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Home / Meta / Rants / Another Rant About Buffy Fanfic

At the end of my first rant I asked people to write to me if they had any comments or suggestions. A few people did and I've finally gotten off of my lazy butt to do something about it.

First up comes the lovely Kita, Angst Writer Extraordinare, to whom I give mad, crazy props for finally providing what I think is a legitimate reason for that @#$%ing "e" people keep adding to the end of "child". I'll quote her directly:

Agreed with everything about the buffy fic except I LIKE the world childe. Alot. Cause there is no counterpart to Sire without it, and something about seeing the following sentence: "he fucked his CHILD" squicks the shit out of me. which, considering the kind of fic I read and write, says a bit. 'cause I'm so not easily squicked.

Okay, this is more than fair. As I wrote back to Kita, as long as the author has a legitimate reason for the word - meaning that it's actually performing a function that no other word can - I can be okay with it. But that's got to be clear in the story. Far too often I see writers using "childe" in damn near every sentence and considering that, as of me writing this, we've had about 9 years worth of canon between Buffy and Angel and it hasn't come up once - to me that's sloppy work on the part of the fanfic author.

Which reminds me of a related rant - "Peaches". People, Spike used this word once and he was drunk. It's not a nickname! When Xander called Angel "deadboy" and Angel immediately responded with "Could you not call me that?" it was done in a tone of voice to imply that Xander had done it before - and often. It makes sense to assume that even though we only saw it once, it was still Xander's nickname of choice for the Master of all things Brooding.

We did not, however, get that with Spike. Angel doesn't give us a reaction to show that he's heard "Peaches" before and Spike, being the chatty boy that he is, sure as Hell would have used it again if he knew it got under Angel's skin. Now if you want to say that once your version of Spike and Angel meet up again Spike decides to start the "Peaches" habit now, you go right ahead, but as with any form of "child" watch your usage. If "Peaches" is showing up in every other sentence, you're way overusing it.

I now quote Keren, who had this to say on a related subject:

You also didn't mention the people who can't extrapolate, repeat lines, etc. My least favorite - the story where Xander calls Giles G-man about 60 times and Giles answers, every one of those times with "I told you not to call me that." I think he maybe said that once on TV. In season one or something. Boy, that's a load off my back.

On the same subject I could also quote Meredith, who has often been known to tear her hair out and scream "For God's sake, people, LET THE TINY MARSHMELLOWS GO!"

Basically, we've got two problems here. I'm going to take them in the order that Keren gives us.

Number one - extrapolate from the text. Take what canon gives you and draw some reasonable conclusions. Don't just regurgitate what we see on TV. Case in point - Wesley has fucked that "bleached blond" more times than I can count in fanfic. Now I'm all for Wes getting a piece but that was not the point of that scene. The point of that scene was A) To define the strength of Angel's senses and B) To subtly let us know that Wes hasn't exactly been a virgin while in LA.

Now of course it's up to you as to how many people he's been fucking, whether it was guys or girls, whether he cared about them, etc, but the point is you're drawing some conclusions here. You're not just repeating that Wes had sex with a bleached blond.

Ditto song choices. Caritas is the obvious weakness here. Yes, Angel likes Barry Manilow. Yes, that's hysterical. However he's over 200 years old - he's got other tastes. If you need to get him singing again don't just make it "Mandy" or even "Copacabana". Remember he dreamt about singing "Send in the Clowns" and "Tears of a Clown" and in reality also sang "Everybody Wang Chung Tonight". This lets us know that his taste in music can lend itself towards the cheesy, but it's not just Barry. Head over to Amazon.com, look up those songs and then take advantage of the "If you liked this, you'll also like..." suggestions. It's a great way to help fill in the blanks.

Number two - repeat lines. This comes up with fanfic authors who won't extrapolate from the text (again such as with Wes and the bleached blond, or the fanon that Spike is addicted to tiny marshmellows) and with authors who literally quote line by line dialogue from the show, but reorder it a bit to fit their story. Again it's like the nicknames - analyze the scene and figure out what's going on. The tiny marshmellows was a one-off joke. On the other hand it might be reasonable to assume that LA resident Cordy has the phrase "personal bubble" in her arsenal, especially since when she said it it sounded like she was trying to jog Angel's memory.

The Buffyverse characters don't tend to repeat themselves often if they can help it - part of the joy of both shows is the dialogue. Use the canon to get the feel of it, then make up new stuff.

