A pale, pink-haired young woman wearing a pair of freshly pressed black slacks and a green cashmere sweater lounged comfortably on an armchair in the center of a large room. On her right, a tall, lanky man in standard jonin gear sat slouched in his seat—three-fourths of his face was covered with a mask and given the state of his hair, it was quite possible that it had never been brushed. Ever.
Several cameras were stationed at different parts of the room, each capturing a different angle of the two shinobi sitting at the center. A thick stack of papers could be seen resting on the large coffee table in front of the chairs.
The woman smiled brightly as she looked up into the camera. "Good morning and welcome to the Haruno Fan Fiction Review Show, broadcast live at Konoha Station. I'm Sakura Haruno, and this is my co-host, Konoha's number one resident bookworm and literature aficionado, Kakashi Hatake!"
Kakashi grunted upon hearing the sound of his name but didn't look up from the book he had his face firmly planted in.
"Here on the Haruno Show, we're here to help guide you on the wondrous journey of learning to become a better fan fiction writer," Sakura continued. "I'm sure you're all wondering the same thing: What makes a story good? What enthralls readers; what is it about certain stories that cause someone to become so engrossed within a fictional world that they're unable to stop turning the pages? How many times have you started reading a story, only to think to yourself, 'This seems okay, but I really just can't get into it'? I'm sure Kakashi here has had the same problems. Isn't that right?"
"Unfortunately, we can't tell you how to write. There's no set formula to use to guarantee success, and just because you know what makes a story good doesn't mean you'll be able to easily do it yourself. What we can tell you, though, is how not to write," Sakura loudly cleared her throat and looked towards her co-host. "So, Kakashi, I bet you're wondering what this stack of papers is."
"Before you can worry about making your story good, you have to first know how to recognize what makes a story bad. So without further ado..." Sakura reached towards the hefty pile of manuscripts sitting on the coffee table and picked up the two top documents.
"In front of us is a stack of fan fiction transcripts, each one littered with errors that would send them flying off of a publisher's desk and straight into the garbage faster than you could say 'Shannaro!'" Sakura chuckled to herself and moved to hand one of the documents to Kakashi.
He didn't seem to notice.
"Kakashi, in order for this to work, you're going to have to put the book down," Sakura said, pointedly waving the transcript in her hand.
"Oh, right. Sorry." Sighing, he reluctantly closed his book and grabbed the paper.
"Today's lesson will focus on dialogue. Let's begin with the first transcript. Kakashi and I will take turns narrating."
Fanfiction Manuscript #1
Kakashi had just left the cenograph after talking to Obito and was on his way back to his apartment when he heard the sound of someone crying. He looked to his right and was greeted with the sight of one of his ex-students sitting curled up by a tree.
"Sakura? Is that you?" Kakashi called out.
Sakura looked up, startled. She hastily wiped her eyes and prayed that her sensei wouldn't notice the tear streaks covering her face. "oh hi sensei. what are you doing here"
"Are you crying?"
"n-no. im ok" she said.
"Okay, if you say so-"
Sakura immediately burst into tears. "god im so useless. why are you even bothering to talk to me. i never do anything to help. im always being saved and if i died nobody would care. sasuke was right, im useless and annoying. id stay at home and make sandwiches for everyone but i cant even cook"
Kakashi just stared at her, at a loss for words. He didn't have any experience comforting a crying female. What was he supposed to do?
Sakura sniffled. "im sorry"
"for not using proper punctuation. im guessing its pretty hard to figure out how my lines are supposed to sound when i refuse to capitalize or use commas"
Kakashi shrugged. "Eh, I've been reading all of your lines in a monotone voice anyway."
Sakura glared. "take this seriously or im not letting you read the dialogue anymore"
"Oh no, how terrible. Whatever will I do?"
"Well, then!" Sakura stood and dramatically pointed an index finger towards him. "I hope you like Kermit the Frog, because that's how I'm reading your dialogue for the rest of the show now!"
He raised an eyebrow. "I suppose it's only fitting that I read your dialogue in Miss Piggy's voice then," Kakashi paused for a moment and in a high-pitched girlish squeal, he said, "Oh, Sasuke, you beautiful hunk of a man! Please make love to me!"
"S-Stop it! That's not funny! Kakashi, I'll kill you-"
Fanfiction Manuscript #2
"In this story, you and I are partners on an exciting undercover seduction mission," said Sakura.
"Both of us?" said Kakashi.
"Yes, that's what I said, wasn't it?" said Sakura.
"It just seems a bit strange. I mean, two different seductions on one mission-" said Kakashi.
"Just shut up already," said Sakura.
"If you insist. It's not like I'm the team captain or anything," said Kakashi.
"These speech tags are getting really annoying," said Sakura.
"You noticed too? Don't forget the complete lack of descriptive prose," said Kakashi.
"Okay, next section," said Sakura.
Fanfiction Manuscript #3
After exiting the Hokage's office, Kakashi spotted Sakura several yards away.
