An Unusual Valentine

The Valentine design assignment asks us to

Create you very own Valentines Day cards. Go ahead and make a funny spoof valentine that would make people laugh! Use at least one image and modify it in some way to create a cool effect. Afterwards, go ahead and send that baby out to people who would get a kick out of it. You can be sentimental if you want to, but funny cards are prefered!

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To make it, I followed the process.

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I started off with a random image I had on my computer, which I pasted into a Drawing in a document on Google Drive. For more details on this process, reference my other posts: its really not that complicated!
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Then I clicked on the textbox option, which lets you draw a textbox wherever you want with editable text.
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I drew the textbox by dragging the cursor to expand the textbox. To move it around afterward, just select it by clicking on it, and then drag the textbox until its in the desired position.

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Click on “More” while the textbox is selected, and it gives you the text editing options.

Soundtrack of the Mind

I combined the audio assignments Sound Effects and Poetry Reading, which respectively say:

This is a short and simple assignment. Most everyone uses freesound for various audio assignments, but sometimes, you cannot find quite what you are looking for. This assignment is to upload your own sound or sound effect to freesound, preferably something which is lacking.


Poetry is meant to be read aloud. Select a poem – it can be a personal favorite or one you find randomly – and read it aloud in a way that itself makes it a story. Then at the ending of that poem extend it or connect it to a story — this has to be more than just reading a poem to be a story.

I think they work better together and in the context of a story, since the sound effects can be used to tell a story and the reading of a poem can in and of itself be a sound effect, especially with a very abstract poem like “Aquatic Nocturne” by Sylvia Plath.

It goes like this:

Aquatic Nocturne

deep in liquid
turquoise slivers
of dilute light

quiver in thin streaks
of bright tinfoil
on mobile jet:

pale flounder
waver by
tilting silver:

in the shallows
agile minnows
flicker gilt:

grapeblue mussels
dilate lithe and
pliant valves:

dull lunar globes
of blubous jellyfish
glow milkgreen:

eels twirl
in wily spirals
on elusive tails:

adroir lobsters
amble darkly olive
on shrewd claws:

down where sound
comes blunt and wan
like the bronze tone
of a sunken gong.

As mentioned previously in this post and this other post, I love Sylvia Plath’s dark and intense poetry about subjects like depression and alienation. But I also love some of her more beautiful, gentle poems on subjects such as the children, beekeeping, and the ocean. In particular, this poem uses beautiful language that evokes the sights, sounds, and motion of the marine landscape, which I incorporated into the story, as well as resembling the vivid, sensory, surrealist tone I like to give my writing. The title itself is especially poetic, since a nocturne is a song that praises the nighttime.

To create the work itself, I recorded a number of different sounds


A Slightly Ingenious Way of Exposing the Setting

The most useful piece of media in my story would have to be the poster I made based on the Design Assignment Vintage-ify A Place. Its pretty interesting to begin with.

Richmond Outside and Firefly Design, Inc. teamed up to create vintage-like prints of some favorite spots along the James in Richmond, VA.  Based on the WPA National Park posters of the 30s and 40s, these RVA posters add retro flair to some of the city’s popular spots.

Is there a jewel in your city or town?  What about an infamous spot?  Is there a fictional place that deserves its own retro poster?  Get to work!

But it also works perfectly for my story to subtly explain about the setting. The story centers around the fountain in City Square, where the protagonist discovers a special secret: there are dolphins who live in the water. However, introducing this place is a little hard; I’m tempted to get sidetracked explaining what it looks like and its history. This poster can do that without forcing the information on the reader, but instead presenting it in a visually-interesting way that lets the reader explore the information, and making it easy to find for reference. I will be using this strategy in my “real” writing (stuff written for the sake of publishing).

Here’s how I did it!


Step 1: Import Image

Because this is a full length tutorial, I’m going to include everything. That means finding the image is included too.

I went to Google Image Search and googled “dolphin fountain”, then selected images that are “Labelled for reuse with modification” on the menu bar, according to Google. The search yielded these results.

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I selected this image.


