Writing fanfic that’s as good as canon is still a bar most fans can’t hope to reach. But the PPC doesn’t look for fic to mock near the bar. It looks past the bar beneath that bar, and the bar under that, and finally peels back the mat underneath the lowest bar and boggles at the grime found underneath. The stories by supposed fans who seem to have forgotten that the high bar even exists. A slightly modified quote by Araeph. (The original can be found here)
I think this quote in not just funny, but also enlightening, because it highlights the fact that it is actually very hard for a fanfiction writer to get his or her fic sporked by the PPC. Not just because of statistics – we don’t know how many agents there are, but we know that they are not nearly enough to stem the flow of badfic – but because most badfics are simply not bad enough. When I looked for a badfic for my Dragon Age mission, I waded through a river of mediocrefics to find a few I would even consider sporking. The fic I finally picked out was literally the worst out of hundreds. My point being, that members of the PPC do not stride through the Pit, taking cheap shots at anyone who makes even the slightest error, in the same way a school bully may walk through the school, yelling insults at every kid with glasses. No, because sporking is hard work. You have to read the fic and takes notes. Re-read it and actually write the mission. Then you have to edit your mission so you only have the best jokes and worst offences in it. Then there’s proofreading. Badficcers may not proofread, but mission writers certainly have to, and you have to do your own proofreading, before you can even consider sending it off to be betaed. It is funny, yes, but it also takes a lot of time and effort, so I very much doubt that anyone does it, unless they really feel that the fic deserves it.
We all have out own preferences, but what do I look for in a fic to find it sporkable?
Length, first and foremost. It lets my agents get caught up in the fic and it makes them exhausted, and depressed. Yes, I am cruel.
But a long fic also shows a certain degree of stubbornness and disdain for canon. This is not a plot bunny, by someone who lost interest after two chapters; this is a real fanfiction, with little to no regard for the ‘fan’ part of the word. Besides, the longer a badfic is, the more likely that it will go from merely bad to toe-curlingly horrible. Also, in the end, I write long missions for the sole reason that I like to do so, not because I think they are in any way better that short ones.
Bad SpaG. Yes, I know that I have English as my second language and it shows. I also know that I can’t even set correct commas in my own language. But still, I look for crimes against the English language, when I consider a fic for sporking. I’ll be honest and say that part of the reason is, that it is a clear marker. It can sometimes be hard to tell from the summary, if a fic will be bad or not. After all, something might start out with a reasonable premise and then go totally insane. But if there are grammatical errors in the summary, chances are that they will also be in the fic, and then maybe there are also other things wrong with it. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Another reason is that, it makes for visual jokes. Sure, a fic can be totally free of bad SpaG and still be horrible, but linguistic errors have interesting effects on the Word World, which can be exploited. Also, minis!
Really, really huge breaks in canon. Preferably canon breaks that serves no purpose to the plot, but which the fic simply makes because it can. And if all of the canon breaks are things that would have been really easy to look up and get right, then it is even better. After all, we are not here to be cruel to fanfic-writers, we are here to stop fanfics from being cruel to the canon.