Logo by Mark Poa

ImproFicRoast: Guide to MSTing the ImproFicRoast Way

Written and Updated by 
     Mark Poa

With Input from:
     Jonatan Streith

Idea inspired by 
     Mystery Octagon Theater Style Guide by Thomas "Wanderer" Wilde

For use with ImproFicRoast
Not for sale or rent or consumption. 
Not taken as a threat, or a repository. 
May be illegal in Portugal. 


Ye Obligaetorie Introductione Thingie

The problem with having different writers writing an MST is having to 
feed everyone good snacks.  No, not really, but I was checking if you 
were paying attention. Anyway, this style guide is a way of helping 
out the poor editors with their work in crafting the MSTing masterpieces 
of ImproFicRoast.  It would also help out those with an itchy hand to 
edit (like me) to have some kind of guide when helping to edit between 

Potential MSTers, keep in mind that this would really help out ye olde 
editors, as well as add to the aesthetic value of the MSTing.  To quote 
someone I can't recall right now, "There's only one thing worse than 
reading a badly-written fic; it's reading a badly-written fic that's 
been badly MSTed."

Ye Guide to ImproFicRoast MSTing

1) What is ImproFicRoast and who can MST?

ImproFicRoast falls in the category of Meta-MSTing.  It is a
fairly unorthodox way of writing an MST.  Normally, MST fiction
is written by one writer or a group of writers.  However, the
MST process in ImproFicRoast involves allowing a pool of writers
to contribute their riffs and jokes in a messageboard environment.
The end result is compiled and edited, the culminating product 
of the whole group.

ImproFicRoast uses author avatars instead of the usual Joel/Mike
and the Bots cast.  The theater is usually composed of five to 
six seats, though this may change depending on the general 
consensus or when we would like to try something out.  Author
avatars are chosen during the "dibs season" when the admin calls
out for dibs on theater seats.  Advance dibs for particular
riffing sessions are generally discouraged, but that hasn't 
stopped anyone before.  

We're easygoing like that.  

Mads or the Guest Villain are taken on a volunteer basis.  Being 
a Mad means that you volunteer to write the sketches.  The Mad 
scientist attire should not be taken lightly.  (See the Writing 
Sketches section for more.)

Anyone and everyone who wants to MST a current work is welcome
to contribute.  We only ask that riffs and jokes be sensible,
reasonable, and funny.  The term "shadowMST" applies to people
who MST even though their avatar is not in the theater.  This
is encouraged.  Knock yourself out.

2) Posting Do's and Dont's

(a) Spelling and Punctuation

DO:  Reread before posting.

Since most of the MSTing "targets" we roast in this forum are 
dens of misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, and typos
aplenty, it wouldn't be in good taste to riff them when our
own work is victim to the Bad Grammar Gods.  

    [pointless interlude]
    Pot:  Hey, Kettle!  You're black!
    Kettle:  But am I Cool?  
    [/pointless interlude]

When posting riffs, double-check your work for typos, grammar, 
punctuation, and spelling.  Spell check might be helpful, but 
I wouldn't trust it as much as good old-fashioned rereading.  
A quick rereading through your work before you click on that 
"Post" button would help make the MSTing that much better.

DO:  Help out with the editing.  If you see a spelling or
 grammar mistake in the previous post before you, take the 
 time to correct it.  Your editors thank you.

DO:  Check to see if spelling and grammar mistakes are 
 intentional.  On special instances, such as for the avatars
 Mr. Knht or the Mad Dr. Thinker, the lines are intentionally 
 written with bad grammar and spelling.

(b) Merging Posts

DO:  Merge threads whenever possible.

Whenever writers post at almost the same time (thus making the
thread fork), it is advisable that the one who posted second
merge the threads.  Or if you're full of free time and would
like to post after them, merge the posts first before adding
your own contributions.  

DO:  Merge threads as _completely_ as possible.

When merging, take the time to make sure that the merged thread
is indeed a merged thread.  A common danger in merging is that
some jokes will be missed.  Be careful merging.

