York Final Video.mp4

The Robot of New York

Dominique Mobley - Assgmt 4B (1).mp4

Poppy's Travels

Monty - First Sight.mp4

First Sight

Khonza - Bon Iver - Woods.mp4

Bon Iver - Woods

Ariel - Love is Patient.mp4

Love is Patient

Jimmy - _The Touch_ - Stan Bush.mp4

The Touch

Developing Characters

Describe a character (or 2), their goal and objectives within a story, their relation to other main characters, their characteristics and traits that define/constrain them and make them who they are, and their character arc. How much of the character action and intention is decided by the author vs viewer/user? What complexities are built into your character? Will your character have the ability to change? What possibilities will your character change?

Telling stories through characters.

Why does it matter if a character is round vs flat, motivated vs passive, flawed vs admirable, exceptional vs ordinary?

How much do we have to know about a character to care what happens to them? how much is too much?

How can you use narrative structure, plot, or theme to engage people in your characters?

How can you create consistent characters that can move across media?

Rex “Stonewall” Steel

by James F. Cronin
Rex “Stonewall” Steel
Rex is not your average movie protagonist. I’m not saying that to make him stand out or anything, it’s merely a fact. Most movies have protagonists that act like rational, empathetic humans. They try to have them act and appear like a real person would in the same circumstances of the movie’s plot. That’s not Heist School, though. Because it’s a satirical comedy, my protagonist doesn’t act like a normal person. He’s much more cartoonish, simple, and, all around, more unrealistic. That’s not to say he doesn’t have human characteristics, he definitely does (which I’ll expand upon below), but because his entire being is intended to poke fun at the unrealistic characters that are presented as realistic in other action movies, he’s a little less “human” than a character in a melodrama or another more serious genre. He’s not as self-aware as Deadpool, but he is definitely designed as a stereotypical action movie protagonist.
Rex’s goal is simple. He wants to steal testing answer keys and distribute them to the student population prior to a big standardized test. He wants this because he’s a rebel who has been punished by the school system his whole life for standing out and being different, and now that it’s spring of senior year, he has nothing to lose and a lot to gain (in his mind at least). He also views the school as evil, and his crusade against it as good.
His best friend is Robin, who’s his second in command. Robin’s a jock in his junior year who wants to play football at Syracuse. Robin will do anything to impress Rex, even if Rex is sometimes a bad friend to Robin. His name may be a little on the nose but that’s in-line with a lot of the ridiculous names in the James Bond franchise - I mean, Pussy Galore? Holly Goodhead? Really? Rex treats Robin like any hero treats their sidekick, with not enough respect.
His romantic interest is a new girl named Jessica Powers. She’s pretty, badass, and, even though Rex is hopelessly in love with her, she doesn’t care for him. Rex attempts to win her over multiple times throughout the story and is unsuccessful. Ultimately, Rex will win her over, but it will be noted in the movie how this is a satirization of how action movies will often pretend to have strong female characters, but they usually always get with the guy anyway, which kind of seems to negate the point of having a strong female character and often makes the movie seem like it’s catering to the male fantasy.
His arch-nemesis is none other than Principal Vladimof, the cartoonishly evil supervisor of the high school who doesn’t like kids to have any fun whatsoever and wants nothing more than complete obedience from his pupils. He doesn’t tolerate radical or liberal ideas, and he doesn’t like students straying from his own personal academic canon. As you can imagine, given Rex’s personality, the two have clashed quite a bit during Rex’s time at the school, and, as such, they are enemies. Vladimof is intentionally 2D because most villains in clichéd action movies are generally portrayed in shades of black with no room for grey. He’s just evil, and because Rex sees himself as just good, the two of them are natural opposites that seek to defeat one another.
Rex is bullheaded and stubborn, yet all his stupid ideas generally work out because of movie logic. He thinks he’s slick and suave, but many of the more grounded characters find him to be pompous and obnoxious, in the beginning at least. He is physically quite impressive and able to do any of the acts the movie requires him to do like being an expert in hand-to-hand combat, firearms, vehicle driving, and whatever else the script requires of him.
Mentally, he’s not all that clever. He’s kind of dumb and relies on his sidekicks to help him overcome obstacles that require a modicum of critical thinking. He then takes all the credit for completing the task (how often does Ethan Hunt acknowledge how important Benji is, huh?!). All that being said, he is a good guy. Although forever a rebel, Rex staunchly believes that good will always overcome evil and that the only way that can happen is to stand up against your oppressors. That’s why he wants to release the test answer keys; he views the school system and administration as evil and wants to break the system, even if only momentarily. He knows there’s consequences, but he doesn’t care if he’s expelled or arrested because he doesn’t care about slaving for good grades just to get a dead-end job. If he goes to jail, it’s not like he hasn’t been there already. He’s a rebel! It’s what he does! Sometimes, Rex doubts himself and gives in to Vladimof’s rhetoric about how he’s a useless member of society and will never do anything great with his life.
Sometimes, at low points, he starts to think that maybe good doesn’t always beat evil. Obviously, he comes around by the end of the movie though. Imagine Rex as someone who has seen Terminator, Rambo, Rocky, James Bond, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and attempts with varying levels of success to emulate the protagonists of those movies.
Rex’s character arc is a fairly simple one. He starts off as the idealistic rebel who believes that good always triumphs over evil, but as the heist goes on and his friends start to feel real consequences for something that he got them into, he starts to doubt his resolve. As Vladimof succeeds here and there in stopping Rex, he starts to think that maybe good doesn’t always triumph over evil, maybe evil institutions are just so firmly entrenched everywhere in society that there’s nothing good can do to ever overcome it. This all happens when he’s captured and in detention (which is more like a torture chamber in this hyper-stylized, over the top world). When Jessica breaks him out and convinces him that they should keep fighting, that good can beat evil, he comes around and realizes that she’s right, and the two of them continue the mission. Because my medium is film, all of the character action is determined by me since I’m the writer. However, this film will require interaction from the audience for a few reasons. 1) it’s a satire, so people will have to use their brains to figure out what I’m satirizing and what message I’m trying to get across through it, and 2) it’s going to draw inspiration from and have homages to many famous and not so famous action movies, and for the aficionados of the genre, I want them to have to actively watch so that they can catch all the references to and inspirations from other movies. A bad but entertaining action movie like one of the entries in the Transformers series doesn’t require much interaction from the audience - they just have to sit there and enjoy the gobbledygook of cool looking CGI violence - but I want my audience to enjoy the eye candy action but also understand that there’s much more under the surface beyond great action and good comedy.
Rex is only complex if you take a step back and understand that he’s a caricature of a type of protagonist prevalent in action cinema from the 1980s to present day, and that the whole point of his character is to show how ridiculous (albeit often very cool) that type of protagonist really is. On the surface level though, he’s just kind of a badass with some firm beliefs who has just the right ratio of brave to stupid in him to attempt something like an answer key heist.He will have the ability to change. Right now, he starts off with a set of ideas about the power of good over evil, but when those ideas are put to the test, he begins to doubt them. Through the power of friendship (yes, it’s intended to be as campy as it sounds), he realizes that he was right all along and after he succeeds and knows his beliefs were right, his power to affect change is much greater, and eventually allows him to take down
Principal Vladimof and liberate the high school from his oppressive reign.Rex’s struggles are integral to his development as conflict is to any character’s. In the beginning, he’s much more of the cocky, obnoxious type of rebel. When his friend Robin gets suspended and his chances of playing football in college are thrown out the window, he realizes that dragging his friends into his fight and being so careless has real consequences. He begins to wonder if it’s worth it. No matter how many karate fights with hall-monitors he wins, he wonders if it’s worth the personal cost. When he’s caught and interrogated/tortured, he struggles to find the will to keep fighting for his beliefs. He starts to think that maybe I should compromise with my beliefs, maybe good doesn’t always defeat evil, maybe I should give up. When Jessica breaks him out and convinces him to fight again, he realizes through how much she also cares for the struggle that good has a chance, and so he keeps fighting! That’s who Rex is. The awesome amalgamation of dozens of different action movie protagonists all rolled in to one.


