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Thread: Courage's Double Trouble

  1. #1
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    Default Courage's Double Trouble

    Hello, everyone! This is my contribution to the Quarterly Challenge: Write A Crossfic! I hope you all like '00 cartoons, because you're about to get a ~10 minute episode's worth of it! I won't directly spoil what series it is here, but you should be able to guess with alarming accuracy. Only one word of warning: I did my best with typing out thick accents, but I know it could be better, so go easy on me in that regard. It should all still make sense. So without further ado, enjoy!

    Courage's Double Trouble

    In the middle of Nowhere, Kansas, there is an old farmhouse. There is a chicken coop. There is a tall, squeaky windmill, barely moving from a weak breeze. There is an old pickup truck parked outside the house. Despite it being a farmhouse, there are no crops to be found. In fact, the whole land was a desert. There were no other signs of life anywhere to be found.

    Inside the house, a sweet, old lady, Muriel, is rocking in her rocking chair, knitting something expertly. It is too soon into the project to tell what it will be. Sitting on a couch is a crotchety old man, Eustace, who is watching the telly. An overly cautious, purple dog, Courage, is laying on the floor, fast asleep. He dreams of being a NASCAR championship racer, racing right over a man on stilts (who barely manages a squeak before Courage blasts through), under an old lady's skirt, and through a herd of sheep, in quick succession. He crosses the finish line and there is suddenly confetti, along with the sounds of a large audience cheering. He is given an enormous trophy with the words "#1" crudely drawn on the side.

    "...and that's the story of how the major general got away with all those balloons," says the TV announcer, on the telly. "Coming up next, tonight's winning lottery numbers!"

    Eustace has a fistful of lottery tickets in his hands. He grins like a man who knows he's already won.

    "Hehehe, that's gonna be me!" he says.

    Suddenly, there is a big, noisy kaboom outside. The whole house shakes.

    "Oh!" exclaims Muriel.

    Courage manages to continue sleeping through the minor earthquake. However, his dream is shattered by a knock on the door.

    "I wonder who that could be," Muriel says, getting off of her chair and setting down her knitting.

    Courage walks with her up to the door, and she opens it.

    Two beautiful girls are standing at the door. One of them has long, red hair that curls up at the tip and juts more outward than downward. She is wearing a rather revealing schoolgirl dress, has a very noticeable tan, a bunch of decorations in her hair, and orange lipstick on. You can tell by the glint in her eyes and aura that she is not a nice person. Next to her is a smaller girl, with short blue hair. Her skin is very pale and she wears a bright pink lipstick. She is wearing an even more outrageous, midriff-revealing tank top and short shorts. She, too, has a malicious demeanor about her. The two of them are smiling regardless. Accompanying them is a two foot tall thing that was most definitely not human. It clearly had a tail, full body fur, narrow slit irises, cat ears, fangs, paws, claws, and whiskers. It was wearing a mechanic outfit, with a trucker's cap on its head.

    "Oooooooooh!" says the smaller girl, in a surprisingly low, almost masculine voice. "Like, totally thanks for your service, and stuff!"

    "Tanks for our service?" asks Muriel. "But we didn't order anything."

    "We're high school students who are also part-time safety inspectors," explains the taller girl in a thick Valley Girl accent, making exaggerated expressions with her hands as she is talking. "We're here to inspect your safe."

    "We're sooooooooo handy!" interjects the smaller girl, never not smiling.

    "Since there was just an earthquake outside, we should totally make sure your safe is safe," continues the taller girl.

    "Inspect our safe?" says Muriel. "But cha don't look like safety inspectors."

    The two girls stand there in silence for a moment.

    "We're from...Vancouver! This is how they dress up there, eh?" explains the taller girl.

    "Goooooooooo Moosetracks!" cheers the smaller girl.

    "Also, we have our mechanic here, who is also an expert safe cracker!" says the taller girl, gesturing towards the creature.

    "Da ting is, da safe is 'n maultawl dangahr. Da safe is on its' last hinges, on a wing 'n a prayah, abous to tak'n a nice doirt nap," explains the creature in the thickest Boston accent Courage has ever heard.

    "That's all the same thing!" yells Eustace, coming up to the door.

    "But Eustace, he's an expert," counters Muriel.

    "Exactly!" says the taller girl.

    "Sooooooo good with his hands!" chimes in the smaller girl.

    "So we needs ta sees ya safe, gets it in tiptop shape, and make it snappy, if you'd kindly," says the creature.

    Courage is not buying this for a second. The strange creature with the Boston accent could be tipping him off.

    "Oh of course ya can look at our prized family safe, filled to the brim with priceless family heirlooms, any ONE of which, were it ta go missing, would shatter my emotional state entirely, for the rest of eternity," says Muriel.

    "Noooooooo!" Courage whines, hopping up and down on one foot.

    "Ubbabababa babbaba!" he says, pointing to the intruders.

    He then shape-shifts into a hideous rat, then into a Courage in drag in a bathing suit, then into a 3-headed bandit, then back into himself. The trio look surprised at him.

    "No solicitors!" shouts Eustace, and slams the door on the trio's faces.

    "Eustace! That wasn't very neighborly of ya," admonishes Muriel, as Eustace walks away.

    "They're not our neighbors! We don't have any!" he yells.

    Courage looks at the door again before walking away.

    Meanwhile, just outside the door...

    "James, did you just see that?" asks the taller girl.

    "I sure did, Jessie," replies the smaller girl, now using his real voice.

    "What a miraculous find!" says the creature.

    "I know, Meowth!" says James. "A vintage Dilworth painting hanging right on the wall!"

    Jessie smacks him.

    "Not that, Picasso! The shape-shifting Pokémon!"

    "Oh right, that."

    "Think of how rare and valuable a shape-shifting Pokémon would be!" says Meowth.

    "Especially one no one's ever seen before!" says Jessie.

    The trio giggle to themselves mischievously as they collectively imagine giving Courage to Da Boss, Giovanni. Giovanni has Courage transform into a vacuum cleaner in order to sweep his office carpet. Giovanni has Courage transform into a set of dumbbells in order to do reps every day. Giovanni has Courage transform into a portable fan to cool himself off with on those hot, summer days.

    "We'll get that Pokémon if it's the last thing we do!" says Jessie.

    Later on that evening...

    Muriel is cooking up a firestorm in the kitchen, using up several pots and pans. There's no way two people and a dog could eat all this. Eustace is still in his chair, newspaper in hand, grumbling about nothing in particular, but somehow relating it all to his general misfortune. Courage is busy chewing and gnawing on a football goal post, with college football sound effects playing in the background, which nobody seems to acknowledge.

    Suddenly, the door is kicked open, revealing...an ancient Victorian quilter woman, a man in a green suit and wielding an electric razor, and a red cat with a purple nose. It is very obviously Jessie, James, and Meowth, using whatever costumes they had on them at the time, throwing a coherent "theme" out the window.

    "Get da pink ding!" Meowth yells.

    Courage's eyes grow large before he lets out a mighty scream, each of his eyes turning into four telly screens, each blinking red, blue, green, and yellow, his tongue jutting out at incredible length. His tongue's tongue then stuck out as well, giving off an even higher pitched scream. Then his tongue's tongue's tongue stuck out with a Brunhild costume on and started belting out an opera note in a low, alto voice.

    Courage runs into the kitchen with the trio chasing shortly thereafter. Courage bursts into the kitchen screaming, running around the kitchen table, with the trio chasing after him in a single file line, each of them unable to keep up with Courage.

    "Get back here you!" says Jessie.

    "Stop running!" says James.

    "Dinner will be ready in a minute, Courage. Could ya please set the table?" asks Muriel.

    Courage runs over to the kitchen cabinet and grabs plates, silverware, glasses, and napkins, balancing the glasses on his tongue, and runs back over to the table, with the trio still unable to catch him. He circles around the table some more, expertly setting down the plates, silverware, glasses, and napkins. He then reaches behind him and pulls out a candelabra, already lit, and places it at the center of the table.

    "Such a good dog," says Muriel, still not taking her eyes off of the pots and pans.

    Courage then runs back into the living room and up the stairs, with Eustace ignoring the trio following him. Courage runs into the bedroom and slams the door shut. The trio open it and follow him in. Courage exits from a different door and runs into a third door. The trio follow suit. The four then proceed to do the classic Scooby Doo gag of entering and exiting different doors for awhile. At one point, the trio swapped costumes. At another, Courage is rendered in 3D. In another, Courage is chasing them. At another, Courage is riding a tricycle while Jessie and Meowth are using pogo sticks and James is operating a unicycle and juggling balls.

    Courage goes into the computer room, followed by the trio.

    "There you are, you little moneymaker you!" says Jessie.

    They creep towards Courage menacingly when they each step on a rake that was left lying on the floor, the stick rising up and hitting them hard in the face. They slink to the ground.

    "Yay!" Courage yelps, before scurrying out the window.

    He climbs up to the roof and catches his breath, thinking he was safe now. Suddenly, from out of the previously foggy sky, the Meowth Balloon appears, with the trio inside the basket, now back into their Team Rocket uniforms. James is eating from a bag of pretzels. Their theme music plays.

    "Prepare for a crossover!"

