BSV Forum - General - Recommendations

Nominating in the Best Character categories

Mar 08 2007 11:47 pm   #1slaymesoftly

 The second place where I think people run into problems when nomming fics is when they include all-human fics in the “Best Buffy Characterization” or “Best Spike Characterization” category.  Now here, I freely admit, I have some very strong prejudices that affect my thinking.  Buffy and Spike (and Giles, and Angel and Faith and…) are WHO they are, to a very large extent because of WHAT they are. I don’t see where it is possible to separate them from their very natures and still expect them to have the same dynamic.  Without the conflict provided by their backgrounds as Slayer and vampire, without the super powers that make them able to do and survive things that ordinary humans couldn’t,<I> without the experiences that have shaped their lives </I>– they cannot be Spike and Buffy.  Not the Spike and Buffy who will exist forever on DVDs and in fan fiction.

 I’ve said it before and no doubt will again - calling a character Buffy, giving her Sarah’s face and body, and throwing in a bunch of other characters with familiar names does NOT make for a BtVS story.  Even in those very few all-human fics that I’ve seen where the characters have somewhat similar personality traits and quirks to the characters we are used to, they still are not “our” Spike and Buffy. I don’t care how much the author dwells on Spike’s sharp cheekbones and sexy abs; without the life experiences that have made him Spike, he isn’t going to ring true to the character as we know him.

I’m not going in to the actual writing I see in so many all-human fics; I’m just dealing for the moment with how disadvantaged they are when nominated in a Best Buffy or Best Spike category.  It’s simple logic – if they aren’t WHAT they are (or have been – more about that later), then they are not going to be believable as WHO they are. In no way is a slutty teenaged babysitter going to be a good Buffy – even if she does use the expression “not mixey” at some point.  Nor is the married man she hooks up with going to be Spike (or William), no matter how blond his hair or how many “bloody hell”s he throws into his conversation.

 I’m not including in this category fics in which a vampire has shanshued, or a slayer has retired or lost her powers, or pre-turned William makes an appearance, or one like the excellent “Manifest Destiny” by Usige Beatha where Spike and Buffy are transported back in time and are normal humans.  They are still who they are because their history has not been taken from them, only their super powers. The personalities and the dynamic between the two remains the same, except for the changes brought about by their circumstances.  Those changes are logical and expected.  And they work, for that very reason.  Because their world has turned inside out and they must adapt to it. The story still takes place within the bounds of the Buffyverse, where magical things happen and evil may be found in unexpected places. Would it work (for me) if it were a simple historical romance with slender, blond characters whose names happened to be Spike and Buffy? No. It would not. Because giving them a different background, would make them different people.  Not necessarily less interesting people, or less worthy of our reading time, but different. Not the Spike and Buffy who have spent so much time on a Hellmouth.
So, the bottom line, it seems to me, is that nominating a regular human Spike or Buffy in a “Best Characterization” category is setting the fic up to fail, no matter how good it may be.

Having said that, I really don’t think that it has made much difference in how I view the characters in the stories I find at award sites.  I’ve seen too many OOC characters in fics that are set quite solidly in the Buffyverse, to automatically assume that the characters I see in those fics will be more realistic than the ones in the all-human fics.  If I have to read the fics because I am judging the category in which they are entered, they all start with a clean slate and the benefit of the doubt.  Unfortunately, my preconceived bias has rarely (never?) been proven wrong, and that brings me back to my original premise –that all-human fics should not be entered in Best Character categories.  All other things being equal, they are just not competing on a level field.

(See another thread for more discussion about all-human stories and why I don’t think that they belong in fan fiction.)

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Mar 09 2007 02:33 am   #2anaunthe

Well, I do agree with you that experiences make the person who he or she is - and someone without a similar past is unlikely to make a convincing Buffy or Spike. 

 But I think the Superpowers as part of that is taking things a little too far.  I think that is part of what makes each of these characters special - they don't let WHAT they are (Slayer, vampire) determine WHO they are.  To my way of thinking, Fics that miss that are just as far off as those that obsess about Spike's cheekbones or Buffy's hair.

Mar 09 2007 02:56 am   #3slaymesoftly

<i>- they don't let WHAT they are (Slayer, vampire) determine WHO they are. </i>  I'd have to think about that.  Much is made about Spike's going against his very nature to get his soul,  Buffy's role as the Chosen One and the way it limits her options - I didn't mean superpowers in the sense that being extra strong or fast makes them who they are (although, a Buffy without her strength, speed and agility might certainly be a less confident person) so much as I did that those powers are a natural part of their personalities and approach to the world.  Spike was forced to change his ways when he could no longer hunt and kill - stuff like that. Characters that have never had to deal with the situations brought on by what they are, are unlikely to have developed the same approach to the world. (How many 17-yr olds have to send their boyfriends to hell to save the world?)

You are quite right, however, that a fic that focuses only on their supernatural powers can miss the essence of their personalities just as widely as those that focus on their obvious physical attributes.

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.