by Vania Ding
Blake is the protagonist and playable character in She was the Universe, where the player slowly learns her past with her crew while she investigates their disappearance.
Blake’s character will not be significantly changed by interactivity for the backstory as the player will mostly serve to uncover details and accounts of the past, saving a few playable “flashback”scenes. The player can choose what lesson Blake takes from her experience with the finalchoice in the game, which is the character change both Blake and the player will have taken from the story.
Her character revolves around a significant traumatic event in her life where she chose to abandon her family in order to escape off a dying planet. From this, she develops her ultimate goal: safety. Losing everything and everyone that she cared about and having to start over developed her mindset that stability is fleeting. There is nothing and no one that she can safelyrely on.
This leads her to instinctively isolate herself from others and constantly be on the move (planet hopping). Blake becomes business savvy and extremely cautious, two attributes that help hergain enough to support her traveling lifestyle. She gets fixated on big goals, such as creating another safety net or nest egg, that make her feel more in control of the future. When faced withcompetition, she has a limited-resource philosophy (more for them means less for me) because of the harsh conditions she faced both during and after her escape. This causes her to have a strong competitive streak and constantly places her in conflict with others.
Her biggest strength is her willpower to succeed, no matter the obstacles, because subconsciously, she connects her ability to succeed with her ability to survive. Losing things cause her to mentally spiral into high amounts of fear and anxiety. Through her desire for safety,she becomes obsessed with control, especially over her own feelings to avoid her past pain.
The “lie” she tells herself is that if she works hard enough and protects herself from becoming too attached to anything, she can finally achieve the safety and stability she wants. The truth she needs to accept, or the arc that she should go through, is that there will never be a time she can control her circumstances 100%. She needs to learn to accept what’s around her for its risks and flaws instead of constantly striving to assert control over her future to find true stabilityin herself.
The inciting event that starts her change is the opportunity to gain extra funds for her travels through her co-worker’s, Peter, idea to start smuggling goods through their workplace (an interstellar travel agency). This leads her in by the promise of gaining more for her nest egg andchallenges her because it introduces her into socializing with the other smugglers, who quickly adopt her into their crew after they find success. As business goes well, the group bonds and Blake learns to handle attachment and comradery with her crewmates.
The challenges start to get more real when she begins a romantic relationship with one of the crewmates, Mara. The threat of becoming vulnerable from this attachment starts to weigh on Blake. While this is happening, business is starting to dry up and the group starts to have their first major issues. Instead of making the best of the circumstance and trying to solve intergroup conflict, Blake impulsively cheats on Mara with another crewmember, Sasha, in an attempt tobreak her attachment and control her emotions. It doesn’t work.
This creates even more intergroup conflict. Blake falls back into her old habits and mentally detaches herself from her crewmates, but finds that she can’t fully control her feelings for Mara.Another smuggling group becomes more prominent and Blake finds herself caught between her competitive streak, which would cause her to abandon the group and join the new group, and her attachment to Mara. In the end, she betrays and abandons the group, failing her character arc.
During the events of the game, the player learns this backstory and that Mara and the other crewmates were absorbed by the planet, becoming a part of its ecosystem. The final choice is whether Blake should decide to join her crewmates or keep going, which is a symbolic choice between vulnerability and isolation.


by Madeline Donahue
The majority of this story is told through the perspective of the older of the two girls, Chloe.
Chloe is 22 years old, she was born and raised in Highland Park, California and now attends college at UC Berkeley where she is studying pre-med and plans to be a cardiologist.
Chloe grew up right next door to Adam, who is the oldest of 3 boys and 1 girl and heir to the throne of his father’s deli. Adam and Chloe were attached at the hip from a young age and then when junior high rolled around everyone knew what was coming. They dated off and on for a few years in high school, Chloe’s extracurriculars and desire to attain independence were just a few of the factors that lead to the hot and cold relationship.
Chloe lived in a 2 bedroom apartment unit above the bar that her mother bartended at. Her twin older brothers shared the master bedroom, Chloe had the office/closet/bedroom, and her parents, but on most nights just her dad, slept in the third. Neither of her parents received a college education. Her father worked on houses in the hills and her mother, like I said, was downstairs pouring drinks, and drinking them, equally. Her two older brothers were the only steady thing in her life. They were the ones that taught her to ride a bike, swim, and fight. Just as she entered her sophomore year of high school, they both got deployed.
She couldn't stand being home, hearing the music pounding from downstairs, smelling the booze all around, feeling the ground shake beneath her. She needed an out. One time in middle school Adam was using a plastic card to try to pick a lock and nearly snapped it in half. About to toss it, Chloe recognized the name written across, Arroyo Seco Library. She passed that library every day on her bike. She pocketed it and stopped by on her way home. After that day, she was hooked. She had never felt the fill of silence, the smell of Lysol on every surface, the slightly over-air-conditioned air. And then there were the books. Anything she ever wanted to know was at her finger tips. This was her out. From that day forward she went there every day.
Skip to senior fall, Chloe was top of her class, working nightshifts as an EMT, and had secured a position shadowing a top cardiologist next summer in San Francisco. She had been saving every single cent since the first day at the library and had applied for numerous scholarships from her community. She applied early to UC Berkeley and now waited. And then it happened.
Of course she considered abortion. She had even gone to the appointment. But the next day she was back in Arroyo Seco reading about adoption.
Coming from a childhood of absentee parents she always dreamed one day they would never come home and she could just live her life with her brothers or moved in with Adams family, or even better get adopted into a fabulous Hollywood family. At barely 18, Chloe made the decision that she would not let her child have the same fate. She knew what she wanted to do with her life and she knew it left no time for taking care of a baby. She would have the child, give it up for adoption to the best family she could find, and continue on her way. Sounds easy.
3 years later Chloe is in her sophomore year at UC Berkeley studying pre-med every day during the week and on weekends driving back home to visit her two-year-old daughter and Adam. Each year that passes since she initially made that decision she had made concession putting off the date at which she will forever leave her daughter’s life. This is where the story begins.
One weekend, on a trip down to LA, Chloe stops at a diner to get some food and meets Sam.
Together they fill each other’s voids. Sam is a risk free pseudo daughter that she can hold onto without the responsibility. Or so she thinks.
Over the next few weeks, Chloe and Sam continue to meet each other at that same diner and get closer and more important to one another. Sam tells Chloe everything from what she had for breakfast that day, to the first time her father hit her, her love for math, to what the drama at school is. And to some degree Chloe did as well, except one small thing. Every time they met Chloe planned on telling Sam about her daughter, but each time she decided not to, and the longer they knew each other the hard it became to bring it up. Eventually, she enjoyed the idea of having this whole life apart from her life she was traveling to.
As time moved on, Chloe was nearing her most recent deadline to completely remove herself form her daughter life, her 3rd birthday. The weekend she traveled down tot LA to celebrate with Adam she met with Sam. At the diner Chloe explained that tis would be the last time they meet.
Sam did not take this well and took it upon herself to follow Chloe to her home. While watching from the outside Sam realized the small part of Chloe’s life she had been hiding form her all this time. Furious, Sam confront Chloe at her home and decided she was going to run away for good this time.
Chloe’s worlds were imploding before her. The two separate lives she had curated for herself were both crumbling. She knew she loved her daughter more than anything else, and had told herself that the only way to provide her with a decent life would be to take herself out of the equation. Is this also how she can solve things with Sam? Should she had never of engaged with her? Since a child she’s been itching to get out of this town but she just keeps getting pulled back, first by Adam, then her daughter, now Sam. But on a human level she can’t deny the innate love she feels for her daughter and this complete stranger, something she had never felt growing up, and she didn't want to lose it.