    "Hey these aren't Hanover!"

    "To protect the writer from all this stress!"

    "To write himself out of this giant mess!"

    "To denounce the evils of slashfic pairing!"

    "This motto has nothing to do with sharing!"

    "Jessie!"

    "James!"

    "Team Rocket, breaking the 4th wall at the speed of light!"

    "You stupid dog! Prepare to fight!"

    "Meowth, what a sight."

    "Huh?" says Courage, bewildered by what just happened.

    "We're coming for you slowly, little moneymaker," says Jessie. "Just wait right there while this balloon slowly descends."

    The trio laugh madly as they creep along downwards. Courage frantically starts searching his pockets (that dogs naturally have) for something to use against the trio. He pulls out an ancient book of dark magic, which crumbles to dust immediately, a whole scuba diving suit, which floats aimlessly up into the sky, and a pair of lacey lingerie, which he immediately puts back into his pocket, blushing profusely laughing awkwardly to the audience. The trio are still laughing madly as they slowly descend closer to Courage. Courage continues rummaging through his pockets when he finally whips out a peashooter. It is just a flimsy slingshot loaded with a single mushy pea.

    "Yes!" he says.

    Courage takes aim. The trio continue laughing. Courage releases the string, causing the pea to launch in the air at high speeds, and then pathetically bounce off the balloon. A second later, a massive hole appears on the balloon, spewing out air at an incredible length. The balloon starts shimmying wildly in the air, while the trio are thrown about in the basket.

    "Noooooo!" yells Jessie.

    "Ahhhh!" yells Meowth.

    "Make it stop!" yells James.

    The balloon then suddenly stops midair, no longer leaking air.

    "Huh?" the trio collectively say.

    Then the balloon explodes. The three are launched into the air and over the horizon.

    "Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off again!" they say.

    Courage looks at the horizon and turns back to the audience, looking confused.

    "Huh?" he says.

    Even later that evening...

    Muriel is rocking on the rocking chair whilst Courage is dreamily content laying on her lap.

    "Isn't it wonderful that Eustace won the lottery, Courage? Too bad they mixed up the prizes and sent him on a dream vacation instead."

    Meanwhile, in Kanto...

    "AAAAUUUUUGGGHHH!"

    Eustace is reduced to ashes by a Charmander, only his glasses and hat remaining.

    "Stupid wildlife."

    Meanwhile, back in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas...

    There is a knock on the door.

    "I wonder who that could be?" asks Muriel, as she gets up and opens the door. "Who are you?"

    "Don't mind me," says Deadpool. "I'm just here so that The Teller gets the extra credit without putting any actual effort into it."

    The screen irises out on his face.

    "You owe me now."

    The End

    Credit for picture: "Emma" (littlebuster-k2); Credit for signature: 9dragonsbreed
    So you should expect the truth from me. Only, you shouldn't expect it to be the truth you assumed.
    Oh yes, and you should read my story Happenings Between Goals.

    Also on the reading list: [Silence] (Quarterly Challenge), Rally Interpretation 2, Delibird's Tales (Yuletide One-shot), The Disingenuous Magearna, and Courage's Double Trouble.

  2. #2
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    Hey there! Sorry for the wait concerning your modly review. Right off the bat, I have to say I have mad respect for Courage. It looks goofy and creepy for the sake of being creepy on the surface, but it was actually a pretty intelligent cartoon with a lot of creativity involved. So to see this fic surface on the fic list, it brought back a lot of fond memories for certain episodes and for the general sense of innocence Courage himself had going on.

    That little preface out of the way, though, let’s talk about your fic in particular. As a break from my current reviewing style, I’m going to go a little more in-depth to cover a bit of ground here.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Teller View Post
    In the middle of Nowhere, Kansas, there is an old farmhouse. There is a chicken coop. There is a tall, squeaky windmill, barely moving from a weak breeze. There is an old pickup truck parked outside the house. Despite it being a farmhouse, there are no crops to be found. In fact, the whole land was a desert. There were no other signs of life anywhere to be found.
    One of the toughest things to do is to use a style you’re not typically used to. For example, if you’re normally the kind of person who writes in past tense, sometimes, you find yourself using past tense in a work meant to be told entirely in present tense, as you do here. (Note the last two sentences.) This kind of thing trips up even the best authors, so really, the only thing you can do to combat getting tripped up like that is be extra careful when you’re proofreading and remind yourself that the tense (or POV or what-have-you) is something you need to pay extra attention to.

    Inside the house, a sweet, old lady, Muriel, is rocking in her rocking chair, knitting something expertly. It is too soon into the project to tell what it will be. Sitting on a couch is a crotchety old man, Eustace, who is watching the telly. An overly cautious, purple dog, Courage, is laying on the floor, fast asleep. He dreams of being a NASCAR championship racer, racing right over a man on stilts (who barely manages a squeak before Courage blasts through), under an old lady's skirt, and through a herd of sheep, in quick succession. He crosses the finish line and there is suddenly confetti, along with the sounds of a large audience cheering. He is given an enormous trophy with the words "#1" crudely drawn on the side.
    I have to say, on the one hand, this is kinda cute because it’s something that often does happen in the cartoon, and it’s probably one of the more adorable running gags in the series. I used to love watching Courage’s dream sequences unfold because although the rest of every episode has a heavy dose of surrealism and creativity, those dream sequences were a nice, sugary taste of what to expect later on, and that’s a feeling you’re clearly trying to emulate here.

    However, I’m also not so sure it’s a good move to make. If the fic started off with that element, that would be one thing because you’d have that surreal, cutesy vision breaking into the mundanity of Courage’s normal life. But to start off with a kinda plain-looking bit, only to break into that tiny snap of surrealism is a little bit jarring. See, the main issue is that the cartoon is obviously a visual medium, so you can afford to break from one scene to another because you’re wowing the eye with art and motion; a lot of the personality and flavor of the show is contained within those contrasting elements (of ordinary and what-is-this-even) flashing back and forth. In a text-based medium, as fics are, you’re relying entirely on your words (I know, that sounds obvious, but stay with me), so you need to figure out how to convey images and hold onto the reader’s attention at the same time. So a lot of storytelling relies on timing and an understanding of how readers’ minds tend to work. It’s a lot easier to sustain a single emotion and then transition that emotion once into something else, rather than switch back and forth. So in other words, it’s a lot easier to start off by holding a reader’s attention with something action-packed and weird and then go into slow and mundane once, rather than start off with slow and mundane, switch to action-packed and weird, and then go back to slow and mundane, and that’s all because the reader sees weird and action-packed differently than they see slow and mundane. They need time to process the two different flavors, and sandwiching one of those flavors between two thin slices of the other just creates a weird sandwich.

    This also leads to something else that I notice you do a lot in your work. You often do this thing where you talk at length about facts concerning the setting, rather than allow the images to develop. In this case, you start off with the fact that this story takes place in Nowhere. You go on to tell us the fact that there is a windmill and that there are no crops. This paragraph begins with the fact that Muriel is knitting, but it leads into the fact that the project is too new to get a sense of what it is. In other words, there’s a lot of passive voice going on, so your work starts off feeling like it’s a list of things that are, rather than images that help a reader build a mental picture of the setting.

    What I would suggest is do a few exercises to get used to active voice. Rather than start off with a lot of facts, imagine what’s going on and try to frame that picture with a lot of action verbs. Rather than telling us that there is a windmill that squeaks, try saying, “A windmill stands on a dry, barren field. It squeaks in the hot breeze.” Rather than tell us that Muriel is knitting and that her project is too new to be something understandable, try, “Muriel’s needles click as she weaves colorful yarn between her fingers and into the edge of a square on her lap.” You can even follow this up with, “She hasn’t yet decided what it will be.” Phrasing things with action verbs produce stronger mental images that allow the reader to “enter” your fic by way of picturing exactly what’s going on, so they’ll be more inclined to hang onto your plot—and, for that matter, care about your characters.

    Eustace has a fistful of lottery tickets in his hands.
    Might be better to go with “hand” here, as you’ve got “fistful” earlier in the sentence there. Kinda implies a singular and all, y’know?

    Suddenly, there is a big, noisy kaboom outside.
    Given that “kaboom” is a word that means “loud explosion,” calling it a “big, noisy kaboom” feels a little redundant. Even then, it’s a little uncomfortably young-ish, to be honest. Like … at this point, the narration feels like it’s trying to be light-hearted, but I’ll get to that in more depth later on here.

    Courage manages to continue sleeping through the minor earthquake. However, his dream is shattered by a knock on the door.
    I would recommend reading everything you do out loud to hunt for awkward bits. In this case, you’ve got an entire paragraph devoted to these two lines, so it feels like it immediately contradicts itself, which kinda just sounds awkward because the reader has no time to digest one side or the other. If you combined these ideas, however, (perhaps into “although Courage slept through the earthquake, a knock on the door breaks his dream”—or some other construction that intentionally uses past tense to indicate that, yeah, the earthquake just happened and is now past) then the transition might go a bit smoother.

    Courage walks with her up to the door, and she opens it.
    I’d also combine this line with the next paragraph. In general, you have a lot of one-line paragraphs, which normally would seem like such a minor point, but every time you do a paragraph break, you force the reader to pause a little. Consequently, your writing ends up feeling a little bit choppy and uneven, like it’s bare bones or missing something.

