Hey guys. a Critter here. I’ve been poking around on the various social media sites, looking at comments and things about Ep 88. And I’ve found some things that are, well …. they’re not us.
Something happened to our fandom last night. Something I am worried about. We lost our #NicestFandom sticker. And I mean this is beyond mean Twitch chat blather (we all know Twitch chat is ridiculous and to stay away if you want to retain your sanity and love of the game). Here, I’ll give an example.
Yes, that’s actually Matt, and he’s doing something he shouldn’t have to: he’s having to pull his DM tone on the Critters to defend Marisha. And I don’t mean explaining a rule bend or excusing an ability botch. People, people in the Critter Community, are flat out saying Marisha was basically drunk and she should stop drinking. Personally, I’ve never seen Matt bite back like this, and that scares me. He shouldn’t have felt like he had to at all. I know Marisha/Keyleth gets a lot of negative backlash, even hate, but it should have never gotten to this kind of level.
Beside the fact that Matt said from the get-go that it was a long week and that he and Marisha were both tired already, it wasn’t just them. And I don’t think it was just the episode either (as a doozy as it was). Everyone looked so exhausted. People were grumpy. Enthusiasm for even good things was almost nonexistent.
I guess I’m laying all this out to say … I for one think maybe our beloved players and our amazing DM should maybe take some time off from Critical Role. I feel like they might have reached a point where they need a break, without it meaning that they’re going to be at a con or doing something. Just a break, a breather. It’s been go go go for months know, all stress and plots and do-or-die, all-or-nothing, everything-on-the-line action and battles. Our DM is tired. Our players are tired. Our fandom is tired. I think we might need a week off for a nap or something.
I’m wondering what the fandom at large would think of this. I’m also wondering, if there was a positive/agreeing feedback, if we could let them know and maybe they could get a real breather (cause I don’t think that ep was what any of us thought was going to happen)
How about it, Critters? Would we be willing to give our players a rest without fussing, if they decided they wanted/needed it?
The sneeze is brutal, even if he’s been expecting it for some time. The annoying, tingly sensation on the back of his throat had been a dead giveaway, as well as the itching inside his nose. Matt felt the bastard coming long before it happens.
But even prepared for it, it takes him by surprise.
And God, he hates it.
His temples throb, his throat hurts, and his nose is dripping. Disgusted, he promptly dabs at it with his too abused tissue, thinking that he needs to change it soon. It’s so wet, it’s almost useless.
The sniffing noise he makes then is rather pathetic, if he’s being honest with himself.
“Bless you,” Keith says at his side, voice nasal.
“Thanks,” Matt grumbles, sniffing again. “I hate being sick,” he moans, discarding the sodden tissue and extracting a new one from the box they’ve been sharing.
He blows his nose and relishes the brief moment in which he’s able to feel fresh air entering through his nostrils. It’s over before he can actually enjoy it, though, and he scowls to show the world his misery.
“I know,” Keith says drily, but the tone lacks his usual grumpiness.
In fact, he’s smiling, and Matt thinks he looks beautiful even with a red nose and sunken gray-blue eyes.
(Ahah u m uh? I wrote a ficlet??? I guess lol, got to thinking while i was washing dishes.)
After the fight on the rooftop with the Hand, they see each other again for a few times, and Frank either helps or he kills, there’s never really an in between. Matt seems to have realized that’s it’s inevitable, they are on the same side but walk different paths, though there are nights where he wonders. Just where’s a man like Frank to go, when the whole world misunderstands him? And it’s only after meeting Matt in the streets in broad daylight, that he breaks into his apartment while he’s gone. More battered than he can take, he tracks a bit of blood here and there, and he has no medical supplies where he’s cooped up so he figures Red has to have something, anything to take the edge off.
Surprisingly enough he finds Matt’s apartment cozy, in a way Matt can’t because he’s always so perceptive of what’s happening outside of it. Eventually after taking a beer from Matt’s fridge and fixing up his wounds he sits down on his couch, lays in it, he should leave, he got what he wanted, but he likes the comfort, the pause of deliberation. If Matt catches him here why should he care? Not much he could do about Frank’s presence in the first place and he certainly wasn’t a threat to the other vigilante.