To see it up close, first I clicked on the image.

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To import this image into WordPress and for editing in Google Drive, I right-clicked for the menu that allows you to copy the image URL.

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If this doesn’t work for you, you can just open up the website and click on the picture, or try the Open image in new tab option on the same menu, then copy the URL from the box.

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As promised, it should open a new tab.

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Just copy the address in the address bar above the image by right-clicking for this menu, and clicking on Select all. Alternatively, you could just right-click and hit Ctrl+A on your keyboard, assuming its a PC.

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Then of course, hit Copy!

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To import the image, paste that URL address as follows into a Drawing in a Google Document on Google Drive.

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And the image is successfully imported into a Drawing.

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Step 3: Overlaying Text

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A Little Slice of the Starry Night

Using Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting The Starry Night, I did the visual assignment Adapt an Artist’s Work for my final project story. The assignment asks us to:

Adapt a famous artist’s work to change or reinforce its possible message.

Here’s what I did:

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I incorporated it partly because I couldn’t photograph the moon in the right phase on such short notice, and partly because the painting style goes nicely with the surreal aesthetic of my story.

This is the original painting.


I found it on the Wikipedia page for the painting.

If you click on the image, it tells you the copyright info. In this case, its available for any use.


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With that, you should be able to take any image of a piece of art and adapt it with a Drawing in Google Drive.

Mermaid-Marine Biologist

I decided to incorporate video into my story by doing the Your Dream As A Movie Trailer video assignment, but from the perspective of my protagonist instead of myself. Once again, it serves an expository purpose in the story, providing background information without adding any more to the word count and what feels like an excess of explaining things.

The assignment says:

We all have a dream of what our life could be. We find this in children especially. But we all hold dreams of what we may become.

Through photos and videos, music and text, put together a :30 trailer to tell the story of your life dream. I used iMovie for a template and created the dream of my child, who wants nothing more than to go into outer space. I created a short story arc and filled it with magic and wonder. It doesn’t have to be about how you will achieve that dream, just what it will look like on your journey there or what it is once you have it. Use your imagination to tell your story, however you dream it up.

This is especially relevant to my story because the protagonist’s desired career represents something important about her perspective, her ambitious and independent personality, her flaw of stubbornness, and her motivation, as well as the conflict with other people that results from her revealing herself. In short, basically its very her.

In the story, its explained as being her school project, and its mention is used to advance the plot as well as to characterize another character (her brother) by his response.




A Concise Ending to a Long-Winded Tale

So maybe my word count ballooned out-of-control, in part because I wanted to make sure to thoroughly develop a conflict. So I was inspired by the 1 Second Video assignment to finish off my story quick, wordless way that would leave the future vague but the conclusion clear. Its a little longer than one second, but operates on the idea.

Its a fascinating assignment that poses a single, simple question:

How much of a story can you tell in a 1 second video? Inspired by this:

I took a video of myself writing out the words that the protagonist leaves the world before going on her quest.

To Read More: My Clever Little Add On

Although its not technically part of my narrative, I added on one more assignment in the design category. Its called Book Artist, and as per the name it asks you to:

Re-design your favorite book cover!


In GIMP/Photoshop/any image editor of your choosing, create a new book cover for your favorite story! Imagine that there’s a new, special edition of the tale coming out, and YOU are the special, super awesome artist who has been chosen to design the new look!

In this case, instead of using a favorite book, I used an imaginary book that contains my story and what happens afterward.

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I made my tutorial in slideshow format this time, just to change things up one last time. It was a little more effort, but probably a lot easier to navigate that cumbersome long posts.

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Aquatic Nocturne: The Beginning of a Quest

After waiting, and waiting, and waiting, the sun finally started to set. I’d been watching out the window all day, painting the sky as it shifted gently between colors and light.

time of day

I was waiting for the moon to rise. That day, I knew it would be a small yellow crescent if it showed at all from observing the cycles night after night.

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Under the dim light, it would be nearly impossible for mom and dad to see me scramble down the side of the patio. Once down there, it would be easy to slither off into town. I knew my way without a map or even a flashlight–it was natural, like swimming for a fish, or migrating for a bird, or crawling to the sea for a seaturtle.