    You can tell by the glint in her eyes and aura that she is not a nice person.
    Hate to say it, but we can’t because we can’t see her. ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

    On a serious note, yeah, avoid descriptions like these because they really don’t mean much at all to a reader. A glint could mean any number of things (even Santa is sometimes described as having a gleam in his eye), and simply telling us she’s not a nice person doesn’t give us a mental image. If anything, it’s pretty much the same issue as the one that’s present at the beginning of the fic: it’s just telling us a fact, so it’s not really all that strong compared to a description that gives us a solid mental image of something specific.

    Granted, I’m not saying you need to describe every little detail (we’ll get into that in a moment), but if you’re going to describe someone, it’s really better to avoid telling the reader that this person is evil or this person is good. It’s better to let the characters’ actions help the reader decide, as actions tend to be stronger than, “Oh, by the way, this is not a very nice person.” And keep in mind that actions can be as simple as having a character scowl and say something incredibly sarcastic or move like a snake or something of the sort.

    In the meantime, this paragraph could use a bit more work anyway. See, the main issue is that you’re basically stopping the action in order to describe these characters. While, sure, it’s possible that Courage really is staring at how outrageous they look, the description goes on for so long and describes so much that it feels more like you’re telling us facts about these characters again, rather than allowing the description to happen naturally. I would recommend doing one of two things: getting Courage more involved with this paragraph (i.e., have him actually stare at these characters) or coupling the characters’ actions with their appearances. (For example, rather than saying James has pink lipstick, perhaps say her bright pink lips stretched in a forced smile.)

    Point is, it feels a little awkward all around, but by remembering the fact that you need to have a reader constantly imagine things (so they stay connected to the story), it’ll probably be easier for you to find that balance between description and action.

    That and, well, if you can get yourself to avoid the passive voice (i.e., “is/are/was/were + another verb), you might be able to practice rearranging sentences to come up with stronger stuff, if that makes sense.

    "Tanks for our service?" asks Muriel.
    True story: While I was skimming this fic before starting in on an actual read-through, I’d missed that James had the previous line, so I thought this was actually Muriel mimicking Meowth’s speech. Which honestly would’ve been hilarious, but hey.

    That being said, though, you probably mean “thanks” there. Unless you do want to give Meowth the preceding line, which is totally cool and up to you (but would probably require a bit more editing).

    I mean, it’s possible that you were trying to emulate Muriel’s accent, but she doesn’t really say “tanks.” She’s definitely capable of “th” sounds. And yeah, I know you really didn’t want crit about it, but in cases like this, it’s like, “Is this a setup for a joke about the accent of a character who does say ‘tanks’ instead of ‘thanks’ or…?”

    "We're high school students who are also part-time safety inspectors,"
    Seems legit.

    explains the taller girl in a thick Valley Girl accent, making exaggerated expressions with her hands as she is talking.
    Hate to follow up a couple of jokes with some crit, but don’t be afraid to break dialogue tags up into tags and sentences. Don’t try to cram everything into one thing. Or, if it helps, try reading this kind of bit out loud without taking a breath. If you find yourself stumbling, then it probably could use some breaking up.

    interjects the smaller girl, never not smiling.
    “Never not _____” works in blogging and responses, but it tends to be a bit more awkward in narration because, well, there’s really no reason why we would believe he wouldn’t be smiling, given the way he seemed so enthusiastic a moment ago (even if that was forced). Changes of expression only really should be noted when there’s a reason to note a change; otherwise, it bogs down the work and kinda makes the humor sound forced.

    "We're from...Vancouver! This is how they dress up there, eh?" explains the taller girl.
    Avenue Q ruined Vancouver for me, so consequently, short skirts on someone from Vancouver seems 100% legit in my mind. *solemn nod*

    "Da ting is, da safe is 'n maultawl dangahr. Da safe is on its' last hinges, on a wing 'n a prayah, abous to tak'n a nice doirt nap," explains the creature in the thickest Boston accent Courage has ever heard.
    Y’know, as someone who’s hella loyal to Boston and hella not loyal to Brooklyn, I am now obligated to tell you that Meowth has a Brooklyn accent … and also let you know that mixing them up when a true Bostonian is within earshot is probably a bad idea. (Brooklyn kids are less inclined to take offense, but you will probably be pitied a lot.)

    In all seriousness, though, if you’re curious about the difference, Brooklyn accents murder consonants, whereas Bostonian accents drag vowels for miles behind their cah, which they will eventually pahk in Havahd Yahd. Bostonians are also generally a little more comprehensible; it’s just that they talk more through their noses than Brooklyn kids, whose accent is spoken through the roof of their mouth and faster (because everything in New York is fast).

    AND THIS HAS BEEN YOUR OBLIGATORY NORTHERNER LESSON OF THE DAY. \o/

    I will say, though, you’ll probably want to scale back a bit on the accent writing. It took me a few tries to understand what “maultawl” meant, and when you sacrifice comprehension for the accent, that’s when you tread dangerous waters.

    "That's all the same thing!" yells Eustace, coming up to the door.
    I’m impressed that he understood that, frankly. *shot!*

    "Sooooooo good with his hands!" chimes in the smaller girl.
    Your standards are as high as usual, I see, James. *shot again!*

    Courage is not buying this for a second. The strange creature with the Boston accent could be tipping him off.
    I’d really love to see a bit more solid description when it comes to Courage’s skepticism here. One of the great things about Courage is that the cowardliness he supposedly has is frequently just straight-up concern, so when he’s confronted with this really dodgy thing that tries to scam Muriel, he always has this amazing look on his face that’s dripping with concern for her. Absolutely, when you see him, you can 100% tell that he isn’t buying the act of the day at all, but it’s the specific way he looks at those things that gives you a hint as to why he takes action in the rest of the episode.

    "Oh of course ya can look at our prized family safe, filled to the brim with priceless family heirlooms, any ONE of which, were it ta go missing, would shatter my emotional state entirely, for the rest of eternity," says Muriel.
    This, however, is absolutely Muriel, and I love it. She’s so adorable but frank, and she’s oddly specific in ways that outline all the reasons why Courage is often concerned about her (or at least ways that make you wonder whether or not she already knows all about the danger she’s facing). It’s a lot of fun when she does things like this, and it’s fun to see it here.

    Meanwhile, just outside the door...
    I’d avoid this, to be honest. This is actually a prime opportunity to introduce a touch more description in order to draw your reader in more. Rather than simply telling us where they are (which tends to be jarring), try just jumping right into the scene with something like, “Meanwhile, just outside the door, the trio exchanged glances.” It’s a lot smoother, and it gives a mental image of action, rather than just stating that something’s going on.

    Same with the “Later that evening” tag that occurs a few paragraphs down.

    The trio giggle to themselves mischievously as they collectively imagine giving Courage to Da Boss, Giovanni. Giovanni has Courage transform into a vacuum cleaner in order to sweep his office carpet. Giovanni has Courage transform into a set of dumbbells in order to do reps every day. Giovanni has Courage transform into a portable fan to cool himself off with on those hot, summer days.
    I’d hate to continue nitpicking, but usually, when this happens in the anime, it’s to offer Meowth a little more characterization. After all, he’s the one who’s usually coming up with all of these ideas and narrating them to Jessie and James, so it says a lot about his imagination.

    To have it done here kinda feels … a little forced, I’d have to say. It doesn’t really say much about any individual member of Team Rocket, and the repetition of “Giovanni has Courage ____” creates a choppy, abrupt feeling that drags the reader along before they can really picture any of these mental images. It’s far, far better to either have Meowth describe these scenarios (as he does in the anime), go into a bit more detail about some of them, or just not do it at all. (The anime does a great job of conjuring Team Rocket’s enthusiasm over capturing Pokémon without employing daydream sequences. It’s just that there was that one series that did because that same series used a lot of running gags.)

    Muriel is cooking up a firestorm in the kitchen, using up several pots and pans. There's no way two people and a dog could eat all this.
    Eat what?

    One of the things you can do when writing is take a step back from what you’ve written. Leave it alone for a day and look at it again after giving your brain plenty of rest. When you tackle it at that point, try to think about what you’re writing from the perspective of someone who has no idea what you’re picturing in your head as you write. If you can’t come up with the same mental image you have in mind, then chances are, your work’s too vague.

    And that’s really the baseline for it. While you certainly don’t have to describe everything, your work should still be able to point the reader in the right direction. As it stands, when you say Muriel is cooking up a storm using several pots and pans, that really doesn’t mean anything to us because it doesn’t help us get a good mental image—and that’s because we have no idea what we should be picturing. Piles of slop? Full-on Thanksgiving dinner? Something in between?

    Sure, you could make an argument for the idea that it doesn’t even really matter what she’s cooking, but this is really just an example. The main point is that vague descriptions and telling us facts about the scene instead of letting it play out via action verbs removes us from the action and holds us at arm’s length from the story. So to get us to reconnect with what you’re saying—which in turn means we’ll be more emotionally invested in your humor or plot or so forth—you’ve got to remember that your readers aren’t operating on your mental images. They’ve only got your words to go on in order to hook into your fic, so you might as well paint as much of a picture as possible without sacrificing the flow of the story.