by Eli Hecht
This character is part of a larger family comedy/drama that takes place after the death of the family’s grandfather.
Character: Shirley is a 77 year old grandmother. She is a Jewish Holocaust survivor living in New York City. Her husband has just died. After the funeral, she immediately began the process of cleaning out her husband’s stuff, prompting her son Aaron to offer for her to stay with his family. She has an idea of how Aaron’s house should function and what her grandkids should be like, and is struggling to accept the modern world.
She had spent the past few months taking care of her dying husband and now has decided to fill her time with trying to “fix” Aaron’s family. Aaron has a wife, Naomi, and two kids, 17-year-old Becca and 13-year-old Sam. She has no problem voicing her complaints, frustrating Aaron and Naomi. She criticizes Naomi’s cooking to the point that Naomi has Shirley take over cooking completely. The lie that Shirley tells herself is that if everyone just understood what she was saying, they would agree and change their ways. Because of this, she keeps talking until the problem she sees goes away.
Shirley will not have the ability to change her views, but she can control how she expresses them and realize that she is hurting her relationships with family members.
Struggles that illuminate character/development:
During the funeral, Shirley and her other son Joshua clash over the ceremony. Though Shirley raised him largely secular, Joshua has become much more religious and both Shirley and Joshua bring their own rabbis to the ceremony leading to a very contentious ceremony and to Shirley refusing to invite Joshua to the family lunch afterwards.
Becca brings over Tenzin, her girlfriend, and Shirley (without realizing that they are dating) tells Becca how much she likes Tenzin so Becca decides to tell her. She doesn’t understand why Aaron and Naomi are fine with it. She has an image of her ideal successful Jewish family and hopes to have great-grandkids and is unable to see that her children and grandchildren don’t share this image. This ends up pushing away Becca who had earlier made an effort to learn Shirley’s recipes and spend time with her. This shows how she is unable to see that being queer today is different than it was 50 years ago, but more importantly that she’s hurting her granddaughter.
Sam wants to quit playing soccer and Naomi wants to let him, but Shirley intervenes, saying that he needs to be tougher. Shirley offers to take him to a game. At the game Sam plays terribly and is holding in tears the whole time. Shirley tries to get him to stop crying and keep playing but eventually lets him stop playing and leaves early with him. On the way back, he bursts out in tears and Shirley has to comfort him. She’s not used to opening up emotionally or dealing with others doing the same and once she stops telling him to stop crying and starts trying to be supportive he begins to cheer up.
Turning point: Later, Tenzin breaks up with Becca. As much as Shirley wants to celebrate, she decides to console Becca and listen while she cries. She does what she can to be supportive, cooking Becca soup and fights the urge to say anything that would hurt Becca.

Joanie Wilbur

by Arielle Isedenu
Joanie Wilbur, the main character, is kind, artistic, naïve, intelligent. Her character is determined by the author and the interactive experience is more immersive than one of interactivity. She has a social awkwardness that prevents her from prying into her partner, Steve’s life. When she finds out that Steve has breast cancer (from the doctor in the hospital rather than from Steve herself), Joanie changes in character. She loves old people. She works at places like the library, senior centers, and hospitals teaching the elderly and the sick how to paint. She uses art to teach them how to express themselves and depict their greatest memories. Due the high stakes presented of Steve’s impending death Joanie no longer wants to waste time and chooses to confront her concerns head on. After this event she also becomes more hands on in her relationship whereas as prior she accepted whatever excuse Steve gave her. Her artistry in this story is used to demonstrate her ability to express herself, just not in word. As a result, her transition in expression and confidence is clear by the end of story as she becomes more vocal verbally, in addition to her already vocal nature artistically. One point that she will also struggle with is the fact that Steve was being treated in the same hospital with her almost every Saturday being treated for her cancer and she did not know. This detail causes her to further consider her passive nature in their relationship and confront her fears of confrontation. She is a character designed for people to relate to, empathize with, and ultimately enjoy seeing on screen because of her bubbly and fun-loving personality.


by Abigail Johnson
The main complexity of the character Greta in The Robot of New York is that she straddles the line between human and non-human, and there are many times in the story when the audience should not be able to tell the difference. The main action and intention of Greta is decided by the author, but there are moments when the audience should puzzle through what Greta’s intentions and motivations are and whether they are a product of the training she has received in reasoning and problem-solving or an indication that she might be gaining a conscience.Greta fortunately has an extraordinary ability to change because that is what she was built so carefully to do. She learned everything she wasn’t preprogrammed knowing in the few years she has been fully functional, and she was designed by Janice to be able to learn from observing the world around her. The only thing that limits how much she can change is she finds some behaviors that are distinctly human harder to learn, such as going against logical reasoning because of strong emotion. However, as she lives more in the human world, she starts to develop an almost human capacity for emotion. As the story goes on, Greta develops from a relatively one-dimensional character to a three-dimensional character with a philosophy, decision making skills, and emotional responses that Linda Steger pinpoints as critical to an effective character in Making a Good Script Great.
Greta’s main moment that will force her to change occurs when Janice dies, which sets in motion a series of changes in her life. She will change as she makes decisions about how to handle Janice’s death (does she go to the hospital or to her funeral?) and how to move forward afterward. She ultimately does decide to seek help from one of Janice’s former colleagues, but he does not have the time or the space to house her or meet her needs, so he gives Greta a path to a job as his teaching assistant and leaves the rest to her. Greta from then on will have to make countless choices about how to live her life now that it is actually in her control.Greta’s internal struggle is that she doesn’t believe that humans will accept her or that she will ever coexist entirely with humans. She has this mindset because she is the only robot of her kind that she knows, and Janice insisted on Greta’s existence being a secret. Greta’s purpose up to the beginning of the story was simply to exist and to learn. However, Janice’s death forces Greta to create an external goal beyond accumulating knowledge. Her external goal at first is simply to survive in the human world, which comes into conflict with her inner doubt that that is not truly possible for her. These conflicting beliefs constitute the base of Greta’s struggles, and as she learns to live in New York City, her external goals gradually get farther reaching, from becoming a TA in Professor Thurmdon’s class to eventually teaching her own class and fighting for the chance to become a professor at Columbia. Although Greta’s need to survive eventually begins to overcome her doubt that she isn’t meant to live in this world, she can never quite let go of this insecurity. However, the fact that she works hard yet doubts her own abilities also makes her even more human, so her struggle to fit in with humans inadvertently makes her more human.
While most of the moments provoking major change will occur in the beginning of the story, it is the many smaller moments that will truly shape how Greta adapts to her new life. These moments will take place throughout the story and can be anything from when Greta decides to sit with a lost boy on the street as he waits for his mother to when Professor Thurmdon tells her that she has to reveal her identity in order to give a guest lecture in his class. The day she tells people who she really is will be a breaking point for Greta. When her students, most of whom already know her from her experience as a TA, accept her and even begin to invite her to meals and social events, she begins to feel a bit of freedom that gives her the motivation to keep reaching higher.
Greta begins her journey feeling insecure and scared, but she soon learns to feel moderately comfortable in her new life. Once she begins to reveal her identity as a robot to more people, her fear begins to subside, and she sheds some of her insecurity as she realizes she is a valued part of the communities she participates in. The story will end after Greta’s first class as a professor at Columbia. Her ending is largely a happy one; though she has met people who are wary of her and professors who do not believe in her ability, she has managed to overcome her internal struggle to feel accepted and exceeded her external struggle to coexist with humans.