Running up to her, he gave her a one-handed wave. "Yo, yo. What's up, homes? Like, are you ready to go on that one steamy mission?"
Sakura blinked. "I do not know what you are saying. What is this mission you speak of?"
"You for real? Like, the one that really hot blonde assigned us, like, a few minutes ago, or something..."
"Of course," Sakura said. "I cannot believe that it slipped my mind. How preposterously embarrassing. Please forgive me for my horrendous lack of decorum."
"Mathematical!" Kakashi pumped a fist in the air. "Wait, what does that even mean?"
Sakura shrugged. "I don't know, but this story feels like it's missing something... Aha! Here," She pulled a bright red baseball cap out of thin air and placed it backwards on Kakashi's head. "Now this dialogue is a little more believable."
Fanfiction Manuscript #4
"I can't believe it took us three whole days to get to Ame."
"Yes, well, that's what happens when a certain someone insists on stopping at every hotsprings along the way."
"Oh, whatever. I didn't see you complaining at the time."
"Actually, I'm pretty sure I-"
"Just drop it already, okay! We're here now, and we've got to get the ball rolling on this stupid seduction mission."
"Right, right. Who was doing the seducing again?"
"Oh, right. Of course I am."
"Wait... Are you sure?"
"Unless your voice dropped several octaves in the last couple of seconds, yeah, I'm sure."
"Man, this is confusing. Even though I know the speaker switches with every line, I keep losing track of who's talking. I keep having to go back to the beginning to count..."
"Honestly, Sakura. If you had just agreed to read out loud in the voices of Miss Piggy and Kermit, we wouldn't be having this problem."
"Fine. You win. Kermit away."
Fanfiction Manuscript #5
"Sakura, stop. You can't seduce him," Kakashi implored earnestly.
"Why not?" Sakura inquired wonderingly.
"Because I love you!" Kakashi ejaculated emphatically.
"What?!" Sakura gasped loudly. "But Kakashi! You're my teacher. That's wrong!"
"But that's what makes it so hot, Sakura!" Kakashi insisted fervently.
"I'm sorry, I can't," Sakura admitted tentatively. "You see, I..."
"What, what is it? Why do you keep resisting my advances?" Kakashi drilled angrily.
"I haven't even seen your face!" Sakura dramatically cried out.
"So? What are you, shallow?" Kakashi retorted crossly.
"Kakashi, how could you say something like that to me?" Sakura sobbed theatrically and ran away from him.
"Wait, where are you going? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!" Kakashi screamed furiously after her.
Sakura stopped running and flinched as his scream echoed throughout the room. "Wow, good going, Kakashi. In the last sentence you just a.) went all caps, b.) used an exclamation point, c.) screamed and d.) finished the line with a redundant adverb. Okay, I get it, you're angry. I don't need that many hints to figure it out. If the dialogue is well-written, the tone should be obvious enough without needing that many reminders," she sighed. "Really, it's okay to use the verb said. People frequently read the dialogue aloud in their heads as they imagine the conversation and after identifying the speaker, they skip right over the 'he said, she said' portions. Going out of your way to use a different verb to denote dialogue for every single line just draws attention to what you're doing and disrupts the flow of the story."
Kakashi nodded in agreement. "And if you really want to avoid using 'said', it's much better to punctuate your dialogue with descriptions or actions that further the story and give the reader a visual of what's going on."
"Exactly, Kakashi. While we're at it, I'm getting a little bored of dialogue. Let's wrap up with something new."
Fanfiction Manuscript #6
It was love at first sight
I know from the way she looked at me
Her eyes said it all
It was a stormy night, and Kakashi was walking alone through the streets of Konoha. The faded orange jacket of Icha Icha was drenched and heavy with water, its position in his back-pocket leaving it unprotected against the heavy down pouring of rain.
Long days and nights, we spent
Until she dropped the bomb on me
When she said that she was unhappily married with children
Kakashi paused, scratching his head. "Wait, I'm confused. Am I supposed to be reading the italicized part in Kermit's voice too?"
Sakura scowled. "No, you're supposed to be singing it to the proper tune."
"But I don't know this song."
"Then look it up!"
"This is stupid."
"Whatever, Kakashi. You just don't understand the subtle intricacies and emotional depth that song lyrics can add to a story," Sakura huffed.
"But these lyrics have nothing to do with anything. I'm just walking around in the rain. I'm probably going to catch a cold, too. And—did you read that? Icha Icha's been ruined! I would never—"
"How do you know it has nothing to do with the story?" Sakura rolled her eyes. "Maybe you should look up a little something called foreshadowing."
"And maybe the author should look up a little something called 'learning to write your own goddamned poetry.'"
Sakura sighed. "Ahem. Well, it's about time to wrap up for today. Thank you for joining us and we'll see you again next week on the Haruno Fan Fiction Review Show. Sakura Haruno and Kakashi Hatake, signing out!"