    Not sure if that advice helps you out (it’s pretty vague too), but I mean, it’s pretty much all about reframing your thinking when you edit. If you think about it in terms of “oh, my reader can’t see the same image as me, so I probably shouldn’t give them bare bones/I probably rely more on action verbs to give the reader a mental image of action going on,” then it might be a bit easier.

    Courage is busy chewing and gnawing on a football goal post, with college football sound effects playing in the background, which nobody seems to acknowledge.
    Y’know, I have to admit I don’t entirely remember the random humor parts of Courage all that well (which should probably tell you something), but I don’t recall anything like this.

    And even then, we’re finally at a good place to talk about humor.

    See, one of the things I’ve noticed with your writing—and don’t get me wrong when I put it this way—is you try a lot when it comes to humor. But the problem is, humor isn’t about funny lolrandom images, and it’s not about saying things out of nowhere. A lot of folks, when they start off with comedy, think it is about all of that, but really, the more you do it in a fic, the more it just kinda feels obvious that you’re trying too hard at it.

    A lot of genres that rely on emotions—namely horror, angst, and comedy—rely on evoking certain visceral emotions within a reader. The core of comedy, then, is not actually random images or being funny; it’s about the reader’s sense of happiness. As in, understanding what makes your readers happy is essential to understanding how humor works.

    That having been said, you can’t just throw an unacknowledged football goal post into a fic and expect people to laugh at that because the fact that it’s not acknowledged and the fact that it’s so big aren’t inherently funny. They might be amusing visually, but there’s not really anything funny about a goal post. That and nothing’s really happening in this scene, so it’s not like the setup makes it funny, either. It’s just sort of there.

    However, what is funny are things the show does by itself. Eustace grabbing his hat back while being suspended by winds, only to have the rest of his clothing ripped off is funny. Eustace hopping over a missile, only for that missile to circle back via a conveniently-shaped cliff to strike him is funny. And the reason why all of this is funny is because it plays to the viewers’ emotions. Eustace is not the most likable character, and he does a lot of terrible things for the sake of self-preservation or the preservation of his earthly possessions. So when we see him get his comeuppance, it’s satisfying, and when we see that happen via ridiculous means, it’s hilarious—all because, well, schadenfreude.

    The problem with being random is that it sort of misses the point of being funny. Take Monty Python for example. Many people take a lot of their jokes out of context because they think “ni” is inherently funny or something, but in actuality, the reason why it’s funny is its context. “Ni” is funny because of the argument surrounding it. Calling someone’s mother a hamster might be amusing, but it’s not quite as funny if it’s not said with a bad French accent (and with full acknowledgment that it is, in actuality, a valid insult—towards King Arthur, no less). That’s why Python references on their own kinda get old after awhile; without that contextual support, the words themselves aren’t that funny.

    Or an even better example: internet humor. If I say the word “dog,” it’s not really all that funny, but if I show you a picture of a crocodile in someone’s backyard and say, “What a weird dog,” then it becomes funny because it’s the opposite of what you’d expect. It’s about setup and timing, not about images. Or it’s about understanding the original context, anyway.

    My point is, the harder you try to be funny by being random, the more it misses its mark and just comes off as, well, a missed mark. Obvious humor. Stuff that might not be so memorable. But! The more you try to work on understand what people find funny and why and the more you work on comedic timing and just sort of letting yourself be humorous (by finding opportunities, rather than forcing things to be funny), the funnier you’ll be. Comedy, like most of the visceral genres, is really best done naturally, in other words.

    Thaaaaat’s probably my main issue for the rest of the story (that and the whole telling versus showing thing I’ve mentioned earlier), so from here on out, I’mma just gonna go ahead and point out any images that stuck out to me (either positively or negatively).

    "Get back here you!" says Jessie.

    "Stop running!" says James.

    "Dinner will be ready in a minute, Courage. Could ya please set the table?" asks Muriel.
    Now I want to say that despite that whole lecture above, the main reason why I went on to you (besides, well, the fact that forcing comedy/drama/horror and lolrandomness are pet peeves of mine) is because you can be funny; it’s just that in a number of cases, you could use some work. As an example of a moment where you’re actually quite funny, check this out. Look at how perfect that comedic timing is. Sure, out of context, it might lose something (although to be fair, all comedy does), and in context, it’ll benefit even more from the support of improved description. But as it stands, though? You have a chase scene passing by a blithely unaware Muriel, and that’s perfectly in-character, both for the players involved and the nature of both shows. That’s funny. Heck, it’s even what bnb was asking for. It is, in short, exactly what you should be doing as much as possible.

    Courage runs over to the kitchen cabinet and grabs plates, silverware, glasses, and napkins, balancing the glasses on his tongue, and runs back over to the table, with the trio still unable to catch him. He circles around the table some more, expertly setting down the plates, silverware, glasses, and napkins. He then reaches behind him and pulls out a candelabra, already lit, and places it at the center of the table.

    "Such a good dog," says Muriel, still not taking her eyes off of the pots and pans.
    And hey, even the act of Courage setting the table is kinda funny, although I’d make it funnier by incorporating more of the chase scene (maybe have him dodge Jessie and James as he does it) and cutting that last line. I know that the show sometimes stops its own notes of danger so Courage can do mundane things like this, but I feel like it just works better in a visual medium than it does in a written one. You definitely lose a lot of zaniness when you cross over to a written medium because your readers don’t see instantly what’s going on (as I’ve kinda sorta mentioned earlier), so that’s definitely something to keep in mind when you put scenes like this together.

    Courage then runs back into the living room and up the stairs, with Eustace ignoring the trio following him. Courage runs into the bedroom and slams the door shut. The trio open it and follow him in. Courage exits from a different door and runs into a third door. The trio follow suit. The four then proceed to do the classic Scooby Doo gag of entering and exiting different doors for awhile. At one point, the trio swapped costumes. At another, Courage is rendered in 3D. In another, Courage is chasing them. At another, Courage is riding a tricycle while Jessie and Meowth are using pogo sticks and James is operating a unicycle and juggling balls.
    Again, things like this only really work in visual media and shouldn’t really happen in written. This is because it’s a sight gag, and sight gags rely on not only the surrealism/zaniness of the image but also the instantaneous, wordless communication of the joke to the reader. It is, in other words, a joke that really shouldn’t be explained, so it doesn’t translate well into a medium where all you can do is explain.

    That and you really shouldn’t call your joke a joke when you make it. *motions to the word “gag”* Granted, I’m not so sure if it’d be a good idea to call it the “Scooby-Doo doors” (which is what you’re legit describing, to be fair), as Scooby Doo really has nothing to do with this fic or, technically, the joke involved, aside from being the source of the trope.

    They creep towards Courage menacingly when they each step on a rake that was left lying on the floor, the stick rising up and hitting them hard in the face. They slink to the ground.
    I’d hate to say it, but I’m of two minds about this joke. It’s a thing that could happen in Courage’s show, but here, it just feels so out-of-place and random that it actually ends up coming off as forced comedy … whiiiiich brings us back up to what I was saying earlier.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love the insanity of the cartoon; it’s just that a lot of its randomness relies on visual, instantaneous humor that doesn’t translate well into a text-only medium. (That and it’s scaled back a bit from this, I think. When it does its thing, it does it with a purpose. The randomness are actually sight gags that give the show more of its creepy, surreal character, which is kinda related to what I was saying earlier about taking things out of context.) That isn’t to say that you can’t create a Courage crossover that captures Courage’s spirit. There’re a lot of other elements to that show that make it what it is. You can totally create a fun, slightly creepy, more surreal atmosphere without needing to rely on sight gags to do it, just by conjuring the kind of creepiness, urban-legend-y stuff Courage covers. Or you could stick to the lighthearted spirit of some of its deeper stuff. Point is, you don’t need sight gags to do a Courage fic; you just have to be a bit creative when it comes to cooking up images that would be Courage-esque.

    Suddenly, from out of the previously foggy sky, the Meowth Balloon appears, with the trio inside the basket, now back into their Team Rocket uniforms.
    Well, first and foremost, you’ll want “in” instead of “into,” but even then, I think there may be too many dependent clauses here. Maybe rearrange things to form a compound sentence? (I mean, try reading this aloud. Notice how it’s a bit awkward to hear?)

    James is eating from a bag of pretzels.
    I know that you’re doing this to get something to rhyme with “crossover” in the motto, but again, it just comes off as too forced to be funny. I mean, there really are better rhymes out there. Like, you could say:

    “Prepare for trouble; we’re taking this fic over!”

    “Make it double; we’re the stars of this crossover!”

    Or something to that effect. (I mean, Jessie and James do tend to add stuff onto their “prepare for trouble” part of their motto, rather than substitute, so it’d totally be in-character for them to do something like this. It’s just that this is an option. Heck, you don’t even really have to include the word “crossover” at all if this or none of the other rhymes work.)