by Aritrika Malakar
The main character of this story is Lauren, a 19 year old college student on summer break after her freshman year of high school. Her main goal is to figure out how she died and who killed her, and her side goal is to prevent her friends from making their way through the fake trail she planted for them. Some smaller objectives include getting her friends back together, reconciling with her sister, and making her parents feel better about everything.
She never lived up to her parents' expectations of her no matter what she did. Now both parties regret where they left things before Lauren died.
She and her sister usually get along, but there is some resentment on Lauren's part because Maya is the perfect daughter, and some resentment on Maya's part because Lauren never appreciated herLauren and Charlie were always good friends since they met in high school but in extreme competition with each other in high school. They're the two jokesters of the group that you can't leave alone together or they'll cause some sort of chaos. Lauren thinks Charlie's life is the one she was meant to have.
Lauren and Ashley used to be neighbors, which is how they became best friends since childhood. But Ashley's parents got richer while Lauren's parents started to struggle, resulting in them not being neighbors anymore and having different lives. They probably have the closest bond just because of how long they've known each other, but they have extremely different personalities and interests.
Lauren feels weird about how Ashley has changed but still remains friends with her.Lauren and Mira used to be better friends when they were younger but things had been awkward ever since Lauren found out about Mira's boyfriend being abusive and didn't know what to do about it. No one else knows about this and Mira is still with the guy.
Lauren and Liz are each other's confidants. It started when Liz helped Lauren through some family issues that she wasn't comfortable sharing with the others, and Lauren is the only person Liz can really be herself around because Lauren is too preoccupied with other things to notice.
Lauren and Hunter always bicker about everything there is to bicker about just because they want to, but if someone else tries to argue with them, the two girls are on the same side and there's no getting through. They're the most stubborn of the group and they often clash and insult each other, but it's all in good fun. However, neither has been able to be vulnerable around the other.
Character traits:Extremely lazy, which often got in the way of her life before and gets in the way of her murder suspect search. Her laziness contributed to a very unfinished fake trail and she only bothered to do that in the first place because she thought it would be fun
Has a flair for the dramatic and likes to live life like a movie, which is why she did the whole Gone Girl inspired fake trail thing
Very little willpower when it comes to doing things she doesn't want or when it comes to cutting herself off after too many episodes. Becomes a problem because she can't handle her priorities due to TV addictionStubborn as hell: if things don't go her way, then they're wrong and everyone is wrong
Is tough both inside and out, claims she doesn't really have emotions and if other people express emotions, she feels awkward. In reality, most of her emotions are just variations of irritation and anger, but her childhood has morphed her into not being affected by meaningless things like the opinions of others
Character arc: Lauren will learn to appreciate the good things about the life she had and have a more positive outlook on the world. She will learn to pay attention to the people around her and actually make an effort to care about them. She will also learn how to give purpose and meaning to her life. In short, Lauren will learn to live her life to the fullest and to not take things or people for granted.
While the world has always revolved around her before, being a ghost will force her to really take a look at the people and relationships around her. She'll get to really know her friends on a better level, like Charlie isn't happy with his life or Hunter has deep insecurities. She'll have to really get to the root of why her parents' relationship isn't working and why they never felt like Lauren was enough. Since she can be seen by her sister Maya, she gets to really dissect Maya's life and feelings and truly get to know her sister.
Some struggles are that when things aren't going great with Maya, Lauren will start to fade away from her. Once she realizes the only possible suspects are her friends, she has no choice but to really look closely into their lives and figure out who they are as people and what they are hiding. She'll see how the choices she made when see was alive affected the people around her and she'll have to figure out how to use her ghostly abilities to fix her past mistakes.
Being a ghost is another struggle because it's something she'll have to figure out how her abilities work, how she's physically restricted, and how to just sit back and watch and not be able to do anything.


by Vania Ding
Blake is the protagonist and playable character in She was the Universe, where the player slowly learns her past with her crew while she investigates their disappearance.
Blake’s character will not be significantly changed by interactivity for the backstory as the player will mostly serve to uncover details and accounts of the past, saving a few playable “flashback”scenes. The player can choose what lesson Blake takes from her experience with the finalchoice in the game, which is the character change both Blake and the player will have taken from the story.
Her character revolves around a significant traumatic event in her life where she chose to abandon her family in order to escape off a dying planet. From this, she develops her ultimate goal: safety. Losing everything and everyone that she cared about and having to start over developed her mindset that stability is fleeting. There is nothing and no one that she can safelyrely on.
This leads her to instinctively isolate herself from others and constantly be on the move (planet hopping). Blake becomes business savvy and extremely cautious, two attributes that help hergain enough to support her traveling lifestyle. She gets fixated on big goals, such as creating another safety net or nest egg, that make her feel more in control of the future. When faced withcompetition, she has a limited-resource philosophy (more for them means less for me) because of the harsh conditions she faced both during and after her escape. This causes her to have a strong competitive streak and constantly places her in conflict with others.
Her biggest strength is her willpower to succeed, no matter the obstacles, because subconsciously, she connects her ability to succeed with her ability to survive. Losing things cause her to mentally spiral into high amounts of fear and anxiety. Through her desire for safety,she becomes obsessed with control, especially over her own feelings to avoid her past pain.
The “lie” she tells herself is that if she works hard enough and protects herself from becoming too attached to anything, she can finally achieve the safety and stability she wants. The truth she needs to accept, or the arc that she should go through, is that there will never be a time she can control her circumstances 100%. She needs to learn to accept what’s around her for its risks and flaws instead of constantly striving to assert control over her future to find true stabilityin herself.
The inciting event that starts her change is the opportunity to gain extra funds for her travels through her co-worker’s, Peter, idea to start smuggling goods through their workplace (an interstellar travel agency). This leads her in by the promise of gaining more for her nest egg andchallenges her because it introduces her into socializing with the other smugglers, who quickly adopt her into their crew after they find success. As business goes well, the group bonds and Blake learns to handle attachment and comradery with her crewmates.
The challenges start to get more real when she begins a romantic relationship with one of the crewmates, Mara. The threat of becoming vulnerable from this attachment starts to weigh on Blake. While this is happening, business is starting to dry up and the group starts to have their first major issues. Instead of making the best of the circumstance and trying to solve intergroup conflict, Blake impulsively cheats on Mara with another crewmember, Sasha, in an attempt tobreak her attachment and control her emotions. It doesn’t work.
This creates even more intergroup conflict. Blake falls back into her old habits and mentally detaches herself from her crewmates, but finds that she can’t fully control her feelings for Mara.Another smuggling group becomes more prominent and Blake finds herself caught between her competitive streak, which would cause her to abandon the group and join the new group, and her attachment to Mara. In the end, she betrays and abandons the group, failing her character arc.
During the events of the game, the player learns this backstory and that Mara and the other crewmates were absorbed by the planet, becoming a part of its ecosystem. The final choice is whether Blake should decide to join her crewmates or keep going, which is a symbolic choice between vulnerability and isolation.


