FlitterWeb – The Index of the Internet

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Hey, folks! I have some exciting news for you today, an announcement that hopefully will help both me and you in the years to come!

Last week, I launched a brand new website business. The site is called FlitterWeb, and it’s a website-review site where users can share, review, and discover new websites, webseries, webcomics, and other online content. So if you’re looking for a rare bookstore online, or a writer’s group for your new screenplay, you can read some reviews and find the right one.

I’m really aiming to make this site into a “going operation,” so to speak, and as such I am trying to build the userbase as much as possible. I already have dozens of websites in the system and ready to be reviewed, ranging from reddit to Netflix to xkcd, but I need people to sign up and write reviews. It doesn’t matter for what, you can feel free to focus on Edgeworks-related sites like Rooster Teeth or Machinima.com, or you can branch off toward Epic Rap Battles of History or Pinterest.

You can even review Edgeworks Entertainment!

Every review will be appreciated, and if you share the link to the site on FB and Twitter, even better! And, as an added bonus, if you have a website yourself (or a friend does), writing three reviews unlocks the ability to submit sites to the database, so go get the word out about your own projects! Thank you all, and good luck with everything you’re working on!

The Origin Trilogy: Three Questions for an Aspiring Hero

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For the last decade or so, origin stories have been all the rage in the film industry. Especially in the superhero genre we have seen a seemingly endless stream of origin stories and reboots over the last few years, and lately audiences have even begun to tire of the formula.

But something has been happening as these franchises develop, something which may never have been planned but which is becoming a well-established pattern: these origin stories eventually become trilogies, and these trilogies have begun to conform to a set structure. In almost every case, each of the three films addresses a specific question confronting the hero, and by the end of the trilogy the hero has answered all three and completely established themselves as a force within their world.

I have presented these three phases, a structural analysis of my own design, below, complete with in-depth examples from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, as well as supporting examples from the Iron Man Trilogy, the Matrix Trilogy, and the original Star Wars Trilogy. Check them out, and share your thoughts, comments, and questions in the comments below! Read More →

Joss Whedon’s THE AVENGERS and the Three-Act Structure

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One of the first things that a writer, especially a screenwriter, learns is the Three-Act Structure. This is a broad framework into which all stories (theoretically) can fit. It sketches out the basic beats that a story needs to hit in order to be coherent and compelling, and offers a way of organizing your tale as you set about filling that blank white page.

Like a scaffold on a construction site, the Three-Act Structure doesn’t dictate the specifics of what you are trying to create, but it does outline the basic shape and makes it easier to build your story as you go. Think of it like a roadmap: you don’t know exactly what will happen along the way yet, but you know the basic path you’ll be following to get there.

I’ve had several conversations with friends and family over the years about the elements and uses of the Three-Act Structure, but the biggest problem we’ve had was applying it to real-world situations. Anyone can talk about their “First Act” or their “Denouement,” and using those terms in a conceptual way is fairly easy, but identifying them within a practical story can be more difficult. I’ve used various stories, from Independence Day to Romeo and Juliet, as examples, but it’s still hard to cut away the details of that particular story and get to the common threads between them.

When I first saw The Avengers in 2012, I greatly enjoyed it as both a fan and a filmmaker. But the more I’ve watched it the more I’ve come to appreciate it structurally, as a superb example of storytelling and pacing. Joss Whedon has often commented in interviews about how complex a movie it was to write, having to juggle so many characters and sets and locations and relationships within a single movie, and it’s clear that his solution was to simplify the structure immensely, allowing people to stay invested in the storyline without getting lost or confused. While other filmmakers, such as Chris Nolan in Batman Begins, have used very complex story structures filled with flashbacks and cutaways and parallel action to tell their story, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is much more direct and streamlined, and as such it makes a perfect example through which to explore the Three-Act Structure. He even offers a major change in location at the start of each act, making it very easy to identify where we are in the progression of the story.

