How I MiST

mst3kMany people have asked me exactly how I complete a MiST. It’s such a long and complicated process that creates a single MiST that some people would never think of MiSTing themselves because they don’t know where to start. So here is the breakdown of exactly how I do my MiSTs. Keep in mind that this is just one example of how MiSTing is done and it can be accomplished in many different ways. This is what I have learned through my experience as a MiSTer.

Okay, so I’m lying. No one has ever asked me how I MiST and the days that my MiSTs are posted, I tend to get the fewest blog hits. But I’m going to tell everyone anyway. MiSTing was so popular back in the early 2000 in the FF.N era. Maybe we can bring it back a bit. Then maybe I won’t feel like I’m the only one doing it.

Getting started

Finding a story to MiST – I briefly went over how I find MiSTing fodder in my guide to MiSTing. But here’s some more details. There’s no real method that I use for deciding what to MiST next. I usually just go into my fodder folder and start poking around. If I can’t find anything that piques my interest, I get onto one of the MiSTing fodder sites I use and start there. I usually have a lot of parts of a MiST that I need to work on, so I try to space them out.

If nothing looks good in my MiSTing fodder folder, I start searching on the sites for something new. FanFiction.Net is great to search on because I can search by wordcount and lots of other critera so I can find what I want rather easily. Also, there’s a summary for the fic, so if the summary is poorly written, I know that the story probably is too. Pretty much everything on Quibblo is terrible and I still haven’t figured out a way to get around the new restrictions in the Quotev site that prevents you from copying and pasting.

Once I pick out what I want to MiST. I add my header and start working.

Creating a cast of characters – I’ve been using the same MiSTing team for over 100 MiSTs now, so I’m pretty comfortable with them. In the FF.N days I tried to add in guest MiSTers who requested to work with me and usually things didn’t go very well. Other MiSTers usually don’t have the same style that I have.

The best guest MiSTs I’ve always done have been with Sharyna and her team. Since she has a 6 person MiSTing crew and I have a 7 person crew, we usually decide who is going to MiST, then go from there. A lot of people believe that any crew over 4 or 5 is too many, but I’m quite comfortable working with the 7 MiSTers that I have. It’s just that adding more people on top of the entire crew turns out to be way too much to handle.

Creating a header – Headers are traditionally disclaimers, an intro to the MiST, and/or a MiSTer’s roll call. I do my summaries at the top so I don’t have to put the entire MiST on one page. They’re way too long to sort through. Then the links to my MiSTing guide, then my disclaimer, then the MiSTer’s role call. My header has changed quite significantly over the past few years. When I was MiSTing lemons, I had a disclaimer that included that the material following was sexual in nature and “really, really nasty”.

But the basic parts of a disclaimer is stating that you don’t know the work being MiSTed, but you do own the MiST and your original characters, if you’re using original characters. I also put something in about the MiST not being a personal attack on the author as many people don’t know that MST3K is and don’t understand how a MiST functions. But a MiST is a humorous send up of bad writing. It’s not personal.

Diving in

Creating the host segments – Some of my host segments are figured out way in advance and outlined extensively. Other times I just write as I go. Sometimes the host segments lead into one another, other times they’re purely episodic. Host segments should be fun, lighthearted and not too long. I’ve read some MiSTers where the host segments were so long, I thought I was reading a novel. I prefer to keep mine short and to the point.

Starting the MiST – There are a few things to consider before starting the actual MiST. First, you have to consider any situations that you set up during the host segment. If one of your characters is pissed off, then they will be pissed off throughout the MiST. One of your characters might be obsessed with a new video game, so they occasionally mention the game they want to go play or ask if the MiST can stop so that they can do play it.

Also, keep your character’s in mind as you decide what to say. You should have MiSTers with different voices. So that if something intelligent is needed to be said, then an intelligent character can say it. If something crass is needed to be said, then one of the more casual characters can say that. Here is the breakdown of what I generally have my MiSTers say:

Tempest: Anything sexual or off the wall.

Dominick: He’s the first to make a fart joke. Also one to use dark humor and swear.

Melanie: Similar to Dominick, but slightly more violent.

Kalinda: She’s usually the voice of normality with a background in pop culture.

Gwen: She makes highly intelligent comments and also talks about social justice and legal matters.

Deangelo: Like Gwen, he is also highly intelligent, but uses a lot more dark humor. He tends to be the darkest of all of the MiSTers.

Jarred: He tries to make the best of the MiSTs and is the first to say something naive. He has evolved a little in the last few MiSTs and is picking up on some of his fellow MiSTer’s sarcasm.

A good MiST has a variety of comments being made. Any MiST where all of the characters are interchangeable and they’re all in one subject vein, is bound to be boring and/or repetitive.

As for formatting the MiST, I add the carrots and spaces in while I go. I find this works very efficiently and I can break up the lines however I want. Most bad fanfictions are in gigantic paragraphs without correct dialogue spacing, so being able to break the lines up into smaller chucks helps make it more readable as well as letting me insert the riffs whenever I want.

Riffs are the jokes. When you are writing a MiST, the first objective is to be funny. I’ve read some MiSTs that are basically all complaints about grammar. That’s not funny. I’ve read MiSTs that rehash what the section just said and state that it’s ridiculous. That’s not funny. You have to have a variety of riffs and use them well throughout the writing.

Sometimes you need to comment on grammar mistakes or typos. Sometimes they create the kind of unintentional hilarity that these fics are famous for. Sometimes a character needs to go over what just happened in the story to make sure that everyone is following all of the confusing twists and poor writing. Other times, the MiSTers can make up their own lines for the story. They can speak in the original story’s character’s voices. They can bring up things that have happened in their own lives or relate it what happened in the host segment.

Finding a balance between all of these riffs can be difficult. This is why the next part is so freaking important.

Finishing up

Editing – I edit my MiSTs about 4 times all the way through before I post them. Being that the MiSTs are so long and there’s so much going on, I find that even 4 times won’t get all of the typos, but I do the best I can. I always make sure that I read the entire MiST in one sitting to make sure that there isn’t too much repetition and everything flows correctly. Part of MiSTing is keeping up with the storyline, so MiSTers can’t mention a character that hasn’t been introduced yet and so forth.

Every so often I read through old MiSTs and do some more copyediting, updating as I go. Sometimes it’s good to take a break and go back to a MiST a few days later. You might be able to think of different riffs and be able to concentrate on copy editing the story better.

Posting – Once your MiST is ready, you have to decide where to post it. There aren’t a lot of active MiSTing sites out there to host the MiSTs. I host the MiSTs on my personal site and no one reads them. But that’s okay. I like them.

When posting it’s important to incorporate all of the uses of whatever site you’re using. On WordPress I have share buttons, categories, tags, and the ability to publicize. So far, no one has found one of my MiSTs that was actually looking for a MiST, but I remain ever hopeful.

However, the members of the Clock Crew did find the Yu-Gi-Oh Christmas MiST that I did of one of their fanfics. They were good sports about it. But when you’re on the Clock Crew, I would imagine that you would need to be. Anyway, with RiffTrax being a roaring success, I can only hope that the geek community will once again embrace MiSTing and I won’t feel so alone in the artform.

Enjoying the fame and recognition – If I ever get to this step, I will let you know.

Until next time, keep on MiSTing!