by Dominique Mobley
 Description:o Poppy is our 14-year-old protagonist. After discovering a never-before-seen-or-known-of manuscript written by Harriet Tubman – with the help of her Black abolitionist friend, William Still – Poppy is transported back to the era of slavery in the United States (PHYSICAL ACTION AS MOTIVATION). This event serves as Poppy’s physical action as motivation because it “catapult[s] the main character [Poppy] into the story” (Seger 111) and “force[s her] to become involved in what’s to take place” (Seger 111).
 Goals and objectives within the story:o Poppy’s goal is to deliver the manuscript to the given location before time runs out (she has three days). If she does not return the manuscript on time, she will be trapped in the past forever
(STAKES). Relation to other main characters:o Poppy is the only main character in the story.o A major supporting character in the story is Harriet Tubman, who leads Poppy and the group of runaway slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
 Harriet Tubman provides Poppy tough-love and truth along their route... she knows the true value of freedom, even with her limited experience with it. Perhaps, in having no freedom, Harriet understands freedom better than those who are born with it.
 Harriet supports Poppy on her quest by allowing her to tag along on the Underground Railroad route (that will take Poppy to where she needs to deliver the manuscript).
 At the end of the story, Harriet serves as a vessel through which the theme is told (i.e., when she tells Poppy that she (Harriet) “grew up like a neglected weed – ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it. Don’t take your liberty for granted, Poppy, and always fight to keep it. You’re blessed to be free in your time... that’s what I’m fightin’ for.”) In this way, Harriet is a thematic character.
 Characteristics and traits that define/constrain Poppy and make her who she is:o Poppy romanticizes history – in a middle-age-man-who-romanticizes-war-but-has-never-fought-for-anything-in-his-life way. She especially romanticizes the part of history that deals with the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman.
o Poppy is naïve (as many kids her age are). Because of this, she fails to acknowledge and internalize how blessed she is to live in the present.o She is a voracious reader. This is how she knows so much about history. At the same time, she has her head stuck in books so often that she misses out on the glory of the real world – and thus, the present.
o She is adventurous; she often creates scavenger hunts to ‘discover’ historical artifacts. For fun.o She loves her family and is prayerful (as demonstrated at the end of the story, as she prays to God to deliver her back to the present).
o She is very athletic. This is how she is able to trek on the Underground Railroad and not have her energy completely zapped.
 Poppy’s character arc/How would you describe the anticipated character arc for Poppy?
o The anticipated character arc for Poppy is that, at the start of the story, she is a naïve romanticizer of history who fails to value the blessing of the present (and that which was earned by those who came before her, such as Harriet Tubman). However, after experiencing the horrors of slavery firsthand (the lynchings, the mutilations, the wild dogs, the loss of her freedom...), she realizes that history isn’t as sweet as she’d once thought (and as was presented to her in the history books she’d so admired). She evolves to cherish the present and the freedom that it brings her.
 How much of the character action and intention is decided by the author vs viewer/user? What complexities are built into Poppy?
o A good amount of the character action and intention is decided by the viewer/user. While the character’s personality is established by the author for the viewer/user, the decisions from there-on out are mostly determined by the viewer/user. As example, in my Twine game, it was up to the user/viewer to decide whether or not Poppy would accept the task to return the manuscript, to run like Usain Bolt away from the wild dogs sent to kill her and the others on the route, etc. This balance between user/viewer choice and author choice allows for structure and consistency (author’s choice) but also agency (user/viewer choice).
o A complexity that is built into my character is the clear freedom that she has in the present (and those she loves and knows she loves in the present). This is complicated by the fact that she spends all of her time in the past (figuratively speaking). Another complexity is that her motivation changes during the story. At first, she loves the idea of being a part of the Mobley 4Underground Railroad (escaping slave hunters! Meeting Harriet Tubman!). This was part of her internal motivation (along with the love she has for her family) for returning the manuscript and joining Harriet Tubman’s route. However, by the end, Poppy is motivated by way of the theme (i.e., she realizes that she needs to return the manuscript to get back to the present because it is better than the past – the Underground Railroad is not as sweet as she had once thought).
 Will Poppy have the ability to change?
o Yes, Poppy will have the ability to change. Much of this is due to her young age (she is still open to change and new ideas) and her firsthand experiences with slavery – you can’t deny that which you yourself have experienced.
 What possibilities will Poppy have to change?
o Possibilities that Poppy will have to change are when she is faced with difficult decisions, such as whether to stick with Harriet on the Underground Railroad, and risk being stuck in the past forever, or to embark on her own – a dangerous journey but necessary if she truly wants to return to the present and see her family again. This is a crucial (possible) demonstration of Poppy’s possibility to change because it is a defining point that represents whether or not Poppy still romanticizes the past (as would be indicated if she risked her return to the present by sticking with the group).
 What struggles help demonstrate Poppy’s character/development?o Struggles that help demonstrate Poppy’s character/development include early on in the trip when Poppy decides to follow Harriet after being told not to. Because she follows Harriet, Poppy’s smell is picked up by a pack of wild dogs sent to track and kill the enslaved people. This results in the blinding and mutilation of one man at the hands (paws?) of the vicious Mobley 5dogs. Poppy’s naivety (her character) is demonstrated here. Because she fails to realize that history isn’t as sweet as she chose to believe, Poppy acts naively and puts everyone – including herself – in jeopardy. Later, Poppy and a friend of the same age search for food. They are chased by slave hunters. While Poppy is able to scramble up a tree and escape the slave hunters, her friend is not. Her friend is brought back to a plantation and whipped to death in front of the other enslaved people. History isn’t sweet.
o Poppy’s development is best demonstrated when she sets off on her own, rather than sticking with the group (and thus, indicating that she has learned her lesson – that the past is not as sweet as she had once thought and that there is great value in the present).
 What struggles/breaking point provoke Poppy to change?
o Poppy is provoked to change by all of the horrifying events that she witnesses on the Underground Railroad and en route to delivering the manuscript. I believe that the combination of everything Poppy witnesses creates a tipping point and causes her to realize the glory of the present. This tipping point is met when Poppy and the others stop at the plantation. It is as though every terrible action Poppy has seen thus far is being presented before her at this plantation – mutilations, human beings set on fire, whippings, lynchings... and no one seems fazed. Except for her.