    "Don't mind me," says Deadpool. "I'm just here so that The Teller gets the extra credit without putting any actual effort into it."
    *picks up her tea and drinks it*

    Soooo … I know all of this sounds harsh, and I apologize for that. I think you’re really trying, and on some notes, I think you did a good job aiming for the essence of both franchises. Aside from the boss daydream (which could just use some tweaking), Team Rocket was definitely Team Rocket, but more importantly, Courage, Muriel, and Eustace were definitely Courage, Muriel, and Eustace. In fact, honestly, I’d say that if a reader wasn’t a fan of Courage, they’d be able to get an idea of who these characters are based on what you say about them. Sure, I say I kinda wish Courage did the whole “the things I do for love” thing (i.e., was more emotive and reactive towards Muriel), but even then, Courage is still Courage here.

    But really, the character I liked the most had to be Muriel. Sure, she wasn’t on screen that often, but when she was, she was spot-on, including and especially that part where she asks Courage to set the table and is, in general, hilariously oblivious to the chasing going on. Then again, I might be biased because Muriel’s my favorite Courage character, but I honestly liked what you did with her.

    So really, all I’m saying is that the humor could use a bit more work. The first thing you have to do is remember that attempting to describe an episode of Courage exactly doesn’t work because forcing sight jokes to become written jokes doesn’t work. You lose something in the translation, and you end up coming off as summarizing a joke, rather than actually making one. So don’t rely so much on the jokes the episodes make in order to get your fic to work. Use the spirit of the show—the actual atmosphere, typical plots, and characterization—to build your fanfic.

    Moreover, relax when you’re trying to be funny. I know I keep saying, “This is a good example of what I mean,” but humor is hard to describe and explain (beyond “try to think about what other people do”). But lemme also touch on that Deadpool reference. You probably stuck that in because Deadpool is trending now and is associated with humor, yeah? But the problem is, just having Deadpool in your fic isn’t funny, kinda like I said earlier. What would make it funny is, well, if you were a bit more careful about comedic timing and context. Don’t just present jokes other people have told, and don’t succumb to lolrandom. You work best when you come up with things naturally, when things just happen and make sense in succession in a way that’s funny. (Like that bit about Muriel walking in and asking Courage to set the table mid-chase, for example.)

    And of course, take your time with your fic. When you’re writing comedy, it’s more important than ever to be careful about how you build your narration and how well you can get your readers to latch onto what you’re saying. It’s all related to what I said earlier about feeling as if you were summarizing a lot. Try break the habit of using passive voice wherever active voice is better used instead. Read your sentences aloud and try to think about whether they sound like they’re summarizing or whether they’re actually describing a thing that’s happening. (And of course, read your sentences aloud to figure out whether or not they’re awkward, as some bits are here.)

    Soooo … I guess the end point is your fic isn’t exactly bad. It’s certainly doing what it’s setting out to do as a Courage/Pokémon crossover. It’s just that there’s a lot of room for improvement in both the humor and the description, which itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    That all said, here’s hoping half of this made sense! b)’’)b You’ve definitely got potential either way (like I said, I really liked the jokes involving Courage setting the table), so it should be interesting to see what you come up with from here on out.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    For example, if you’re normally the kind of person who writes in past tense, sometimes, you find yourself using past tense in a work meant to be told entirely in present tense, as you do here. (Note the last two sentences.)
    Dag-nabbit, this passed through TWO betas!

    I used to love watching Courage’s dream sequences unfold because although the rest of every episode has a heavy dose of surrealism and creativity, those dream sequences were a nice, sugary taste of what to expect later on, and that’s a feeling you’re clearly trying to emulate here.
    Weird, I don't recall Courage having a lot of actual dream sequences at all. Imagine Spots, yes, but dream sequences?

    However, I’m also not so sure it’s a good move to make. If the fic started off with that element, that would be one thing because you’d have that surreal, cutesy vision breaking into the mundanity of Courage’s normal life. But to start off with a kinda plain-looking bit, only to break into that tiny snap of surrealism is a little bit jarring.
    I wrote that first paragraph for all the people who have never seen the cartoon before, and therefore don't know where the cartoon takes place. Also, most episodes, like Family Guy, tend to start off with an establishing shot of the farm, and I tried to write this story to be as much like an episode from the cartoon as possible (warning: this will be a recurring theme).

    In other words, there’s a lot of passive voice going on, so your work starts off feeling like it’s a list of things that are, rather than images that help a reader build a mental picture of the setting.

    What I would suggest is do a few exercises to get used to active voice. Rather than start off with a lot of facts, imagine what’s going on and try to frame that picture with a lot of action verbs. Phrasing things with action verbs produce stronger mental images that allow the reader to “enter” your fic by way of picturing exactly what’s going on, so they’ll be more inclined to hang onto your plot—and, for that matter, care about your characters.
    I've heard that this is a consistent problem I have when it comes to creative writing. I'm rather passive in real life so writing passively is just an automatic thing for me, you know?

    Given that “kaboom” is a word that means “loud explosion,” calling it a “big, noisy kaboom” feels a little redundant. Even then, it’s a little uncomfortably young-ish, to be honest. Like … at this point, the narration feels like it’s trying to be light-hearted, but I’ll get to that in more depth later on here.
    This might be a little residue from the fairy tale mode I was in to write the Yuletide, or maybe it's just awkward writing?

    If you combined these ideas, however, (perhaps into “although Courage slept through the earthquake, a knock on the door breaks his dream”—or some other construction that intentionally uses past tense to indicate that, yeah, the earthquake just happened and is now past) then the transition might go a bit smoother.
    Transitioning sentences are also a lifelong battle for me.

    I’d also combine this line with the next paragraph. In general, you have a lot of one-line paragraphs, which normally would seem like such a minor point, but every time you do a paragraph break, you force the reader to pause a little. Consequently, your writing ends up feeling a little bit choppy and uneven, like it’s bare bones or missing something.
    One-line paragraphs are the result of me never knowing if a transition sentence technically belongs at the end of a paragraph or the beginning of the next one, so it goes in neither, just out of spite! Also, bigger one-line paragraphs are never one-line on my Word document, and I always forget the website doesn't do 1-inch margins, so my perception of sentence length is always skewed.

    Hate to say it, but we can’t because we can’t see her. ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ
    No explaining my line of thinking here. Just wanted to say that that's the first time I've seen that emoticon before.

    In the meantime, this paragraph could use a bit more work anyway. See, the main issue is that you’re basically stopping the action in order to describe these characters.
    It goes on for so long because I was trying to get across the fact that this is a reference to the St. Anne episode. I felt that I wasn't incorporating enough Pokémon into my Courage story, so I put that reference in. If it wasn't a success, then it wasn't a success.

    I mean, it’s possible that you were trying to emulate Muriel’s accent,
    Bingo.

    “Never not _____” works in blogging and responses, but it tends to be a bit more awkward in narration because, well, there’s really no reason why we would believe he wouldn’t be smiling, given the way he seemed so enthusiastic a moment ago (even if that was forced). Changes of expression only really should be noted when there’s a reason to note a change; otherwise, it bogs down the work and kinda makes the humor sound forced.
    I was trying to tell the reader that James was smiling even when a normal human being wouldn't be, like some con artist selling their pitch to you, or a Stepford Smiler.

    Avenue Q ruined Vancouver for me, so consequently, short skirts on someone from Vancouver seems 100% legit in my mind. *solemn nod*
    True story: this is the remnant of a rewrite and a massive overhaul. I liked the joke though, so I kept it in and rewrote the scene around it.

    Y’know, as someone who’s hella loyal to Boston and hella not loyal to Brooklyn, I am now obligated to tell you that Meowth has a Brooklyn accent … and also let you know that mixing them up when a true Bostonian is within earshot is probably a bad idea. (Brooklyn kids are less inclined to take offense, but you will probably be pitied a lot.)
    This is squarely all my fault. I probably thought "Brooklyn" and typed "Boston" and never noticed the mistake (and again, neither did my two betas).

    Your standards are as high as usual, I see, James. *shot again!*
    I'm proud of this one.

    I’d really love to see a bit more solid description when it comes to Courage’s skepticism here.
    Typically when this happens in the cartoon, the "camera" focuses on Courage's face for only a second or two before going back to the "scammer," and once again, I tried to make this as much like an episode as possible.

    I’d avoid this, to be honest. This is actually a prime opportunity to introduce a touch more description in order to draw your reader in more. Rather than simply telling us where they are (which tends to be jarring), try just jumping right into the scene with something like, “Meanwhile, just outside the door, the trio exchanged glances.” It’s a lot smoother, and it gives a mental image of action, rather than just stating that something’s going on.
    Transition sentences, man.

    I’d hate to continue nitpicking, but usually, when this happens in the anime, it’s to offer Meowth a little more characterization. After all, he’s the one who’s usually coming up with all of these ideas and narrating them to Jessie and James, so it says a lot about his imagination.
    Absolutely true. Weirdly, I know of the running gag, but I never really watched that era of the anime, so the fact that Meowth conjures up most of the scenarios is news to me.

    To have it done here kinda feels … a little forced, I’d have to say.
    More "I don't think the judges are happy with the scarce amount of Pokémon in this story. Better add in another element from the show specifically, since the Trio don't really appear in the games or Pokémon Adventures."