DON'T:  Post a new post underneath only one thread when an MST
 diverges.  Not only did you possibly miss a joke or two in the 
 other thread, it is also an indirect insult to the other writer.

Merging two MSTing threads would ensure that succeeding writers 
would not miss good joke opportunities or write in a riff for a 
line already riffed good.  Plus, it's pretty much common courtesy 
to save the editors the trouble of having to merge threads during
the compiling and editing process of MST production.

(c) Other advice

DO:  Introduce yourself first before posting for a riff.  We would
 like to know who contributes to the MSTing so proper credit is

 Admin Jonatan says:

 Introducing yourself is a good idea when you show up here, whether 
 you want to riff or just hang around. 
 Introductions should likely be along the lines of "Hi, my name is 
  and I'm from ...". Lengthy descriptions of your 
 avatar should likely wait until people have gotten to know you; some 
 people can get ornery over having a lengthy intro thrust in their 
 faces from a newcomer they don't yet know. While we're far too nice 
 and lenient to complain about that (much), it helps to be careful. 

DO:  Give constructive criticisms and encouragement.

DO:  Use the "Preview" button.  It helps.

DO:  Feel free to add jokes.  The funnier, the better. But don't
 feel limited or shy.  If the joke's not that good, it might still 
 be improved by you or a co-writer.

DON'T:  Flame, insult, or start a fight with anyone in the MB.
 Remember to keep criticisms civil. We're all here to have fun.
 Don't ruin it for the rest of us.  Bitch.

DON'T:  Feed the monkeys.  They bite.

DO:  Feed the management staff. FEED US, SEYMOUR!

3) Writing Script-type MSTing

(a) Script format

MSTings are written in script format.  The present tense is used
for actions using this format.  This format is characterized by
the speaker's name preceding the dialogue.  To illustrate:

    > You have no life.  HAHAHAHA!

    Jon:  I hate this fic.
    Mark:  Yeah. It's not only badly written; it's rude, too.

Special attention to writing is given since this format does not
allow detailed instructions, especially for actions and 
descriptions.  The focus of the format is on the riffs or 
dialogue.  Ways of getting around this limitation are in the
succeeding section.

(b) Brackets and Script Situations

The usual brackets used in the ImproFicRoast MSTings boil down
to this simple guide:

   ( ) -- used for actions
   [ ] -- used for imitations, mood, and voice changes

However, ImproFicRoast is quite lenient regarding the use of 
these brackets.  As long as the intent is clear, alternative
ways of denoting the actions or imitation of the characters
may be used.

Other alternative brackets may include  < >  or  { }. However,
these tend to stand out when written alongside the commonly 
used ( ) and [ ].  It is still preferred that the previous
be used.

When adding dialogue in a previously written series of riffs, 
it is better to follow the style used by the previous writer.  
For example, if the preceding post has the following lines:
    W4: (Alucard)  Dracula is my father.
    Skrib: (Dracula)  That's a lie!

Added lines should follow the style used.  In this case:

    W4: (Alucard)  Dracula is my father.
    Skrib: (Dracula)  That's a lie!
    Mark: (Belmont) I am his mother.  

Or, the next writer may use a different style, provided he edit
the whole thing.  For example:

    W4 [Alucard]:  Dracula is my father.
    Skrib [Dracula]:  That's a lie!
    Mark [Belmont]: I am his mother.  

Looking at the following example, we can see how not following
this rule of thumb can cause style conflicts:

    W4: (Alucard)  Dracula is my father.
    Skrib: (Dracula)  That's a lie!
    Mark [Belmont]: I am his mother.  

It is also advisable that brackets used for imitation be different
from ones used for actions.  This helps avoid reader confusion and
enhance reading ease.

    Jonatan [evil scientist]:  I shall see you in hell! (grins)

    Jonatan (evil scientist):  I shall see you in hell! (grins)

Here are some examples for different script situations
and their suggested formats.  


    NeoVid [bored]: Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.