The water in the fountain always called to me, particularly on a night like this when the ocean would be in low tide. (I still don’t know whether there was ever a connection: even my best friend would think it was a little ridiculous to believe I could sense the tides.) Everything from my day felt like a tease, from the sound of the bathtub running to the clinking of the rocks I held in my hand to the brilliant glossy illustrations of the ocean and poetry I was studying for school.

The fountain looked more beautiful than ever today, more beautiful even than the picture of when it was first built that hangs outside City Hall.


I climbed up the side to sit on the stony edge, where you could not only hear the water, but feel its vibrations as you looked into the dark depths. I wondered to my myself how deep it really was to get that opaque blue color, full of shadows. Sometimes I would watch the shadows circulate and imagine them being animals swimming below the surface, or think of when I was little and thought the little splashes from underneath were from dolphins trying to leap out.

I’d even fall asleep sometimes. This night, I had the strangest dream.

There were dolphins leaping out of the water!


The dream recurred every time I went to the fountain that month. Could it be that I wanted so badly to be a diver that my subconscious permanently fixated on the subject in the presence of moving water? It had only been a school project, I thought to myself.

your dream as a movie trailer

I wanted to tell mother about it, but I couldn’t mention anything of the kind to my mother. My brother had explained why after I made the “What I Want to Be” project.

“You know how we only have one grandmother?” He whispered to me one night.

“Yeah?” I replied. It hadn’t occurred to me then that I should have two. At that age I think children just accept how their family is as normal, or maybe I was just a particularly distracted child.

“You see, mom used to have a mother of her own.”

“She did?” I was confused. “Where is she?”

“She died when our mom was very little. She, uh, drowned while swimming on the beach one night.” He looked into my eyes. “So mom doesn’t like to think about the ocean or anything that reminds her of it. She gets really upset about it if you even mention it. Dad too. That’s why we moved out here in the mountains.”

“Oh,” was all I could think to say. I didn’t even remember living anywhere else; it was strange to think about.

“So do you promise to never mention it? I just didn’t want you to show your project to mom and get her in a bad mood.”

“I won’t.” I promised.

“Thanks sis.” He whispered back to me, and immediately left.

I kind of found myself wishing that he had stayed a minute longer. It was lonely, keeping a secret. Maybe I could have told him. Although then again, I didn’t want to tell Jacob something that would make him think I was insane, since then he might not cover for me when I leave the house at night like he’s been doing for years.

I laid there, wishing that it would at least rain. I was just itching to find out what was happening. But instead I fell asleep in the breathless hot air.


Now that summer was here, I would put my feet in the fountain when I went. The water somehow stayed cool even though the concrete around it sizzled with heat. It was days like this that Jacob and I had wished we had a pool like everyone else in the neighborhood. I half-wished he was still young enough to want to go swimming, instead of studying for college until mom found him dozing off in his chair. I guess I’d have to bring someone else along.

It occurred to me that maybe I could make sure I stayed awake by taking some of Jacob’s study pills. So I took those before going to my room after dinner. Mom was proud of me.

“See, you will be able to study to be a doctor!”

I climbed up a level, where the water splashed all around. I didn’t want anyone to see me from the road, which now seemed to have the occasional car even at night. And there they were, leaping majestically out of the water with splashes that looked like quicksilver in the faint glow of the stars.

“Come with me” whispered a voice. I looked around dizzily.

Next thing I knew, I was hurtling into deep blue waters on the back of a dolphin.


There are no words in the world to describe what I saw on the other side of the water. A world of brilliant colors, slinking shadows, sparkling sand, and dizzying distances. And of course, dolphins in every direction, leaping into the sky, and dancing underwater in fields of bubbles. Everything looked photorealistic–more so than anything I’d ever seen.

Naturally, I returned the next night, hoping the same thing would happen. When no dolphins appeared, I tried leaping into the water. I got a face full of concrete. Almost immediately after realizing I was injured, I told mom that I’d accidentally bumped my head on my desk. The next night there was no luck. Nor the next, or the next, or the next, or the next. I soon realized it must have just been a dream because of those pills and bought some of my own.

