BSV Forum - General - Recommendations

All Human stories

Mar 09 2007 12:12 am   #1slaymesoftly

Here is my last (and probably most irritating) entry for tonight.

Because the *cough, rant, cough* discussion of my feelings about all-human fics was getting waaaaay too long, I’m making it a separate thread which can be read as an addendum to the one about entering fics in the appropriate categories for judging.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I normally avoid all-human fics like the plague, so my opinion is based on those that I’ve read over the years or those that I have started and most emphatically NOT read when they couldn’t hold my interest. Interestingly enough, I rarely see anything but the most superficial likeness between the characters we know and the all-human characters called Spike and Buffy. Even in the most well written all human fics.  I might have seen a convincing Xander here and there – which makes sense, as Xander is a normal human – or a convincing Giles (although I don’t remember one) – also human; but not Spike, not Buffy, not Angel, not even Willow.  The “hero” or main male character may be called William or Spike, he may have bleached blond hair and a hot body, he may have a dry, snarky wit (actually, not often visible) and be sex on a stick – but the things that really make Spike, Spike and not any random romance novel hero, are not there.  Usually.  Once in a very great while, there is enough there to ring almost true for Spike– given the background provided by the author.  But Buffy?  I don’t think I have ever seen a realistic non-slayer Buffy.  I remember one that was close, in that the heroine was a very resourceful and determined woman, but that’s about it.  For some reason, all human Buffy seems to turn into a wimpy, whiney damsel in distress more often than not. Considering that pre-chosen Buffy was a very popular girl, well on her way to Prom Queen like status; it seems very unlikely that she would turn into a nerdy, mousy girl totally lacking in self-confidence and pride.

Again, I haven’t read a ton of all-human fics, so I may be totally missing an author who presents the characters perfectly in an all-human setting.  Nautibitz has probably done it as well as anyone I’ve seen; but even with my having enjoyed the beginning of the AH fic I was reading, I eventually lost interest in the so NOT Buffy and Spike characters.  Good story, great relationship build up, some strong resemblances personality-wise, but ultimately, still not Spike and Buffy. (Let me say right now, that she did an excellent job in the fic I’m thinking about – which is probably finished by now – and anyone who likes AH fics should go find and read it.  I think the title was “Crashed” or something like that.)

Which is probably a good time to say  – let me hasten to mention – that I am not by any means saying that I haven’t seen a lot of all-human fics with decent, rich characterizations, good plot arcs and entertaining dialogue.  I have. I actually have a great deal of admiration for those authors who write good all-human stories, because what they are actually doing is writing original fiction.  Some of the best ones I have read, while having characters bearing no resemblance whatsoever to Buffy the Vampire Slayer or William the Bloody, have been very well-plotted, well written stories about very interesting characters.  In other words, the author has written a short story (or long one) that owes nothing to Joss Whedon except for the characters’ names and a physical resemblance to the actors who played Spike and Buffy.  Most of these stories could very easily, with a change in the names and hair-color of the main characters, be offered as original fiction to magazines or publishing houses.  Something it would never occur to me to attempt. So, I have nothing but admiration for those writers who do this well – I just wish they wouldn’t say they are writing about Buffy and Spike…

I began this discussion by talking about the appropriateness of nominating all-human characters in the Best Spike or Best Buffy categories, so let me go back to that thought.

Buffy has some very real and hard-wired personality traits that make her recognizable as who she is – courage, wit, insecurity about men, loyalty, great ability to love, her quick temper, her stubbornness, her sense of responsibility….I could go on, but the point here is that unless the author has presented a Buffy with more of a resemblance than green eyes, blond hair and a petite frame, she has not given us Buffy Summers, and calling her main character by that name isn’t going to change that.

Ditto for Spike.  He is a wonderful mix of insecurity and cockiness, gentleness and violence, Big Bad and protector, villain and hero, caring lover and rough sexual partner.  He can be scary and funny, sexy and sweet, childish and the voice of reason…He can be and is all of those things. It’s one of the reasons we find him so fascinating  (Well, that and James’ body…)  Stories that give us only one aspect of Spike – whether it is the physical description (most often) or only one or two of his character traits – are not giving us a good Spike, and they don’t belong in a “Best Spike” category.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me also say that I am not a big follower of romance short stories or novels; I don't know that I have intentionally read one since I was in my early teeens.  So the fact that any all-human Spike/Buffy fic is almost inevitably a romance story, undoubtedly affects my reaction to it.  However, back in the day, before I learned the ins and outs of fanfic jargon and understood that AU or Fantasy didn’t mean what I thought it did, I read – or started reading – a fair number of all human fics; and some of them were well-written stories with characters that sucked me in enough that I wanted to follow the story to its happy ending. 

So, I have read and even enjoyed a fair number of all human fics through the years; but at no time was I ever under the illusion that I was reading about Buffy Summers, Chosen One and/or Wlilliam the Bloody. Or Liam O’Connor or Dawn Summers or Rupert Giles for that matter. Giving a character in a story the name of a Buffyverse character and a superficial physical resemblance to him or her just does not mean that you are now writing that character.  You are writing a character, who happens to have the same name as a character from a popular TV show .  Period.  And, for every one of them that I read, enjoyed and followed all the way to the end, there were dozens that I bailed on either immediately (if they were poorly-written) or later on when the trials and tribulations of these non-Buffyverse characters began to bore me.

Let the stoning begin.....

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Mar 09 2007 02:14 am   #2anaunthe

Well, I certainly wasn't going to start this thread on this forum, because the divide seems pretty wide between those who like AH fic and those who don't.  I agree that the characterization can be a problem - esp. in those ever popular high school fics where the characters hardly have any personalites, let alone appropriate ones.