    Ranma X [Superman]: You see, Lois.  Supergirl's secret 


    R.Jak: How can this be any worse?
    (*Ominous thunder*)
    R.Jak: I had to ask.


    Jon: o/~Goodbye, everyday! o/~


    Jon [singing]: Goodbye, everyday!

from MOT...just because it's too funny to pass up.  ^_^)

    Skrib [Akio, happy]: o/~I wanna be the very best, like no
    one ever was! o/~
    Ranma X: (eyetwitch) Pokemon? (Gets out his spatula)  Die!
    Skrib: Itai! @_@


    Kate: (scratching her head) Why did we just facefault?


    R.Jak:  That's it! I'm going for a drink.
    (R. Jak gets up and heads for the door.  He opens it and
    heads out.  Sounds of a faucet running is heard.  R. Jak
    returns with a glass of water and sits down again.)
    Mark:  Wait, the door was open?
    R.Jak:  Yeah, it...
    (A pause.   The riffers look toward the door. As one, they
    make a break for it. All exit.)


    Sig:  Hey, W4!
    W4 [over intercom]:  Yes?
    Sig:  Is it over yet?
    W4 [over intercom]:  It's not over until the fat lady sings.
    Sig:  Does a fat dragon scribe singing count?
    W4 [over intercom]:  No.
    Sig:  Damn.

  Note:  The Mad or Torturer is never inside the theater.  His
     lines should always be written as coming from an intercom.
     Please limit interaction with the Mad to a minimum; he or
     she is torturing the riffers, not riffing the fic with them.

(c)  Grammar issues

** Capitalization

  *Consult a good book on grammar.  It has everything you need
   to know... except about the birds and the bees, though.

  *Proper nouns are capitalized, except for some names.  For
   reference, look at how the original writer writes that 
   name.  98 times out of a hundred, it's the way it should
   be written.  

  *Special cases may sometimes require special attention.  For
   instance, NeoVid types his avatar's name that way. Jonatan
   uses a strange system for writing his name that defies
   understanding by others, apparently.

** Here are some handy guides for trailing off lines:

  *When the line trails off at the end, use only three periods
   in a row:

    Jon: I don't want to know...

  *When beginning a line by trailing, capitalize the first
   word only if it's a proper noun:

    Mark: ...I think I'm to be sick.

  *If the first word in the sentence is an improper noun, it 
   isn't capitalized:

    Skrib:, story, I really don't think that's possible.

  *Note: Spaces are unnecessary before or after the periods.

  *Additional Note:  The above does not refer to lines that
   trail off... then has a follow-up.  You need to put a 
   space between the ellipses and the first word in the
   follow-up.  To illustrate:
      Writing like this... is right.

      Writing like wrong.

  *One More Note:  Ellipses are always three periods.  Three 
   as in dot dot dot.  Don't make us hurt you...

** Continuing a line riffs

  *In riffs that finish the sentence of the original text,
   there are ways to write them:

     >The car ran over the hill and

     Mark:  ...went over the side.

     Sig:  --found itself in China.

     Jon:  -Won the Indie 500.

(d) Character issues

Writing for someone else's avatar is tricky at best.
The danger of writing someone out of character, or OOC,
is a regrettable error.  It is, unfortunately, also more 
or less unavoidable in the long run. However, here are 
some handy hints to avoid conflicts regarding this:

** Before writing

   *Read the Profiles page to get an idea of how a 
  specific avatar acts or riffs.  Most avatars have a
  personality profile already in place from prior MSTs
  which could give you an idea of what lines or actions
  best suit them.

   *Consult the writer who uses the author avatar.  He/
  she has the best idea of how his character is.  It 
  would also help you to know how flexible he/she allows 
  the avatar to become.  Some authors can be accommodating 
  to OOC situations or lines, depending on the situation.