I liked to roll them in my hands. They were like little pearls to wash down with a sip of water. And soon they’d wake me up so I could keep going through the days and nights visiting the fountain. Now that mom was busier with work, I liked to go every night.

That night wasn’t supposed to be any different.


I snuck out, as per usual, locking my door. I was so glad that now mom and dad thought I was old enough to deserve some privacy. I was still working up the courage to ask them if I could go an oceanography trip, but I thought maybe this would be the year. In the middle of town there was the fountain, lit up like the moon, its waters bursting forth.

That’s when I heard a sound behind me.

“Cynthia Madelyn Morgan! What do you think you’re doing?”

I was caught, finally.


“Do you want to know what really happened with our other grandmother?” I heard a voice whisper in my ear. In the dim light of my new room (with no windows) I could see Jacob’s face.

“What?” I murmured sleepily. “Do you know what time it–?”

“Shh! Do you want to know or not.”

“No.” I said. “I’m tired of all of this. No one considers my feelings–”

“Cindy, will you just listen? I’m sorry I woke you up, okay? I’m usually up at this time so…”

“Fine.” I admitted. So maybe I was curious.

“She killed herself.” He stated. “She killed herself by jumping into the ocean.”


“What?” I half-yelled. Jacob shushed me.

“I didn’t want to tell you because you were still a kid back then. But I’m telling you now. I never thought you’d try to kill yourself, but I guess its the crazy streak that runs in the family. Don’t do it sis. Promise me?”

“I wasn’t trying to kill myself! How many times do I have to tell you, I was just jumping in to swim.”

“Just promise?” he said, looming over me.

“How do you even know about this anyway?” If I knew one thing about my parents, its that they didn’t like to tell us anything we didn’t “need” to know.

“Because I was there!”

A silence fell between us.


“I wasn’t supposed to be. Grandma kept telling me about mermaids and how she was going to go visit some where she was going. I wanted to come along, so I snuck out to follow her to the pier. There–there was a storm outside. Black clouds and everything.”

“What happened?”

“Grandpa tried to convince her to stay, get help, that he loved her, and mom and dad were there too. But they couldn’t stop her. I wish I’d come out from hiding then, so I could have tried, but I was scared mom and dad were going to be mad. But I’m telling you Cindy–just don’t.” He held up the cross on his necklace so that the light from the hallway shone through it.


“I won’t ever kill myself, okay?” I promised.

But I knew my grandmother hadn’t. She was going back to the sea. And so would I, one day.


I didn’t know why I hadn’t left yet. There was nothing in this society that made me want to stay. It seemed that every year since the incident, my parents grew more and more protective, and life worse and worse. There comes an age when adults stop trying to help you enjoy your life and instead actively conspire to make it miserable. Also, there comes an age when you realize that adults are wrong about many things too.

I was excited for Valentine’s Day not out of any notions of romance, but because tonight there would be a protest in town against pollution. I figured it was a flyer lodged in the crack of my locker.

But this is what I found instead:

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I looked on the back for a clue, but all I found was a note that said “I’ve had a crush on you for a long time now. If you like me back, would you meet me at the Township Cafe this afternoon.”


Precisely because this was the kind of thing my mother would never approve of, I decided on impulse to meet him. There was no one there though, except a boy being yelled at by the manager. He had shaggy dark hair and piercing electric, greenish eyes.

“Why hello Cindy!” the manager turned to me. “How are you?”

“I’m good.” I mumbled. I didn’t really like him.

“Cythnia,” the boy said quietly, “its me.”

“Oh, um hi.” I stuttered. I suddenly felt very self aware. It was an uncomfortable feeling, like being naked. We stared at each other for a minute before I ordered our food and said “lets go sit down.” He nodded and followed me to the veranda.

“I’m Calian. Sorry for not telling you my name earlier: I just didn’t want anything to happen to my family if you were upset about the note.”