    It doesn’t really say much about any individual member of Team Rocket,
    If the Pokémon fans on the Pokémon website are reading a Pokémon story and don't know who the Team Rocket trio are, then something is very wrong here.

    ...and the repetition of “Giovanni has Courage ____” creates a choppy, abrupt feeling that drags the reader along before they can really picture any of these mental images.
    This was me trying to put bullet points into paragraph form. Maybe something blah blah "repetition and patterns are instinctually calming to the human brain?" I don't know.

    Eat what?
    I think, besides breakfast, we rarely get to see the end result to Muriel's cooking. But my memory of the show isn't perfect...

    As it stands, when you say Muriel is cooking up a storm using several pots and pans, that really doesn’t mean anything to us because it doesn’t help us get a good mental image—and that’s because we have no idea what we should be picturing. Piles of slop? Full-on Thanksgiving dinner? Something in between?
    True. People who watched the show know what kind of cooking Muriel does, but people who didn't, wouldn't know based solely on the fact that many pots and pans were used. To go with the above, I went with the line of thinking of "well the show never shows us what she's making, so I won't either, to keep the 'true essence' of the show intact." But yes, indicating as much to the non-show fans would've been helpful.

    Y’know, I have to admit I don’t entirely remember the random humor parts of Courage all that well (which should probably tell you something), but I don’t recall anything like this.
    There was at least one scene where Courage was randomly chewing on a ship's anchor in the living room (though I don't think a piratey tune went with it), so I had that in mind when I wrote this line.

    That having been said, you can’t just throw an unacknowledged football goal post into a fic and expect people to laugh at that because the fact that it’s not acknowledged and the fact that it’s so big aren’t inherently funny. They might be amusing visually, but there’s not really anything funny about a goal post. That and nothing’s really happening in this scene, so it’s not like the setup makes it funny, either. It’s just sort of there.
    I didn't write that line to be laugh-out-loud funny, or to be a joke. It was an amusing sight that would occasionally happen in the show, so I wrote an amusing sight that would occasionally happen in the show. It IS just sort of there in the show for no real reason, so I feel at least a little justified for having it in here.

    That and you really shouldn’t call your joke a joke when you make it. *motions to the word “gag”* Granted, I’m not so sure if it’d be a good idea to call it the “Scooby-Doo doors” (which is what you’re legit describing, to be fair), as Scooby Doo really has nothing to do with this fic or, technically, the joke involved, aside from being the source of the trope.
    Fair enough. I used the phrase "Scooby-Doo doors" (taken from TV Tropes, of course) as a shorthand for describing to readers that this gag goes on for awhile before the next scene happens. Again, trying to write a cartoon episode rather than a short story. *uses stage direction tags like crazy*

    I’d hate to say it, but I’m of two minds about this joke. It’s a thing that could happen in Courage’s show, but here, it just feels so out-of-place and random that it actually ends up coming off as forced comedy …
    I'll be honest. At this point in the story, I had written myself into a corner and couldn't think of a Courage way to get Courage out of the room and hinder TR at the same time, and then I remembered all the Sideshow Bob episodes and decided to use them.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love the insanity of the cartoon; it’s just that a lot of its randomness relies on visual, instantaneous humor that doesn’t translate well into a text-only medium.
    I get that, and that was the risk I was taking, writing this.

    I know that you’re doing this to get something to rhyme with “crossover” in the motto, but again, it just comes off as too forced to be funny. I mean, there really are better rhymes out there. Like, you could say:

    “Prepare for trouble; we’re taking this fic over!”

    “Make it double; we’re the stars of this crossover!”
    The problem there being that you're still rhyming "over" with "over." It Just Bugs Me, YMMV, other Tv Tropes jargon. But yes, the pretzel joke does seem a bit stale.

    *picks up her tea and drinks it*
    I don't even know if this means you liked the joke or not.

    Sure, I say I kinda wish Courage did the whole “the things I do for love” thing (i.e., was more emotive and reactive towards Muriel),
    Team Rocket left Muriel alone after they found the shapeshifting moneymaker, which was fairly early in the story, and all the danger was placed on Courage, so I felt there was no need for there to be scenes of the two together beyond what was necessary.

    So really, all I’m saying is that the humor could use a bit more work. The first thing you have to do is remember that attempting to describe an episode of Courage exactly doesn’t work because forcing sight jokes to become written jokes doesn’t work. You lose something in the translation, and you end up coming off as summarizing a joke, rather than actually making one. So don’t rely so much on the jokes the episodes make in order to get your fic to work. Use the spirit of the show—the actual atmosphere, typical plots, and characterization—to build your fanfic.
    You may not like "Dragons of Mind" then. *blatant advertising*

    You probably stuck that in because Deadpool is trending now and is associated with humor, yeah?
    I used Deadpool because of his medium awareness, his tendency to be in all sorts of works beyond his own, his willingness to shill out for an extra buck or two, his ability to say what we're all thinking but can't say out loud, and yes, his recent spike in public awareness thanks to the new movie and his humor. Originally, I was going to have him cuss out both me and the Quarterly mods because that would totally be a thing he would do, but then I thought that might be taking the joke a bit too far, so I rewrote it into what you got.

    don’t succumb to lolrandom
    It is too late for me, but you can still save yourself! *throws a pie in your face because it is lol and random*

    Ok, so don't be offended if it sounded like I was being completely stubborn and ignorant this whole time. I just wanted to explain what my thought processes were when I did such and such. (Except for the football goal line. I'm defending that one!) And my default online personality is humorous so, like a Batman villain, I have to speak my mind with an underlying hint of humor to it. I do acknowledge what you have told me (the cartoon's style of humor doesn't quite translate well to written form; trying to write a story more like a cartoon script doesn't quite work and that there should be more showing than telling for this sort of thing) and can agree with it. For sure, the actual technical aspects you talked about are stuff I need to work on (or were just mistakes that slipped by me and the betas). Thanks for turning a critical eye to the story, and I hope I didn't ruin all your childhood memories of Courage the Cowardly Dog!

    Credit for picture: "Emma" (littlebuster-k2); Credit for signature: 9dragonsbreed
    So you should expect the truth from me. Only, you shouldn't expect it to be the truth you assumed.
    Oh yes, and you should read my story Happenings Between Goals.

    Also on the reading list: [Silence] (Quarterly Challenge), Rally Interpretation 2, Delibird's Tales (Yuletide One-shot), The Disingenuous Magearna, and Courage's Double Trouble.

  4. #4
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    First and foremost!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Teller View Post
    Ok, so don't be offended if it sounded like I was being completely stubborn and ignorant this whole time. I just wanted to explain what my thought processes were when I did such and such.
    No worries. Totes not offended; I do the same thing all the time too. It definitely helps to talk things out—or at least, it does for me, anyway.

    Still, I’mma gonna go ahead and answer some stuff that I kinda thought were more questions/things that were asking for clarification. I’m going to assume you get the whole point about text vs. visual mediums, so I’ll do my best to minimize the talk about that.

    Dag-nabbit, this passed through TWO betas!
    Haha, no worries! Sometimes, even if you have a beta, things can slip through. It’s always good to have a careful eye yourself so that you have another pair of eyes to go over your work.

    Weird, I don't recall Courage having a lot of actual dream sequences at all. Imagine Spots, yes, but dream sequences?
    Apparently, they were only used in episodes about nightmares, so I stand corrected!

    I wrote that first paragraph for all the people who have never seen the cartoon before, and therefore don't know where the cartoon takes place. Also, most episodes, like Family Guy, tend to start off with an establishing shot of the farm, and I tried to write this story to be as much like an episode from the cartoon as possible (warning: this will be a recurring theme).
    Well, again, just because it happens in a visual medium doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work with a visual medium. The main point is that there are definitely ways to establish a location in writing. For example, if you absolutely had to state where the story takes place, you could still start off with the dream sequence (as I’ve mentioned) but then move on to the mundane scenes but mention, for example, that Courage woke up to a completely ordinary day in Nowhere, Kansas.

    However, even then, you could actually get away with not stating where, specifically, the story takes place. That’s not exactly a necessary detail that the reader has to know; they just need to know that Courage is at home.

    In other words, it’s a matter of rearranging the scenes so that you’re not switching back and forth between spots and creating that awkward flow. It’s not a matter of dropping actual, valuable content.

    I've heard that this is a consistent problem I have when it comes to creative writing. I'm rather passive in real life so writing passively is just an automatic thing for me, you know?
    Lmao, I’mma gonna assume that’s a pun. *finger-guns your way*

    This might be a little residue from the fairy tale mode I was in to write the Yuletide, or maybe it's just awkward writing?
    Admittedly hard to say! You could’ve also been thinking about the cartoonish source material you’re working with, so it’s anyone’s guess, tbqh.

    Transitioning sentences are also a lifelong battle for me.
    Haha, it’s true that they take some bit of practice to get used to, and even the best folks have trouble getting them down. Definitely, the idea of reading through aloud will help, though. Usually, if you can hear what you’re writing, you can pick up on stuff you wouldn’t normally notice. This goes especially for transitions, imo, because you’ll know if you’re missing something just because it’ll sound like it’s missing something.

    Idk, not even sure if that makes sense, but it’s worth a shot, y’know?