When Matt gets home, slightly bruised by another fight, his body is still alight with the vibrations in the air. He is able to easily pick up Frank’s slowing heart beat in his apartment. There shouldn’t be anyone in there, he’s cut off anyone who would even bother coming in, and if they did they certainly wouldn’t stay to sleep. He’s stops for a moment when he jumps on his own rooftop, trying to place the breath, the single steady heartbeat within its walls. There were worse things to show up to his own home. When he opens the window the body stirs slightly and the groan in the voice tells him immediately that it’s Frank, it’s undeniably Frank. He doesn’t wake up, so Matt just paces around him slowly, smelling the blood, the alcohol he used to clean his wounds, used gauze from some useless first aid kit he bought eons ago.
For some strange reason, Matt doesn’t think he’d want it to be anyone else but Frank here. For one, he’s not out there killing anybody, and two, he doesn’t think he’d trust anybody else to see him like this, the real him, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s almost as if he wants Frank here, needs someone that lets him know that he’s not fighting this fight alone even if they go about it different ways. After that night Frank comes by more often, and Matt never really minds.
Excuse me. I was wondering what type of story telling methods you use? I noticed you have quite an intricate way of telling stories. I was wondering what comes to mind or what you apply to a story you make up.
I don’t know if I have a method, actually? Hahaha. I’d be interested to know what you think is intricate though, hahshdfh.
Generally speaking you can use the Three-Act Structure as a good basis for telling a coherent story, but obviously there are other ways to do it.
I have a tag called #important film stuff where I’ve been reblogging posts about film and storytelling and junk. You might wanna’ check that out too!
The closest thing I have to a method involves this:
1. Introduce main character/characters in a way that is entertaining, active, and catches people’s attention. Don’t start on something boring and overdone like a morning routine, unless you’re specifically setting out to deconstruct that trope.
2. Let that character have a few moments of acting. People like to see characters with personality, flaws, quirks, habits. It makes them interesting and relatable.
3. Don’t bore people with exposition. If you have to drop an exposition bomb, at least find an interesting way to do it. Maybe you get the information you need from a newscaster on TV in the background, or a banner hanging on a wall. (I’m actually really bad at this. Half of W2H is just Mephistopheles standing there explaining shit.)
4. A MONTAGE SET TO INDECIPHERABLE IRISH FOLK ROCK IS AN EXCELLENT WAY TO CRAM NECESSARY CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT INTO YOUR FILM WHEN YOU’RE TOO SHODDY OF A WRITER TO FIND A MORE EFFECTIVE, POIGNANT WAY.
5. Your conflict can come from an internal force or an external force, or both. Sock’s conflict is internal. I think having an internal conflict makes characters more relatable and enjoyable, so even if I’m using both, I like to focus more on the internal conflict. I’d never write a story that was exclusively external conflict. Not saying it can’t be done, or done WELL, I’m just saying that I’m not particularly interested in writing them. (Side note: One of my favorite movies is Cloverfield, don’t laugh. It’s a disaster movie, so the conflict is external, but the thing that drives the story isn’t the giant monster attacking the town; it’s the characters actively deciding to go back for their friend rather than run for their lives. The last line of boring teenage partying before the monster attacks is literally “you gotta learn to say ‘fuck the world’, and hang on tight to the people you love”. And that’s precisely how the movie ends, the world collapsing around two people in love. That’s literally all it takes to get me to give a shit about a disaster movie. Simple stuff.)