Like Apple’s iPod or Google’s search page, Joss Whedon’s story structure draws elegance and power from simplicity.

And so, for anyone looking to better understand the principles of writing a screenplay (or almost any other kind of story), I offer you a step-by-step description of the Three-Act Structure, complete with analyses and suggestions, exemplified by Joss Whedon’s 2012 blockbuster, The Avengers. Be sure to watch the movie, or even follow along with it as you read, so you can get a feel for the pacing of each section, and feel free to offer any comments, thoughts, suggestions or questions at the bottom! Read More →

Dragonfire and Ruin

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It was stunning how quickly the battle was joined. The invading armies were moving quickly through the forest, trying to take as much land as possible before the local defenses could organize. As such, they were moving with incredible haste, and the adventurers quickly decided that they would slow the invaders down as much as possible, even if ultimate victory wasn’t an option alone.

The adventurers were able to ambush the first scouts, but after that it quickly became a pitched battle. Salek crouched in a tree and fired arrows, his location protected by the chaos on the ground which prevented anyone from scanning the branches above for too long. Kah was drawing most of the attention, thundering through the battle as he was wont to do, while Celestra sniped soldiers with lightning bolts and Fror crept stealthily through the underbrush picking off stragglers. Even Gavin was helping, smashing enemies left and right with fists like flying boulders.  (The rest of Gavin’s friends were a short ways off, though none of the travelers had the heart, or the interest, to check on how they were doing.)

They fell back and fell back, slowing the enemy down slightly but not even attempting to stop them outright. The adventurers were beginning to wonder if they should retreat entirely, rather than risk getting encircled, but before they could turn and run Salek caught sight of a most welcome surprise:

The army of Q’art Hadash, marching from Tevesta, was moving up to join the battle!

With the arrival of fresh troops, the battle became much more evenly matched. The invaders were powerful, and still more numerous than the defenders, but the locals were more familiar with the terrain and they were fighting for their homes. It was a brutal battle, but with the help of the adventurers it looked like they might just hold the line.

Then, a deafening roar split the sky. Read More →

Reunion

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Celestra was still coughing and brushing away smoke when Kah first heard the impacts. Pound-pound-pound. Like rocks on the mountainside. Pound-pound-pound. Too rhythmic for tree-falls, too rapid for thunder. Pound-pound-pound. It sounded almost like footsteps, except far too heavy. Unless…

Peering through the forest, the barbarian could just barely make out the shapes of his friends, Salek and Fror, sprinting toward them.

And in their wake, just a few paces behind, thundered an enormous troll.

In the space of a few seconds, Kah bounded over to the half-felled tree which the giant beaver had been chewing through, and began to push. He waited for just the right moment, wanting to drop the tree on the troll at the exact instant he emerged onto the road.

Pushing the thick trunk over at precisely the right time, Kah was too late to stop it by the time Salek and Fror started shouting, “No, stop! He’s with us!”

Kah tried to grab the falling mass, but it was too far gone. As the troll broke through the tree line, the heavy trunk hit him squarely on the head. The troll dropped to the ground, stunned but ultimately harmless.

Celestra blinked in surprise, and then turned to Salek and Fror. “He’s ‘with’ you?” she asked, incredulous. “We’ve been looking for you all day, and you’ve been, what, collecting trolls?”

“Uh, well, no…” said Salek, exchanging a quick glance with Fror.

“It started like this,” began Fror.

The adventurers then spent the next short while catching up, recounting their respective adventures. Kah showed off his new purchase (while Celestra pointedly sighed), and Salek told his friends how they had hired Gavin the troll to join them for a while after he was left behind by his friends.

Then, just when they had made the connection of both having run into the so-called “Midnight Shark Dragons,” another rustling was heard from the forest. Focusing his elven eyes, Salek was just barely able to make out the source.

“You’ve got to be joking…” he murmured. Read More →