More from Keren:

My own personal, and most recent pet peeve is Spike the weiner. He is all too often (and in many stories before Fool for Love ever came out) portrayed as someone who at the drop of a hat, renounces all evil doings for Buffy. He takes her to proms, he constructs home made proms, he buys her clothing, he cooks dinner, etc. etc. He doesn't even think about petty larceny, which as we've seen, even in love with Buffy, he has not give that up, among other things. Also, Spike is NOT A COMPUTER HACKER who has tons of cash stowed away in the bank. Why else would he be taking money from Buffy, etc. and be living in a crypt furnished with garbage? And in addition to mixed up vampires - HE DOESN'T DRAW! Keep Spike evil, I say, or at least neutral. I don't think he would ever count himself as a "good" guy. Whew. I feel better.

Now I'm not going to touch the redemptionista argument at the end b/c that's all a matter of interpretation and my opinion about good vs. evil Spike isn't the point (although given who I've often co-written with, you can probably guess my views). However the rest of that is good advice for anyone out there and also falls into the catagory of what I wrote about before, namely "Have you met the characters before?"

It's not a question of "Can you get there from here?". I think you can do anything in fanfiction if you take the right steps. But the point is you have to take those steps. Keren has her pet peeve of Spike the weiner, I have mine of Angel the sub. Angel is an alpha dog. He wants to be in charge. He is not going to roll over and submit at the drop of a hat. If your story has Spike randomly walking into the Hyperion and putting a collar on Angel, or Wesley out of the blue telling Angel to strip and get on his knees - pretty as those images are you have missed some crucial steps.

Yes, you can get there from here. Angel would definitely sub in the right circumstances - on the show we saw how he happily took a beta role to Buffy. However Buffy was the love of his life and the person who canonically redefined his very existance. And when push came to shove he still made the last call in that relationship by leaving town. He didn't truly and totally submit. Would he? Could he? Sure. But show the steps. Especially when you're pairing him up with guys like Spike and Wes who have canonically in the past taken beta roles to him. I'm not saying Spike and Wes wouldn't want to top Angel (especially Wes once he regrows his spine), I'm just saying it's extra hard to get Angel to agree to it with guys he was formerly in charge of. As opposed to, say, Lindsey where beyond the hand cutting it was never really established which one of them was top dog.

On the subject of knowing your characters, we have Verna, who writes:

I have only one other thing that bugs the heck out of me. Angel's real name is not Angelus and it's not his middle name either! It's Liam!

Again - know your characters. And let me add that it is spelled Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. There's no "i" in Wes's last name.

Now there's the subject of knowing your canon. Stef has this to say:

Finally (!) read your Buffy rant, but you forgot one thing. To, uh, paraphrase Tom Hanks, of all fucking people:

"There's no blood crying in the Jossverse!"

Why do people insist on Rice-ing it up? No blood tears, ever! Ever! Not nobody, not nohow! It's been canonically supported, yo! William the Bloody, Childe (heh) of Drusilla (and don't get me started on that), has been the weepiest one of the bunch and nary a trace of the O pos to be seen. It just ain't right. Pfoo.

Had to get that off my chest. I just read two or three stories in a row which mentioned it and the camel's back finally broke. Blood tears. Feh.

It also jars me when Willow exclaims "oh my goddess". Or Spike says "oh gods". Willow there may be a quibble with, but Spike is definitely a product of Victorian mores and ethics (well, you know what I mean) and there would be no pantheistic leanings from that quarter.

Judges will allow that canon gets a little weird with things like breathing (My favorite example of this is in "Lullabye" when a heavily-panting Darla snarls at Wesley "I-pant-don't-pant-BREATHE!"). Angel doesn't have breath to perform CPR, yet both he, Spike and Harmony can easily suck back a cigarette and make smoke rings if they wanted. (And, you know, talk.) What's the mechanics behind this? Who knows. Personally I think you're fine as long as you remember they don't need to breathe in order to live and draw your own conclusions from there.

But the blood tears are definitely a no-go, as is blood sweat (we've seen Angel and Darla both get sweaty - get your mind out of the gutter, you know what I mean! - and it's the regular kind, no blood) and - ew - blood piss. We don't even know if Buffyverse vamps pee, but don't accept it as canon that if they did it would have blood in it. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. That's your call. (Ditto their semen).

And allow me to be your morning DJ of radio station WORD to the "goddess" thing. Sadly this is something I'm told has come up in pseudo-canon (meaning the tie-in novels and comic books) but again the show is always your ultimate canon guide. Willow does not say "goddess" as an exclamation. Tara, a legitimate Wiccan, might, but not Willow. Likewise neither would Angel. Fallen as he may be, Angel is still definitely a Roman Catholic. Sighing or exclaiming "gods" is not his thing. Again - know your characters.

And I think that covers it for this round. As before, if you have any comments/suggestions, pass them on! My ears are open.

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