6. This is kind of a follow up, but characters should have relatively clear motives. You can definitely write a character who’s motives are intentionally unclear, but it would have to be for a specific reason; either they’re the villain, or they’re an anti-hero, or their identity is actually a secret and you’ll reveal it later. You shouldn’t just have a character do something aimlessly. Even a character who’s whole shtick is wandering aimlessly and having wacky adventures has a motive: living life to it’s fullest. Don’t let characters just be plot devices! I think this is especially handy for writing good villains; why do they want to take over the world? No one just wants to take over the world for no reason. The only exception for a character just being evil for the sake of being evil is MAAAAYBE, maybe if they’re the Devil. (And even then, idk, I put probably more thought into Mephistopheles’ backstory than I have any other character. No excuses!) Bottom line: If you’re writing a character-heavy story, let the characters drive the plot.
7. This one isn’t mine, this is actually something Matt Stone and Trey Parker said, but I think it’s good: When you’re writing a story, write out a little summary or a chart of what happens, chronologically. If you find yourself putting mostly “and then”, “and then”, “and then”, between plot points, go back and start over. You should be able to put “BUT then”, and “therefore” between most of your plot points. Characters actions should have a clear cause and effect on the story. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of random shit happening.
8. This is probably kind of pandering and horrible, and it’s definitely one of my biggest self-critiques, but I tend to write characters with the knowledge that I’m giving the audience a little bit of shipping fuel, and that’s going to help them care about their relationship. I mean, I’d obviously draw the line at deliberate queer-baiting or whatever, but if your story DEPENDS on establishing characters’ feelings for each other, sometimes all it takes is a smile or a laugh or a blushu. They don’t even need to share ~a moment~, it can be something really stupid and simple. Audiences will pick that shit up, even if it’s subtle. The kind of audiences who are THIRSTY for it will pick it up and run with it and never let it go. (This can probably work with any relationship. It doesn’t need to be romantic.)
9. Plants and Payoffs!! You can drop something early on in the story and then have it sprout up again towards the end. Maybe a character learns a piece of information and then uses it towards the climax, or maybe it’s something simple like a joke or a conversation between two characters that one of them experiences first hand later on. Little ways to tie the elements of the story together! (In W2H, you might consider Meph’s puns a plant and payoff, though not a very satisfying one. Sock gets used to hearing him make dumb jokes, so he assumes Meph’s always joking. At the end, he wasn’t.)
10. I like endings that aren’t 100% happy? I like endings that have a little bit of compromise, or leave you wanting more, or leave you FEELING a THING, really strongly. That thing doesn’t necessarily have to be a sparkly happy thing though. BUT!! It also kinda depends on the story? I liked Warm Bodies because it was basically the reverse of that; they took the bleak zombie apocalypse movie that I’m getting super bored with and turned it into a charming thing with a positive outlook. It’s still apocalyptic and spooky but it’s also fucking adorable??? Idk. It’s just nice to be surprised and caught off guard every now and then.
I’VE HAD THIS OPEN FOR LIKE … 2 OR 3 DAYS??? I keep coming back to write more and I could probably keep going but I’m gonna’ stop. Idk if this helps, like, LITERALLy at all. But there you have it! Those are some things that I think are good to know about storytelling. It’s definitely not a rulebook and it’s definitely not thorough, but I hope it helps!
a little tribute to Eddsworld. Come to think of it, Eddsworld is one of the main reasons I started to draw and I’m sad to see it go, but I also understand. I thought Tom and Eddie did a wonderful job in trying to keep the world going, and I hope everyone involved in the show is happy with the ending. I may or may not have cried a bit. Thank you, Edd.
Okay, I know I touched on this in my latest fic, but Matt’s approach to decision-making fascinates me and I wanted to examine it in a more explicitly and rambly meta fashion.
Matt, love him as I do, is not one for forethought. This is because Matt is so values-focused that he can’t think beyond a vague “I need to help innocent people.” Matt actually says something similar to Claire in ep 4 when she asks him what his end game is: “I just wanted to make my city a better place, that’s all.” This extreme focus is something that’s pointed out by multiple characters. Claire points it out in ep 4, and in ep 10, Foggy criticizes Matt for not thinking about what would happen if he got caught. Matt is an intelligent guy, so it’s not like this lack of forethought is out of laziness – I think it stems from how Matt makes decisions (or rather, how he doesn’t make them).