That being said, I am going to shamelessly plug a fic I've been posting, called Girl with Stars.  The premise (AH) was to make the actual story line (and the characters) as close to the BtVS story as I could make it using an everyday all human setting.  For example, Spike's past intersects with three young girls who all wound up dead - one in China, one in Romania and one in NYC.  If I tried to post it as something other than a B/S fic, I think alot would be lost in translation, but I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

The question is, what exactly happened in Spike's past, and even more pertinent - who is Spike in the here and now?  Is he a good man, as Buffy sometimes thinks, or are her friends and co-workers right, and he is a con man and a killer?  It's actually closer to a mystery story than a romance, cause there's lots of miscommunication and suspicion, and very little of that "missed the bed again" going on.

I promise, you'll either love it or you'll hate it - and you'll know before you get too far into it, which is good, since it spans all 7 seasons (some in flashback or inference) and is getting really long.  Read a scene or two and tell if you think I've hit the mark.

Cas/ Anaunthe




Mar 09 2007 03:05 am   #3slaymesoftly

It sounds very intriguing, Cas, but you didn't say where we could find it. Not here, obviously. Is it on Spuffy Realm?

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Mar 09 2007 07:11 pm   #4

Slaynesoftly you can find Cas fic at Spuffy Realm here's the link

Mar 09 2007 11:27 pm   #5slaymesoftly

Thanks, Spikes mrs.! I found it.

Cas, I left you a review on SR.  You can e mail me if you want to talk - I'll be home for another couple of hours, then I'm going out for the evening.  Not going to be home much this weekend until sometime Sunday, but you can find me somewhere.

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Mar 10 2007 12:44 am   #6Eowyn315

I pretty much agree with you on the all-human thing. I've never even tried to write one. I do read them sometimes, and often like them, but I definitely think of them more as original stories that just happen to have characters with the same names as the characters on my favorite TV show. Occasionally, I'll find an author who does something creative with a relationship (Nautibitz's Crash and Burn had an intriguing set-up where Angel was Buffy's step-brother who she had secretly dated) but for the most part, I don't even associate them with the characters from the show.

I used to avoid all-human fics like the plague, for pretty much the reason you mentioned - if they don't have all the things that make them Spike and Buffy, they're NOT Spike and Buffy just because you name them that. I also kind of thought - this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, why would I want to read about characters that weren't vampires or slayers?

I ended up reading my first all-human fic because I ran out of stories from a particular author that I liked. I wanted to read more, and the all-humans were all that were left. They can be great stories - like you said, possibly even more admirable because everything's original - but they're just not Spike and Buffy... 

I've often wondered why people hold on to the names and physical descriptions instead of writing original fiction. For those of you here who write all-human fics, I'd be curious to know. Is it that you think more people will read it because it's BtVS characters? Is it because you're uncomfortable creating characters from scratch? (I know I am, which is a big reason why I like fanfic.) Or something else entirely...?

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Mar 10 2007 01:34 am   #7Guest
I want to quoute Eowyn315's entire post because I completely agree. If I am drawn enough to an AH fic to read more than just the prologue or the first chapter, which rarely happens, I view them as original fic not BtVS. I especially detest AH high-school fics. I've never found any redeeming qualities in them, they all seem so cliched. Rose
Mar 10 2007 02:02 am   #8Scarlet Ibis

Eowyn and Rose- I must say first and foremost that writing and reading fan fic has improved my real fic.  I enjoy reading well written fics, be it Fantasy or true to the Buffyverse.  Actually, I don't know if you heard of it, but there's an extreme AUfic called "Beneath the Shadows of Evil," where Spike is still a vamp, and Buffy a Gypsy.  The time period is the 1700s I think.  It's working for me.

  I started an AH because, well, I read a few that I didn't like (though there were plenty that I did), and wanted to try my hand at it.  I don't have hundreds of reviews, but people seem to like it.

I think I nailed the Spike characterization, but I may have missed the mark on Buffy- I'm not sure.  However, the pairings aren't true to that of the show.  Spuffy, sure, but I made Spike a single parent with a little girl named Dawn, and so forth... Is there anyone interested in letting me know which characterizations I succeeded in and which ones I didn't?

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."
Mar 10 2007 03:45 am   #9Guest

Scarlet, you didn't mention the title of your fic, but I knew your writing, so I looked you up on SR and found it - called Here and Now if anyone else is looking for it.  I'm gonna go start reading,  Thanks.


Mar 10 2007 07:05 am   #10Scarlet Ibis

Thanks Cas   Please let me know what you think.

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."
Mar 10 2007 09:50 am   #11Guest

I haven't branched into all human, yet, but I am working on my first outside-of-canon-world fic, where Buffy's not a Slayer. LOL, though "off canon" for me still means Spike's a vampire, and Dawn's the Key, and Anya's a Vengeance Demon, and Wes and Giles were both Watchers.....guess you could say different universe, but same possible events.

I've read several human fics that still make me click with the characters, though. It's not hard to maintain the core spirit of a character if you know them. Sure, there are plenty of superficial AH stories that are obviously written by teens, and yeah, the personalities are only superficially Buffy and Spike, or anyone else, but there are definitely plenty that have Spike and Buffy with their same hang-ups that just came from different or realistic circumstances. The setting isn't nearly so important as the *voices* of the characters. If you have that, it hardly matters what you put them in.

Bittenandstaked has done some of the best for years. Unfortunately, most of her past AH fics have been changed into original fic now as she tries her hand at being a professional writer.