   *Also, one should not be afraid of making a other-avatar-
  riff for fear that it might be OOC and offend the other 
  person. If in doubt, go ahead; if there are objections, 
  those will be sorted out as smoothly as possible.  (We
  still have that crack team of gun-carrying nuns running
  around somewhere around here... -M) (They're my nuns,
  damnit! -J)

** If you are the one who makes the mistake

   *Try to correct the mistake as soon as possible.  
  Suggest alternatives.

   *Do not force your perspective at the author.  The 
  writer of the author avatar has the right to his/her

** If it is your author avatar being written OOC

   *Do not go ballistic immediately.  Express the reason
  why the avatar is OOC and state alternative treatment.
  Be understanding and don't take it personally.  Mistakes 

   *Modify the lines or actions to make it in-character 
  or delete it.  You have the right to.  It's your avatar.

   *If the OOCness is not that significant, consider if
  you can allow it.  After all, it might be funny and/or
  written in an entertaining way.

(e) Other issues

** Excessive swearing is frowned upon.  Avoid the 
   f-word and s-word.  The occasional "damn" or
   ASCII characters are fine, but use them in
   moderation. We'd like to maintain a PG-rating.

** Okay is written this way.  "OK" is okay, but not 
   advisable.  Similarly, it should be "all right",
   not "alright."

** The names of the riffers are often written in 
   full but some may prefer the short form.  For example, 
   Jonatan may be written as Jon while in script format
   or in conversation.  Signus may be written as simply
   Sig.  To best maintain consistency, look at how the 
   previous writer writes it and follow suit.  That way,
   there won't be confusion as to how many riffers 
   there are in the theater or who's who.

** Author-bashing should be kept to the absolute 
   minimum.  Common "I will kill the author when I get 
   out" riffs are acceptable; but direct flaming or 
   insulting of an author through the riffing is not 
   a Good Thing (tm).

** ImproFicRoast uses author avatars.  The theater is
   composed of a group of riffers.  Do not make your
   character the center of attention always.  Spread the 
   riffs around and allow other writers to use joke
   opportunities on occasion.  Also, twinks and uber-
   powered avatars are usually frowned upon or ditched.
   Equal opportunity is where it's at, baby!

** When there are no mention of specific issues here, try 
   to follow what previous writers have done or how they
   wrote it.  If still in doubt, consult a good grammar
   book, ask an admin, or consult the board in general.

4) Writing Sketches

Sketches are the parts of the MSTing wherein the riffers
are not riffing.  (Like, duh!)  These include the standard
introduction sketch, the ending sketch, commercial parodies,
skits, and breaks.  Sketches are used to "frame" the riffing
by setting up the situation of the riffers, why they are in
the torture, who their characters are, what they do, and 

The normal procedure of ImproFicRoast is that the designated
or volunteer Mad for the episode would write the sketch.  
The sketch is posted whereupon it is available for editing 
and modifications by other parties.  (Of course, we're not
really that big on following normal procedures...)

Any person may write a sketch.  However, since the Mad has 
dibs on them, he/she should first be notified.  Common 
courtesy, folks.

After all, the only rule we enforce is "as long as you tell 
everyone, and people agree on it, you can do whatever you 

Sketches may be written in prose format or script format.  
We're not picky about it, just as long as you stick to one
of the two.

5) Compiling and Editing

Editing tasks fall on the admin of ImproFicRoast.  However,
volunteers may come forward and edit the compiled MSTs.  It
all boils down to helping each other out.

Similarly, asking for help is also not a bad idea when RL 
becomes a bitch.  Someone else might have free time on 
their hands.

Editors should keep in mind that consistency in writing style 
and good formatting is as important to a good-looking work as 
good grammar and spelling.  It is also advisable that editing
is not limited to one run-through.  If possible, the editor
should run through the entire thing again or have someone else
run through it to find any errors missed.

The editor will put up a rough draft on the main site which 
can be browsed and criticized at your leisure, or at least until 
the editor decides it looks good and puts it up as complete 


Comments?  Suggestions?  Additions?
Post them to:



Beta Version    02/01/2002
1.0 Version     02/06/2002

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