John Maybery

by Khonza Masuku
Character intention is already decided. User may determine actions necessary though I would prefer this character in a non-interactive medium.
Name: John MayburyAge: 56Next of Kin:Louise Maybury wife of 33Job: Detective at the Hanover Police DepartmentYears of Service:35
Verbs (actions he tends to use to achieve goals):Cajole, Befriend, Sympathize, Comfort
Personality: Genial, Ebullient,
View of Himself: Caretake, Custodian
Motivation to be a Detective:Grew up in a service-minded family. His Christian upbringing has made him want to serve people. He sees the good in everyone and thinks people deserve second chances. He wants to keep peace and ensure that everyone gets along. Sees his job not as enforcement but as a way to create a more cohesive community.
Mental state: Content
Trigger:A Dartmouth student goes missing. She is later found dead. John is in charge to find the murderer. Since Hanover is not exactly a tourist destination, signs point to the killer being from around. One of John’s flock is a killer.
Through action (goal):To restore equilibrium.Possibility and opportunity for change:High. To bring back the peace he has committed his life to secure back, he will need to change his tactics and how he views himself. He will need to develop an aspect of him that sees his job as restorative justice not just caretaking and he will also need develop some sort of backbone that will allow him to be not easily dissuaded by people. He will also need to stop thinking of everyone as being as a good person.
Struggles: The case will stall out very quickly. There won’t be many leads. Some students will be cagey to hide their own indiscretions. There will be some hostility between the students and the town as both sides will secretly blame the other for the murder. Town events will be cancelled as the town cowers in fear. A few gun owners will want to take the matters on to their own hands despite John’s protestations.
Breaking point: Outside media starts tracking the case and the claim, which will come from a few students, that Dartmouth and the Hanover Police are in cahoots to bury this crime. They will point to Dartmouth’s history of ignoring crimes against women. For the first time in his life, John will find himself branded the enemy on the national press and therefore unable to be the caretaker he sees himself as.

The Protagonist

by Lorna McElrath
The protagonist of my story, The Parade,is supposed to be a pretty awful character, but here it goes anyways.
In both the traditional story form of my narrative, and the interactive experience, the character action and intention of the protagonist is solely decided by the author. The protagonist is complex in her inability to connect to other human beings. The reason behind this inability is not explained to the viewer/user, which is something that I’ve considered exploring/adding, although I almost think the story works better with it unexplained because the story is not about the protagonist overcoming this obstacle, but rather about her succumbing to it. An additional layer of complexity is added to the protagonist through the narrative style of the story. The story is narrated by an older protagonist, who is looking back on her life. This dynamic is not immediately evident, but rather unravels as you read the story. It also enables for powerful foreshadowing and a strong tone/voice throughout.
The protagonist does not have the ability to change in relation to her inability to connect to humans. In fact, this inability to change is ultimately what drives her mad. However, the protagonist does change throughout the story in how she respondsto her inability to connect to humans. This change is hinted at throughout the story with tone/foreshadowing but is revealed suddenly at the end when you realize that she has gone crazy and killed the people that she could never feel close to.
The plot is structured around moments in which the protagonist should have felt human connection and tried to, but ultimately couldn’t. So,every plot point/sceneand thus the whole story represents a moment when the protagonist is struggling to feel human connection.
It is when the protagonist is on the phone to her uncle, the uncle from the opening scene who marches in the parade, and she finds out her uncle has Parkinson’s Disease and yet she still can’t connectto him and feel any remorse or sympathy or anything humanthat she ultimately goes crazy. That’s the switch that finally does her in.
I think that this is a really tricky question for my protagonist. In some basic sense, at least chronologically, the story follows an arc where the protagonist continues to fail to feel human connection and finally snaps:
(drawing of mounting frustration)
But,I don’t quite feelthe building of theprotagonist’sfrustration with failing to connect with humans when I’m reading the story. The only really dynamic element of the protagonist is the foreshadowing/suspense through the narration. So I think that the protagonist’s character arc reads more like this:
(drawing of nearly flat frustration)
I’m not quite sure if this works as a character arc. I think that perhaps the suspense/foreshadowing of the narration is like a little pin that is holding the whole story together and making it work. However, if the reader is not drawn in by the foreshadowing/suspense, then the story is not appealing in the slightest, and the character is merely a passive shadow.


by Benjamin Montgomery
My characters name is Myles, and he has lost his wife in a car crash. He lives his days alone and drunk going to late night bars alone.
He works for construction and shoots the wolves that attempt to come after the humans on the reserves. He always carries his rifle with him to work and to the bars at night. Often he toils around with the idea of taking away his life because the pain is too much to bare. He carries a ratted half torn picture of her in her wedding dress in his right pocket.
Attached is a small letter on a note card that says the words, “As I stand here once moreAlone on this dayI look into your eyes and fall into a hazeOn this dayI fall into a haze On this day I live and die in your red haze”Myles is heading back to Canada for a weekend Job and the weather forecast doesn’t look good. With -25 wind chill in a blizzard storm heading in, he boards the plane.Myles often daydreams and he does so again on the plane.
Haunted with the recurring thought of his wife, a huge thud wakes him up. The plane is spiralling out of control andMyles blacks out. He wakes up with a sheet of snow covering half his body. He sits upand sees nothing but white. The mountains, trees, even the plane was all covered in white.He gets up and sees a huddle of four other men that he worked with together.Each of them having cuts and bruises all over their body.Myles Goal now is to simply find a way to survive with the other men.
Myles relationship to the other main characters, is that he used to be close with them. Once his wife died, he found himself alone. He distanced himself from them and now they are just his co-workers. The other workers are middle aged men. Some have families and some don't. They each have their own special qualities that make them unique but one thing they all have in common is that, that are blue collar. Think of a typical lumberjack and that's what you get to see in each of the other characters.
Myles has some similarities, but he does not have a personality anymore. He is emotionally disconnected. His personality has faded to the point where the only thing he has in common with the semen is that they were all about to be faced with life or death.A lot of Myle’s thoughts and actions are decided by the author and not the users. Based on Myles’s past and his own affliction; he is the way he is. Every decision he makes from now on will be based off of his survival in his life before, without his wife.
Whether Myles changes or not depends on how the story and its events play out. Myles has lost the ability to really feel at all. Maybe he has forgotten how. All of his love was invested in his wife. Now that he is in “survivor mode” it will be up to him whether he can learn to associate and care for others so they can all survive.In the story one the main issues besides the obvious, is the fact that there are packs of wolves everywhere.
These wolves are relentless and are a huge obstacles in terms of the groups survival. Even though the men all live in Alaska, none of them have any knowledge on survival in extreme conditions. I don’t believe anyone could blame them.It’s impossible to prepare for a plane crash in the middle of nowhere while there's an incoming blizzard storm with blood ravaging wolves. Because Myles grew up hunting and was in charge of protecting the humans and shooting wolves, he can use his instincts in order to know what to do. Being faced with this extreme situation, will push Myles to reach farther back to his past in order to will himself to lead and care for the semen. He will be forced to open up and talk more about who he is and why he is the way he is as the journey goes on. Change can be a hard thing for anyone. Myles was stuck in an empty cycle of drinking and suicidal thoughts. As Myles and the group go on their journey to reach survival, many different events lead to his breaking point. When he comes face to face with life and death, he knows that he wants to live. Being forced into this incredibly unlikely situation has encouraged Myles to feel again.
Through the journey he learned things about all four of the men. They all have their own pasts and the aren’t pretty either.Everyone hurts, and Myles knows that now.I would describe the anticipated arc for Myles as a “slow developing climax”. I say this because I feel that at the beginning of the story
Myles has already experienced traumatic loss. He is already starting in deep despair and emptiness. As each event in the story occurs Myles is pushed more and more. Myles constantly struggles with the memory of his wife and having the constant replay of the letter in his mind. Myles climax comes once all of the other men have been picked off by the pack. Throughout the journey Myles tried leading everyone the best way he knew how. He finds himself alone, emotionally, and physically damaged standing face to face with the alpha. This is where we find out if Myles will reach his goal of survival.

