Reading the Good Stuff
Kelly Masters (RedPiggy from Muppet Central Forums) – How do you separate the good fan-fictions from the nonsensical pieces of you-know-what? In this, the second article in my series of article discussing Muppet Central Forum’s Fan-Fiction, we explore what it takes. Naturally, spelling and grammar are paramount. If the readers can’t even get through a sentence without wondering if they need a secret decoder ring to decipher the meaning, then it isn’t a good fan-fic.
I asked the members of Muppet Central Forums this question: “What qualities do you look for in a “good” fan-fic? Originality? Characterization? Description? Faithfulness to characters or plot? Plot depth? Quick and easy reads? What fan-fics in your opinion exemplify those qualities?”
theprawncracker noted, “I, personally, look for characterization first and foremost. That’s (sic) is the number one most important thing to me. If the character’s ‘voices’ aren’t there, the humor, heart-wrenching, or plot can’t function as well. Nothing can. Faithfulness to characters is also extremely important to me. Even though some things may seem completely out of character for some (e.g., Rowlf marrying a cat, Piggy going primal after being lost in the Amazon, Gonzo quitting stunts), they all work, because the characters are written in a way it could work.”
Moderator The Count said, “Well… I happen to enjoy/expect a certain faithfulness to the characterizations of Muppet characters when utilized in fan-fics, and I find this acceptable in most fics I’ve read. There are qualities of each classification mentioned above I could go into, but for brevity’s sake, let’s just say that I enjoy a broad range of fic topics… So long as they’re thought out or have a plot to carry out and deliver on said expectancy.”
Finally, TogetherAgain stated, “First and foremost, faithfulness to the characters. If the characters don’t ‘sound’ like themselves, I lose interest pretty quickly. Sometimes I’ll read it anyway, if the plot is good enough. What makes a good plot? Conflict, primarily, so long as it’s within reason… relatively speaking. Muppets can get away with just about anything, as long as there’s some vague explanation for it. I mean, think about The Muppet Show… they got taken over by pirates and turned the theater into a ship. If that isn’t far-fetched, I don’t know what is. So I suppose keeping the conflict ‘within reason’ isn’t much of an issue… but there does need to be some sort of conflict, of some kind. It doesn’t have to be EXTREME conflict, either. Personally, I like to write stuff so heart-wrenching that my readers find themselves writhing on the floor in pain… but not everyone likes to read that, and sometimes it’s not what I’m in the mood for, either. Something nice and hysterically funny is always good. (Unfortunately, I rarely think of those stories!)”
To wit, I’ve chosen a fan-fic by Super Scooter, based on the few recommendations I got. It is titled, “The Super Goofs!”
The Super Goofs
The previous review relied heavily on the dramatic. Fortunately, this one is funny from the start and its Superman parody. Also, if a quick read is more your thing, this is blissfully short.
This fic relies heavily on a lot of one-liners (the amount of actual paragraphs is rather small). However, although, to me, that usually spells laziness, this has such a light tone it works. It is a joke-based fic and lots of meaningful description would just weigh it down.
Characterization is very important. The identities are barely mentioned (as everyone is supposed to be in superhero mode, and you can’t use your real name in superhero mode), but just through dialogue you can tell who’s talking. That is good characterization.
The basic plot revolves around finding an “evil” villain who stole their super-secret funding. I guess those costumes don’t come cheap. The author picks very stable and workable character pairs (Link and Fozzie or Gonzo and Rizzo). These were already tried out in official Muppet media, and there’s no harm going with a sure thing. There’s definitely chemistry. Also, in fine Muppet tradition, there’s plentiful fourth-wall breaking.
The amusing thing is, while this is cast with adult Muppets, this would have made a great Muppet Babies episode. All it would need is a few good catchy songs and it’d be perfect.
For links to these and more fan-fictions, visit The Fan-Fic Library Index on Muppet Central Forum!