    One-line paragraphs are the result of me never knowing if a transition sentence technically belongs at the end of a paragraph or the beginning of the next one, so it goes in neither, just out of spite!
    XD Well, that’s one way to do it.

    Realtalk, though, what helps for me, anyway, is thinking about paragraphs in terms of the age-old “same topic = same paragraph” concept. If a sentence adds to one paragraph more than another, thread it into the paragraph it sounds like it belongs to. For example, in this case, the paragraph after this covers the chain of events set off by Courage opening that door, so it stands to reason that the part where Courage opens the door should start off that paragraph.

    Also, bigger one-line paragraphs are never one-line on my Word document, and I always forget the website doesn't do 1-inch margins, so my perception of sentence length is always skewed.
    Ah, gotcha. And preview doesn’t help much either.

    Well, putting it another way, then…! Basically, if you have a sentence standing on its own, that says to the reader that whatever’s in that sentence should be emphasized. You know the “dun-dun-DUUUUUN” tone? One-sentence paragraphs don’t exactly call to mind that tone (not in a literal sense, anyway), but they call to mind the feeling that tone evokes. Like, one-sentence paragraphs (dialogue and stuff that’s completely unrelated to the paragraph before and after it notwithstanding—which, yeah, I know makes this whole shebang more complicated) tend to have an “abrupt” feeling to them, so the reader pays more attention to them. But if you have a bunch of one-sentence paragraphs all over the place, that ends up being a little jarring to the reader because the paragraph break gives them an unnecessary break in their reading momentum, if that makes sense.

    Sooooo, what I mean to say is this: if you mean to interrupt the flow of the story, add in a paragraph break after a sentence. If you didn’t and if the stuff you’re saying is related to the paragraph before or after the sentence you’re writing (and it’s not dialogue), don’t let that sentence stand on its own.

    No explaining my line of thinking here. Just wanted to say that that's the first time I've seen that emoticon before.
    It’s probably one of my favorites. XD Google “Leo walk”; it’s the emoticon equivalent of that.

    It goes on for so long because I was trying to get across the fact that this is a reference to the St. Anne episode. I felt that I wasn't incorporating enough Pokémon into my Courage story, so I put that reference in. If it wasn't a success, then it wasn't a success.
    Oh, sure—it’s fine to reference the St. Anne episode, but it’s not really fine to stop the action of the story in order to drop a block of description. Since you’ve mentioned TVTropes earlier, lemme try to explain it a bit better by dropping another trope for you to check out. Basically, if you have to stop the narration to describe a character (i.e., “This character is blonde, has blue eyes, was wearing this, this, and this…”), then what you’re doing is called an infodump. (Yes, the article makes it seem like you can only do it when you describe a world, but it extends to character appearances as well. Alternatively, check out Description in the Mirror, which is the same kind of thing but in a very specific circumstance.) It’s a little jarring to the reader and forces them to break out of their reading momentum, so it’s not typically a good thing to do.

    However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t describe your characters ever. As I said in my crit, the trick is to do it one of two ways (if you’re going to do it at all, which you do want to do):

    1. Combine it with the action of the scene (e.g., “One of the girls flips her orange hair and smiles with overly glossed lips.”)
    2. Make it obvious that the narration is taking its time describing these characters because these traits are catching Courage’s eye (e.g., “Courage stares. They don’t look like any safe inspector he’s ever seen. [insert description here]”)

    In other words, make your description be part of the story. Don’t stop the story just to describe your characters.

    I was trying to tell the reader that James was smiling even when a normal human being wouldn't be, like some con artist selling their pitch to you, or a Stepford Smiler.
    Fair, but there are definitely better ways to phrase things like that than relying on internet slang, though. For example, you could say something along the lines of, “...interjects the girl. Courage can’t help but notice that her smile never faltered. This makes him feel uncomfortable, although he can’t quite put his finger on why.” Sure, it’s wordier, but it’s also a little less cheesy because you’re using more neutral vocabulary, if you get what I mean.

    Nuances, in other words. Nuances.

    This is squarely all my fault. I probably thought "Brooklyn" and typed "Boston" and never noticed the mistake (and again, neither did my two betas).
    XD To an outsider, this is an easy mistake to make, ngl. *shot for a third time!*

    Typically when this happens in the cartoon, the "camera" focuses on Courage's face for only a second or two before going back to the "scammer," and once again, I tried to make this as much like an episode as possible.
    Definitely, yeah, you have those split-second transitions in the cartoon, but because the cartoon is highly visual, it can do that. You get the whole point just with one split-second glance, so you don’t need to draw anything out. In a text medium, however, you don’t get the advantage of relying on visuals, so you have to be a lot more careful with your words.

    Also, split-second glances mean something entirely different in a written medium than it does in a cartoon. Whereas in a cartoon, split-second glances indicate a fast-paced “conversation” between one subject and another (smash cuts, for example), split-second glances in writing typically aren’t jokey. They’re meant to feed the fast-paced nature of a scene and essentially pump up the adrenaline by forcing the reader along before they can fully digest what they’re seeing.

    Soooo … long story short, it gets complicated, but hopefully, this explains a bit better why it’s a good idea to keep in mind that cartoon techniques =/= writing techniques and that it’s a good idea to remind yourself to use the latter if you’re writing a short story. You can certainly adapt writing techniques to create a cartoon-like feel for your writing, but you can’t really adapt cartoon techniques to create the same feel for the same medium.

    Absolutely true. Weirdly, I know of the running gag, but I never really watched that era of the anime, so the fact that Meowth conjures up most of the scenarios is news to me.
    XD Yeah, it’s 100% Meowth, largely because Meowth’s the one who wants to get on the boss’s good side. Sure, the entire TRio wants promotions and fame, but Meowth’s main goal is literally to be the top cat (i.e., usurp Persian). So you see that coming out with that gag because Meowth has … a really interesting relationship with Giovanni in his head. Jessie and James only visualize the boss in odd positions because Meowth’s telling these scenes to them, and they really want a promotion.

    More "I don't think the judges are happy with the scarce amount of Pokémon in this story. Better add in another element from the show specifically, since the Trio don't really appear in the games or Pokémon Adventures."
    Fair enough! I kinda feel like there could be better ways to do it, though. Even just by letting their personalities shine through (or maybe add in a dash of general Pokémon bits—like having them attempt to battle Courage with whichever team you want to use, for example) could be enough. Having the fantasy bit here doesn’t really lend anything to their characters.

    Which brings me to the next part…!

    If the Pokémon fans on the Pokémon website are reading a Pokémon story and don't know who the Team Rocket trio are, then something is very wrong here.
    Eeeeeh, at the risk of being overly blunt, this isn’t quite what I meant.

    Before I get into it, though, lemme just say that you don’t have to explain the basics of these characters, but you still have to let their personalities shine through with development, y’know? I’m getting that out just so that we can establish that when I say, “do things that help develop these characters,” I don’t mean “explain the characters to the reader.” I mean “seems like you’ll need to put more effort into making these characters feel like they’re in-character and/or like they’re figures with three-dimensional personalities, not just a collection of tropes or gimmicks.” This is all because one-dimensional characters (characters who are just certain traits or roles and not much more) aren’t quite as interesting as three-dimensional or developed characters (which are totally achievable, even in a comedic short story), and the more interesting a character is to a reader, the more likely they’ll feel invested in the story itself.

    That said, even that is not entirely what I mean because … the crit you’re quoting there is actually talking about the exact opposite.

    Put it this way. Have you ever heard of Chekhov’s Gun? You know, the idea that if you have a gun on the mantelpiece in Act I, it should be shot by Act III? Similar principle: never do anything that doesn’t somehow contribute to the story or its characters. What I meant when I offered up that crit is that the fantasy sequence doesn’t say anything about the characters. It doesn’t add any information to them, and it doesn’t develop them any further. It’s just kinda there, either to serve as a point of humor (which … it kinda doesn’t, largely because the folks who recognize it had to see it literally every episode for a solid season or so) or to tell a reader that this is the anime (which, again, is a point you could make using other techniques). So literally, what I was trying to tell you is that you could literally cut it out and be better off.

    This was me trying to put bullet points into paragraph form. Maybe something blah blah "repetition and patterns are instinctually calming to the human brain?" I don't know.
    Actually! Believe it or not, but repetition in narration isn’t necessarily calming to the human brain. While it deals more with sentence length, this post still gives you a nice, illustrated idea of how sentence variation affects the way you read things. Just imagine the first paragraph talking about the exact same sentence beginning, and you’ve got the same idea.

    Granted, there are ways to use sentence repetition in your work … but it’s actually for highlighting suspense. If you do it smack in the middle of an action scene, for example, it’s the textual equivalent of bullet time. You’re slowing down the narration by repeating, so your readers feel like they’re watching Neo dodge bullets. That’s why it’s not really calming to a reader. If it’s done excessively, it could do some pretty nasty things to the flow of your story, but if it’s done the right way, what it actually conveys is emphasis or action, ironically enough.