Kimberly Taylor

by Adam Reigler
Kimberly Taylor is a 29-year-old teacher and will eventually become an activist. She grew up in a small middle-class town in New Jersey. She achieved her dream of attending Penn undergrad and immediately was accepted into the internship program of a new and secretive startup involving sex robots that was run by a man who had made billions (almost overnight) from his electric cars and airplanes. Kim didn’t care that the company was inappropriate or demeaning, she wanted to be at the forefront of a technical revolution.
GOALS and OBJECTIVES Kim’s goal in life is to achieve financial success and become a notable figure who is associated with changing the world for the better. She believes that she was born in order to make something great happen and has worked her entire life to achieve that goal by getting good grades, going to an Ivy League school, and always working as hard as she can.
RELATIONSHIPSKim’s first major relationship with another main character in the story is with the billionaire, Chris Stevens. Chris is the CEO of Lifebot, the sex robot company, and a very notorious public figure with a great rags-to-riches story. In some ways, Kim admires him because he has everything she wants in life. For this same reason, Kim despises him as well. Kim also knows that something shady is hiding within Chris’ company, a trait which she does not respect. Because of this, her hate becomes stronger than her love. Another character who Kim becomes close with later in the series is Damian Jackson: a local resident of the small town in Michigan where she takes up residence once the robot crisis takes hold. Damian and Kim become allies and associates first but soon a friendship blossoms as well. They both believe that social change needs to occur quickly and that violent revolution is the only successful way to achieve that.
TRAITS Kim’s worst traits, and what holds her back in life, is her insistence that she is always smarter than everyone else and the deep and long grudges that she holds. Unfortunately, once she feels she has been slighted, Kim is unable to let a grudge go. She also believes that she knows everything and will imperil a mission in order to prove that she is correct, even if she is not. Otherwise, Kim is a good and hard worker. She deserves the successes she has been granted, but she is not extremely sociable and is bad at making lasting relationships. She mostly has tunnel vision that is centered on her own goals and ideals.
ARCKim believes that she will change the world when she gets the internship at Lifebot. But after finding out that the numbers don’t add up and submitting a report that states this, Kim is fired and silenced by the company’s powerful CEO. 15 years later, the state of the country has changed and Kim is forced to become an elementary school teacher in a tiny impoverished town in Michigan that lacks basic necessities. After realizing how corrupt the world is, she uses her insider knowledge to team up with other angry citizens and start a revolution against the government. But is she fighting for them or her own wishes and goal to become president?
How much of the character action and intention is decided by the author vs viewer/user? What complexities are built into your character? I think that most of the character action and intention is decided by the author. The audience just infers what they believe to be true. My character has many complexities and flaws that act as barriers between her and her goals. These include a closed off attitude and naiveté.
Will your character have the ability to change? Yes
What possibilities will your character have to change? She will have to learn how to make friends and deal with people for longer than ever before.
What struggles help demonstrate their character / development? The transition from having her life be on the complete right track, to her becoming an impoverished teacher (not her preferred profession) with no quality of life or way out.
What struggles/breaking point provoke your character to change? Kim is provoked to change when she realizes that there is no way her life will change to being even remotely livable, not even accomplishing her dreams, unless she acts in a completely new and different way.
How would you describe the anticipated character arc for you character? Answered above.


by Tamerick Simpson
The character’s name is Dustin. He is 24 years old, and has been in Atlanta for the past 3 years working as an accountant. While his life seems modest on the surface, those who know Dustin are aware of his troublesome activity. Since a youth Dustin has been a man of vices. Dustin’s upbringing was far from unstable, which could be used as reasoning for his bad habits. The mundane life of suburban Atlanta can lead kids into devious activities to pass the time.
When he was 15 Dustin began smoking weed with a few friends in his neighborhood. Senior year came around and he started drinking at house parties. College came around and opened the floodgates of madness. As a youth he had to hide his dirty deeds from his parents. Now out of the house, he had freedom to do anything without worrying too much about getting caught. He began to drink and smoke more frequently, which would serve as a gateway to riskier business. He would go on to try any hard drug you could think of; cocaine, ecstasy, acid, mushrooms, and even DMT. While he was able to stay afloat with such dangerous activity, Dustin physical and mental health are eventually at stake.
Dustin realizes his habits are getting the best of him, as his health is taking a toll on him. He wants to break away from his drug and alcohol abuse, but it proves to be a difficult battle. Somehow his parents are unaware of what is going on, and he is afraid to open up to them about his struggles. His girlfriend Summer is no help, as she enjoys some of the same habits and sees no issue with what he is doing. He knows that leaving her would help him change for the better, but his feelings for her are hard to overcome.
The drug habit gets to its breaking point once it affects Dustin livelihood. The hangovers cause him to miss days of work, and eventually leads him to a coma. In that coma he has a supernatural experience that serves as a turning point in his life. Dustin faces some difficulties in his path to sobriety, as he must let go of some relationships and step away from his job, but the road to recovery proves to be worth it.