Just look at this still from ep 6 (the cap is a bit dark, but if you watch the scene you can see what I’m talking about):
This is Matt directly facing the consequences of his vigilantism. He’s about to be arrested by (what he thinks at the moment are honest) cops, he is about to lose everything. And yet he seems…frozen. To me, the look on his face is more than just shock – it’s like Matt’s not even processing what’s happening. I think this lack of processing is because the consequences of wearing the mask had never occurred to Matt. And even now, in this moment, they’re still not occurring to Matt. He cooperates with the police as if he’s moving in a dream, and that dream is only popped once Matt finds out that he can take out his arresters while still being morally right. The contrast between Matt pre-”popping” (dreamy, unmoving, not like the Matt we know) and post-”popping” (taking action once again) only emphasizes the unreality of that moment for him – and for the viewer. It gives us the feeling that of course Matt couldn’t get caught, of course those cops had to be corrupt – of course anything that disrupts Matt’s Daredevil reality cannot hold in this world.
The firmness of Matt’s Daredevil reality is only emphasized by the fact that we never see him considering quitting Daredevil. He has other moral dilemmas, sure, but he is always sure that this is what he has to do – whether it’s working or not, it doesn’t occur to him to stop. In ep 10 both Matt and Foggy confirm that Matt can’t and/or won’t stop what he does.
All of these things lead me to think that Daredevil wasn’t really a decision for Matt – at least, in his mind’s eye. The lack of forethought (and not only lack of forethought, but continuous lack of acknowledgment of the need for a long-term plan), the vivid unreality of a “caught” Daredevil, and the surety with which Matt embraces his Daredevil identity makes me think that Matt doesn’t see it as a choice. Daredevil isn’t something that Matt thought about doing – it’s just something he did, and was always going to do. The origin story that Matt told Foggy in ep 10 confirms this: Matt reacted instinctively to an innocent girl’s pain, and in response he has – he’s “never slept better.” Aside from the confessional scene in ep 1, there isn’t the moral dilemma that one might expect from a man breaking bones every night. Matt’s explanations in ep 10 confirm that he does not regret being Daredevil, and that he was, in fact, always going to do this – it was just a matter of when. It’s as though Matt has finally made a decision that had been ready for him his whole life.
This is part of what separates Matt from Fisk. In ep 6, Matt dismisses Fisk’s assessment of his ideology (”a lone man in a mask who thinks he can make a difference”), and I think this is true, to an extent. Ideology requires the kind of forethought, analysis, and choice that Matt isn’t necessarily able to put into Daredevil – it’s just not how his brain works. Fisk, meanwhile, is a meticulous planner who is very aware of the larger ideological basis behind his decisions. While Fisk is more aware of his decisions, however, Matt is still ultimately more self-aware (or at least less hypocritical about it). Due to his hyper-focus, Matt rarely strays away from his goal to protect Hell’s Kitchen’s people; Fisk, meanwhile, is too invested in his own ideology to care for people, and is unable to realize this until the final episode.
In light of this comparison and in the absence of conscious decision-making, you get the feeling that Matt is meant to do this – because in the absence of a larger ideology backing what he does, that is the only option left. This feeling of ‘destiny’ (or whatever) is what makes Matt donning the costume in ep 13 so satisfying.
It’s also part of what makes the show so intense. Because even though Matt seems destined to be Daredevil, we as the viewers are constantly
waiting for Matt’s Daredevil reality to pop (as it does in the comics), and we
honestly don’t know when this will happen or what Matt will do when this happens. The show has also shown that Matt doesn’t know, and to some extent is incapable of contemplating, what he would do, which only adds to this tension.
But perhaps most importantly, the same thing that sets Matt apart from Fisk is the same thing that makes Matt so fascinating as a character. In the absence of conscious decision-making, Matt must act purely on his values – which makes him one of the bravest and most honest characters on television. Every action he takes betrays what he’s feeling and what he believes about the world. Matt Murdock is called the man without fear for what he does as Daredevil, but it’s also the courage with which Matt is so completely himself that makes Matt a man without fear.