    There was at least one scene where Courage was randomly chewing on a ship's anchor in the living room (though I don't think a piratey tune went with it), so I had that in mind when I wrote this line.
    I didn't write that line to be laugh-out-loud funny, or to be a joke. It was an amusing sight that would occasionally happen in the show, so I wrote an amusing sight that would occasionally happen in the show. It IS just sort of there in the show for no real reason, so I feel at least a little justified for having it in here.
    True, but again, text medium vs. visual medium. You can get away with both of these if you were showing a viewer something visually and auditorily interesting. You can’t really get away with it if all they’ve got is text.

    Or, in other words, things like these work in the cartoon because they’re sight gags (or at least something like the anchor is) and therefore rely on the fact that the image is bright, colorful, and accompanied by cartoony sounds to make things interesting. It loses something when it’s translated over into text because you’re relying entirely on text, which itself relies on narrative flow. Lolrandom breaks down because of that narrative flow, as lolrandom derails the audience’s reading momentum and creates an awkward, jarring moment that feels more like an interruption than a piece of the story.

    Fair enough. I used the phrase "Scooby-Doo doors" (taken from TV Tropes, of course) as a shorthand for describing to readers that this gag goes on for awhile before the next scene happens.
    Yep, I’m familiar with it. It’s just that you should really, really avoid referring to a thing by its TVTropes name, in part because not everyone knows every trope and in part because using shorthand/slang (which TVTropes basically is) in lieu of description is kinda not cool in writing (unless you’re using a narrative voice that would do that consistently). It’s definitely better to just say that it continues on for a bit until something different happens. (And even then, I’d suggest tying it to Courage’s POV. Like saying, “Courage continues running from door to door, to the point where even he feels like it’s getting excessive.” Only probably not that way, but something that ties the concept more to the characters experiencing them, you know?)

    The problem there being that you're still rhyming "over" with "over." It Just Bugs Me, YMMV, other Tv Tropes jargon. But yes, the pretzel joke does seem a bit stale.
    Also true! But it involves one less bag of pretzels. ;D

    I don't even know if this means you liked the joke or not.
    Admittedly, it was more like the text version of this. ‘Cause what does a reviewer say when the story is the one criticizing the author, y’know? Usually a bad sign, particularly if one’s used to Mystery Science Theater 3000. *sage nod*

    Team Rocket left Muriel alone after they found the shapeshifting moneymaker, which was fairly early in the story, and all the danger was placed on Courage, so I felt there was no need for there to be scenes of the two together beyond what was necessary.
    Sure, but I mean the general aura. Courage might be billed as cowardly, but he’s got a pretty specific kind of personality—like, he runs on love and devotion and loyalty, and beyond that, he’s kinda a contradiction. Like, jittery but will do what needs to be done to protect himself and his home. He’s serious and straight-laced, but he’s got a good heart and will stand up to do what’s right if he needs to. In other words, he’s a lawful good softie with a backbone he doesn’t even realize he has. But the thing is, I’m not sure it really came across here. Sure, he was clever, and sure, he was reactive, but he wasn’t exactly the selfless Courage fans know and love, you know? And it’s less because he was actively not (you had him get close to that as you could) but instead because he wasn’t really given the space to be the Courage fans know and love because of how the story jumps from thing to thing. It’s probably because it’s trying to be cartoon-length in a literal sense (rather than a more storytelling sense), so you feel like you need to rush through and get in as many visually cartoonish elements as possible.

    I used Deadpool because of his medium awareness, his tendency to be in all sorts of works beyond his own, his willingness to shill out for an extra buck or two, his ability to say what we're all thinking but can't say out loud, and yes, his recent spike in public awareness thanks to the new movie and his humor. Originally, I was going to have him cuss out both me and the Quarterly mods because that would totally be a thing he would do, but then I thought that might be taking the joke a bit too far, so I rewrote it into what you got.
    Fair ‘nough, but as you might’ve gathered after that response a couple quotes ago, it was … probably not exactly necessary. XD;

    That all said, hope this explains a thing or few a little better, but feel free to keep talkin’/askin’~!
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 2nd May 2016 at 4:43 AM.
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  5. #5
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    Sooooo I maaay actually have a massive backlog of reviews I desperately owe people I've been sitting on for ages, but I decided, hey! This was a fun entry and I wanted to give my thoughts on it sooner rather than later.

    Jax already made a ton of good points, and she's already covered plenty on the visual gag vs. written gag stuff (which I stumble not too uncommonly myself on), so I'll go ahead and expand on another thing she mentioned and add another note on tone.

    First off, yeah, a lot of what Jax said about how randomness isn't humorous on its own and how humor can't be forced really rings true. On the first, the actual root of humor is absurdity, which isn't the same thing as randomness; second, as Jax implies, the absurdity needs to be meaningful in context in a way that hopefully makes the audience laugh. Like, on the note on gratuitous Monty Python references being utterly discredited at this point - when endlessly repeated out of their original context, they gradually lose all meaning and cease to elicit any laughs. On the note of Internet humor, this is also why nearly every internet meme gets horribly stale and passe given long eno-

    -three guys in red uniforms bust in-

    Guy 1: NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITI-

    Oh, hey, you guys are right on schedule.

    Spanish Inquisition Member 2: ...What?

    I was just explaining to The Teller why gratuitously inserting guys like you into situations teds to fall flat in the funny department, and you demonstrated exactly as planned.

    Spanish Inquisition Member 3: But we HAVE to be unexpected! That's in the job description!

    Sorry, but from how overused you guys have gotten, pretty much every major website has an anti-Spanish Inquisition Warning now. Everybody expects you guys by now.

    Spanish Inquisition Member 1: ...Now what?

    Train to be ninjas! They have a slightly higher chance of being unexpected.

    -the three nod and exit-

    OK, so content-wise that was likely a terrible and hacky example you should probably never follow because I'm pretty sure jokes about overused Python references are dead in and of themselves, but structure-wise it's at least pretty close to what Jax and I were talking about. I used the context of the review to try to give that terrible gag some absurd meaning. On Jax's note on Internet humor in a similar regard, only reason she wasn't spot on is because gators are Floridian Swamp Cats, not dogs, shut up.

    Also, on humor not being forced, what that means is you can totally go into the story with the intent to be humorous overall, but when it comes to actually putting the humor in, you can't just shoehorn it into whatever point of the story you want. You need to look for opportunities given for you by the story and characters to create those gags for themselves - like, I used my explanation of how Python references and other memes grow old quickly as an opportunity to bring in a self-demonstrating dead Python meme. That's basically a major part of the whole "comedic timing" thing Jax mentioned. That sort of thing takes a lot of practice - I genuinely don't think I have it down all that well myself - but you actually do do it often enough in this story you can definitely get a much better grasp on it if you try!

    The other, more personal note of mine in terms of crit is actually related to something Jax said about Courage the Cowardly Dog itself - it's often perceived as gratuitously creepy when in reality its darker and horror elements were pretty well-handled for a show of its time. And ironically my biggest criticism of this story is it's not creepy enough. Even with the execution issues you've got a wonderful grasp of the show's lighter sense of humor spiritually (and Team Rocket's as well) but you said you wanted it to come across like an actual episode of the show and the one big thing your story is missing there there is Courage's horror-y bite.

    Which is why I actually had a fun suggestion to bring up for if you ever revise this story. You know full well yourself the Deadpool attempt to fill the extra credit was hacky.

    Deadpool: I told you, the Teller! See, people think they can just throw me in anything and be funny, exactly like those Python references! Guys like you are the reason I'll be forced to sit at a bar with Wolverine moping about how popularity ruined our careers.

    ...

    -rips Deadpool's costume off to reveal one of the Spanish Inquisition members in his underwear-

    Deadpool is not a ninja, and don't be a jerk to the Teller. Scram.

    -the Spanish inquisition member blushes and flees-

    But what I was trying to suggest is you could have killed two birds with one stone by having the horror element be from a third work of fiction so Courage could team up with the TRio to stop it or something like that.

    That all being said, sorry if that came off as a lot of crit on top of Jax's, because I really did enjoy this story a good bit! Like Jax said, you captured all characters from both franchises wonderfully, what humor you DIDN'T force tended to work, and overall aside from the lack of real horror you did a great job splicing the spirits of both shows.

    (Also, the description of James as a "smaller girl" made me giggle incessantly. Oh James you flamboyant goofball. X3)

    But yeah, overall you've got a very solid spirit and base for this story; all it really needs aside from less visual gags is tone adjustments for more of Courage's brand of creepy and so less of your humor is too random or forc-

    -Cthulhu suddenly barges in wearing a Spanish Inquisition hat-

    Cthulhu: NO ONE EXPECTS THE RY'LEH INQUISITION! I heard this story needed more creepy?

    ...

    ...Goddammit.
    Last edited by Umbramatic; 5th May 2016 at 3:25 AM.


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  6. #6
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    Thank you both for making things clearer to me.

    Credit for picture: "Emma" (littlebuster-k2); Credit for signature: 9dragonsbreed
    So you should expect the truth from me. Only, you shouldn't expect it to be the truth you assumed.
    Oh yes, and you should read my story Happenings Between Goals.

    Also on the reading list: [Silence] (Quarterly Challenge), Rally Interpretation 2, Delibird's Tales (Yuletide One-shot), The Disingenuous Magearna, and Courage's Double Trouble.

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