“I’m not upset.” I said. “Why would I be?”

“You kicked the other boy.” He said very quietly.

I blushed. I didn’t think everyone in town knew about the incident. I’d never even seen this guy before. I let out an awkward laugh. “I just, um, well he was kind of a jerk. He catcalled me. Uh, so, how do you know me?”

“I saw you at the protest.”

I suddenly felt much better about myself. Soon we were reminiscing about the “Save the Wildlife” protest. Apparently he loved the piece I wrote.

“So, why haven’t I seen you around?” I found myself asking as I finished my sandwich.

“Oh, we just moved here.”

“Cool, from where?” I replied conversationally.

“I come from Afghanistan.”

I suddenly realized why I wouldn’t know him.

“O-oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize–”

“Please don’t go.” He asked, eyes wide.

“I’m not.” I reassured him. “I just meant I was sorry about the war and stuff. You don’t have to talk about it.”

For the first time in a long time, I was tempted to tell my secret.


I have to admit I was wrong about people. Things were different with Calian–we could talk all night about his old home, his cheery town where the kids all played outside til dark and the festivals were loud and boisterous affairs with music, lanterns everywhere, and the smell of food cooking outside, and how he got involved in many movements because of the things he’d seen with his dazzling green eyes.

I finally told him my secret, and rather than thinking I was insane, he said, “The world is a strange place, sometimes.”

“That’s it?” I asked. “You’re not gonna tell me your opinion?”

“I don’t know what’s true. But if you want to go, you should go. Its your life.”


Late that night, I sat with the fancy letterhead my mother used for important letters, trying my best to neatly write the final words they would hear from me in a while.

I left it in the mailbox as I headed out into the night, quietly closing the door behind me. I finally knew why I couldn’t go before…and why I had to go now.

The fountain looked more beautiful than ever when I dove in.

End of Part I

To read more, look out for this book by S. Gupta:

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The Story Behind My Story: Week 5 Weekly Summary

Finally, the part I’ve been waiting for! This week was by far the best of Digital Storytelling: we got to actually tell a digital story. I spent a couple days just brainstorming and evaluating all the ideas I had before I came up with my final story.

I entitled it “Aquatic Nocturne” for the Sylvia Plath poem of the same name that I used in the audio component of the assignment.


For the audio aspect of my story, I made a soundtrack that consists of sounds that remind me of the ocean and water in general, including running and splashing water, clinking pebbles, and opening umbrellas, interspersed with reading of the poem. Each sound was incorporated into the story itself. I was inspired by the 3 star assignment Sound Effects to put each sound component on freesound and used the poem just like in the 2 star Poetry Reading assignment.



To incorporate visuals into my story, I took a series of photographs to illustrate my story. Its embedded as a slideshow via my Flickr.(After failing to do that for both my Photo Blitz and Design Blitz, I finally figured out how to do it! I fixed those retroactively this week.) The photos I took were put into a slideshow, inspired by the Time of Day assignment, worth 4 stars.


I also edited Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting Starry Night to only include the moon, drastically changing how it appears, as per the 3 star assignment Adapt an Artist’s Work.



I incorporated the the Your Dreams as a Movie Trailer video assignment as well as the 1 second video video assignment, worth and 2 stars.




I incorporated the design assignment Vintage-ify a Place (3 stars) to show the setting of my story. I came up with the story concept based on an image I dreamt, so I wanted to incorporate it somewhere with information about the place, so it worked out well.


I also used another design assignment, Valentine, worth 4 stars.


At the end of my story, I designed a book cover for a full-length book developing this story concept, based on the assignment Book Artist for 3.5 stars.



Overall, Digital Storytelling was a great experience. I struggled with the workload, but it got to be more manageable. However, I wish we had fewer, but bigger projects, and had gotten to explore more of the different assignment types.

For this week, I was confused to see that the date and time for the Week being due say Thursday July 23rd and 5PM. I thought our work was always due at midnight and planned accordingly, and furthermore, I’m unsure whether Thursday was meant (as in the video) or July 23rd, so I’m just submitting now and continuing to work.