Park Sanghoon

by Janine Sun
Sanghoon is Jihyun’s estranged father. He lives alone in Gangnam, Seoul in a one-bedroom apartment; he moved out of his former home in Incheon after the nasty divorce that was finalized a little over one year ago. He loves his daughter, but his ex-wife has custody, and his relationship with his ex-wife is tense to say the least. During his marriage, Sanghoon had a quick temper and is not very good at voicing his emotions (except anger), and tended to drink too much at business dealings (thereby arriving home drunk). Since the collapse of his family, Sanghoon has chosen to take his mind off things by throwing himself into work more than ever. He regularly goes on business trips, usually to large cities in East Asia, and rarely takes a day off. The work-related drinking hasn’t improved by much, but he’s been working on being more patient and saying what he feels. He’s been thinking about re-entering the dating scene. However, Sanghoon worries that he is losing his relationship with his daughter. Sanghoon hasn’t gone to visit his daughter in over six months, since his ex-wife makes doing so almost unbearable and Jihyun sits silently the entire time anyway. He doesn’t want to annoy her if she doesn’t want to speak to him, so he has become almost completely absent in her life, believing that it would be better to leave her with her mother.
Sanghoon has many opportunities to pick up the phone and call his daughter, or send her a message, or muster the courage for a visit, but struggles everytime due to his own fear and sense of inadequacy in his role as a father. On a business trip to Tokyo, he and three of his coworkers take a late train back to their hotel after a night of drinking with clients. They run into a young couple who boards the same train and sits across from them. The boyfriend strikes up a conversation with the four businessmen, but the girlfriend remains silent, watching. The girl is a similar age to his daughter, and bears a striking physical resemblance as well. Watching the young couple, he feels a flood of guilt and sadness at the thought that he is missing out on his daughter’s adolescence. This chance encounter with a young woman who reminds him of his daughter will drive Sanghoon to change and finally reach out to reconnect with his daughter. He must work hard to show her that he has grown and become more emotionally open in order for her to open up to him in turn, and he must also work to remedy his broken relationship with his ex-wife.

Supporting Character: Park Jihyun
Age: 17
Jihyun is Sanghoon’s estranged daughter. She lives in Incheon with her mother. She loves both of her parents, and finds it extremely difficult to watch her mother behave so coldly towards her father. Since her parents started fighting about two years ago, Jihyun has become quiet and withdrawn with her parents. She has maintained fairly good grades throughout high school despite her family situation due to her discipline, work ethic, and use of work as an escape mechanism (like father, like daughter). Her mother has custody, so she is forced to speak with her mother (even if she doesn’t want to), but she can never seem to find the words to speak to her father. She knows her silence is why her father no longer visits or calls, but she still wishes he would reach out. Her mother largely blames Sanghoo for the deterioration of their marriage (due to his emotional unavailability, anger issues, and drinking), but Jinhyun thinks they are both at fault. She knows if she reached out to her dad, she would upset her mom, and she would feel guilty contacting her father and keeping it a secret. As she prepares for college and leaving home, she wants her father to be more of a part of her life but doesn’t know where to start repairing relationships. After Sanghoon finally builds up to courage to contact her, she must work through her misgivings about her father and relearn how to trust him. Meanwhile, she must try to help her parents repair their relationship, so they can at least be civil.


by Mars Alvarez
Aelia is one of the characters that stands metaphorically for the human race in my myth. She symbolizes innocence, naivete, vitality, selflessness, and power, and ultimately becomes the deity that is water. She’s meant to be the active being in opposition to Lance, who’s meant to be the passive/dependent character. Aelia’s fatal flaw is her own desire to please and fulfill while not knowing how to ask for what she needs in return. On the other hand, Lance is meant to be the unintentional catalyst for everything. Both characters lacked foresight, but Lance faces the short term consequence while Aelia faces the long term. Although I believe humanity is more multifaceted than what two characters can represent, I wanted to focus on the duality of cause and effect.
Because of the format of my myth, most of the characters and their actions are already predetermined (this is a myth to be told in hindsight as a lesson) by the author, but I purposely positioned the story to have intent be neutral and disguised such that the viewer can decide for themselves. In my perspective, Aelia and Lance were both innocent and just dealt with the curse of mortality the best they could, but considering Lance’s infidelity and Aelia’s retaliation, it’s possible that the viewer can perceive either as a malefic.
Further, because of the format, I don’t think the characters will change anymore than they did in the storyline simply because I wrote Aelia to explain the unpredictability and danger of the water element. This allows the audience to make a connection with water as something that’s as fallible as humanity, and if we cannot depend on ourselves then we cannot depend on nature either.
Another distinguishing factor is how Lance and Aelia made their decisions as they were faced with them. Aelia didn’t have the confidence in herself to think about how becoming a deity could affect her. Lance didn’t have confidence in his emotions/relationship. Both made a promise they weren’t ready to keep. They both diverged at their breaking point (when the stone is recovered and Lance breaks it): Lance tried forgetting about his problems, while Aelia relinquished all her power to them. They both met their fate this way and the spirit of water, which was once a symbol of vitality, is complicated into an overboding force.
As far as the character arc goes, I would like to specify more about water and what it meant before/after Aelia. I took some advice from N. K. Jemisin’s talk and realized I need to build the world around the characters more while understanding it’s not a one-way street as to who affects what. If anything, water itself as a figure will take on its own identity as a good thing versus bad thing after Aelia’s involvement, while maybe diving deeper into Lance’s struggle with his emotions.

World Building & Immersion

Design a concept for an interactive mediated reality experience designed to address a local challenge here at Dartmouth or in Hanover. Constrained by prompted themes (or a theme of your choice, pending review) and locations, you will describe the sensing/interactive environment, the rules of the world, and the user experience. How can you use change how people interact or see their physical world? Can you develop a theme through a physical experience? What are the new rules of this world?

Stories as systems.

How do you create a consistent story world?

How does your voice shape the worlds you create?

How can you use a systems approach to world building to deliver multiple stories within the same world across different media?

How can immersion and sensorial experiences enhance world building and storytelling?

From VIRTUAL to REAL, FS 44 students took field trips to experience how rules and technology impact story worlds and engender interaction.

Explore Speculative Dartmouth created by FS 44 students as they reimagined spaces around campus and town to create a more inclusive community.

(Click on the heart icons on the map below to read about these re-envisioned spaces.)

New Media Concept Development

Each student will develop and write a concept pitch, and design it along with visual references, for a project of their own design. You will develop and refine your key concept elements with a small team of students and then individually produce a full concept pitch that includes the key story elements explored in the course and practiced in earlier assignments, including scenario, character, world description, theme, tone with accompanying visual references. The concept pitch should convey the user experience, along with a sense of what type of technology/sensors/interactivity is used to produce this experience.

What new stories can you tell?

How do you write a concept for something that hasn't been created before?

How does the experience unfold?

What technology is required?

What is the nexus of interaction?

What does it all feel like?

What types of story elements will hook people in?

Adam - Final Presentation Film 44.mp4

Aritrika - Lost Saddles Pitch.pptx

Dominique - Poppy's Travels Concept Pitch FINAL - Dominique Mobley - 11-17-19, Sun (1).pptx

Eli - Virtual Dream.pdf

she was the universe final
Janine - FILM 44.06 Final Concept Pitch.pptx

Khonza - Bonfire Night-1.pptx

Social Media and Self.pdf

Madeline - Final Pitch.pptx

TJ - Inner City Blues (Concept Pitch).pdf

ARiel Final Concept Pitch - Being Passive in an Agressive World .pptx

Abigail - Final Project Draft.docx

Monty - Lucid Life.pdf

James - Storytelling Final Project Final Draft.docx

FS 44 Syllabus THEORY MEETS PRACTICE - Storytelling in the Digital Age

FS 44 – Storytelling in the Digital Age