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22 September 2003 @ 01:28 pm
People have been writing & sending me links to smut. I had smut for lunch! I am a happy girl. I have two and a half hours of meetings coming up, which along with the excavaction of my inbox pretty much takes care of my first day back. I'm delaying re-entry into the rut groove.

It occurred to me while I was picking up a sandwich earlier that the s/x story idea I had would actually fit into Sidelines. So that's cool, I guess, though I'd been fiddling with the possibility of a single, less structured story. Also...well, this is broadly "spoilery" for thoughts I've been having about Sidelines & Noir so I'll put behind cut tags in case people want to skip.

The story idea I've been talking about deals with how Spike could get a soul--in a way rather different than he did in canon--and since I'd been thinking of doing that for Sidelines, it'd work well there. But I've also been thinking on and off again for a long time now about how Spike is presented in Noir, and what I want to do with him. In the very first story I opened and then closed the door on the possibility of a soul for him, and since then I've been playing with an unsouled but weirdly chivalric Spike. How far do I want to take that? How far can I take that without begging for ever increasing suspensions of disbelief from readers? I assume most readers of Noir are of a redemptionista leaning, which is ironic in that Spike is still "evil" by canon terms. Some people said, way back when I first posted, that they liked the decision to leave Spike unsouled. But can he stay that way and still function in a long-term way? He does in Barb's "Necessary Evils" (I hope *that's* not a major spoiler for anyone) but I'm not sure I want to go that route.

I've been trying out different game plans as I write Noir story notes to myself, thinking about what I could do with him. It's unresolved. And then, what if I had soul arcs in both series? I don't think I want that. But how do you get redemption and change without a soul? I used to snap and bite about the idea that a soul is the *only* avenue to redemption. But I think I've gotten more resigned to it, in most contexts. Part of my story "bunny" in the last 24 hours got me thinking new thoughts about how free will functions into that equation, and about possible metaphysical explanations for vampires. It's kind of neat, where my thoughts lead me. But...well, anyway. I have to run to a meeting now.

I'm not asking for ideas, by the way. Just wibbling aloud.
Brassy Hagmiggy on September 22nd, 2003 01:59 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, I'm still a no-soul redemptionista and find stories like that infinitely more interesting. All S6 convinced me of was that creatures with souls do things equal to or worse than those without, and over extended periods of time, but they get everything excused for them because the writers need to get right back to making a tidy loving group with the originally chosen elect. I have little interest in such tales.

That whole disgusting and (to my eyes unproven) Calvinist thesis that they insisted we believe has rang increasingly untrue and abrasively louder over the past two seasons. I'm always glad to find fics that explore the potential of the story they were actually showing rather than the hidden one the writers clucked at us for not adhering to like good little minions.
rusty_halo on September 23rd, 2003 09:30 am (UTC)
I love you, miggy. We last few no-soul redemptionists need to stick together. ;)
Brassy Hagmiggy on September 23rd, 2003 10:05 am (UTC)
Went a little over the top in your journal, Anna. Don't want people who stumble in to feel uncomfortable. I deleted it and moved it to Laura's journal, where people know what they're in for. ;)
Anna S.eliade on September 23rd, 2003 10:50 am (UTC)
You didn't have to remove it; it was fine. ;>) Not sure which Laura you mean.
Brassy Hagmiggy on September 23rd, 2003 10:59 am (UTC)

Normally I wouldn't be so fluttery about it (I didn't call for any grinding of bones to make my bread, so it's not like I was completely over the top), but it didn't feel quite right to have it toward the top of a page that centered around a B/S story. No need to make already tired and embattled shippers feel all the more attacked, even if I'm all militant about it on the other side.

But thanks. :)
Anna S.eliade on September 23rd, 2003 11:11 am (UTC)
I wonder if I reply to this, will miggy get the comment mailed to her also? Hmm.

Anyway. I think the strength of my objections about the soul ex machina thing depends on my mood, because I've always considered myeslf a no-soul redemptionista. But I think I'm coming to a point where I'm more comfortable about using the soul in fiction as it's used in canon--however, my critical deal-breaking condition is that Spike has to *choose* to be saddled with it. What's fascinating to me about him is how contrary he is, how willing he is to flout his own supposed nature, for all these complex and obscure reasons that we could attribute to so many things.

Another tack to take, if you want to ignore the soul issue, is to consider that possibility that vampires are far more diverse than we've seen on the show--maybe the Hellmouth attracks losers, because it's essentially the vampire version of some vicious, notorious port city--Bangkok, Calcutta, Naples. Whereas all the vampires who pass for human and live in modest apartments and drink pig's blood without bitching are living in Dayton and Minneapolis, or NYC and Paris.

Anyway. Soul or no soul; I don't care so much as long as Spike is written well. There's a certain range for variations in his character I'll accept, and it's hard for me to say what those are unless I have a portrayal to point to and say: "That's right on the money, but *that's* not right at all."

I still see too many S/X stories written with a Spike far softer than true.

I'd talk more specifically about the way I'm thinking of using the soul/free will issue in a story, but I guess I'm holding it in reserve. *g* If I like an idea well enough, I'll guard it a bit jealously until it's used.

I used to rail against the souled/unsouled dichotomizing quite a lot though, and I can still get behind that--with the objections, I mean. As you say elsewhere, ME made a choice to keep certain moral aspects of their universe simplified, especially as they sought for the show's closure. I think that happened for a mix of reasons: (i) the brouhaha over "Seeing Red," (ii) Marsters's feelings about that episode and his character, and (iii) the writers' and Joss's feelings surrounding the Spike/Buffy ship, and how it might influence impressionable viewers.

And season 7 was a total hash. They seemed bent on demonstrating that almost *everyone* was on a redemption arc--Anya, Andrew, Spike, Willow, Faith--to the point of saying a lot of Buffy's people were murderers. But the show never dealt with its own implications. It all still came down in the end to a simple battle of nasty uber-vamps versus girl-powered slayers.

Gah. I can't think about it. It disappoints me so.
Brassy Hag: ficmiggy on September 23rd, 2003 11:41 am (UTC)
I still see too many S/X stories written with a Spike far softer than true.

Oh, that's a big sticking point with me. I just can't get into a story if certain stereotypes in fic come into play without any effort made to twist them in some way.

1) Sad dumb abused Xander
2) Goopy sweet innocent Spike
3) Sweet loving Buffy
4) Doddering old man Giles
5) Clued-in Angel
6) OMG HE IS EVAL!!!! Riley

I accept that those might be the rose-colored lenses through which people view those characters, but I also reserve the right to hit "back" if I see they didn't take off those glasses prior to sitting down in front of the monitor.
Ms. Stinkycarrielee on September 24th, 2003 06:27 am (UTC)
I still see too many S/X stories written with a Spike far softer than true.

I think that's why I have a hard time with a lot of "Spander" stories. I never thought about the real why, but you put that very well. Or, as super-eloquent me would say, "you capture with words what me could not." There's a reason I'm a reader not a writer...

wisteria: spike - go awaywisteria_ on September 22nd, 2003 02:56 pm (UTC)
I think you've managed the issue quite well in Noir. On the surface, he's helping them because of Buffy. Even so, his priorities have shifted recently from just helping her to helping the whole gang, along with some humans he barely knows (though I think he wouldn't see it in those terms.) But on a subconscious level, he realizes the horror of the New World Order, so by helping Buffy, he's subverting the new regime. In that respect, you could couch the soul issue in his pragmatism.

Soulless Spike is looking out for himself, right? So by helping to overturn the demon government, he's helping himself because the lifestyle they've created is one he dislikes. As the story continues, have him realize that not only is it uncomfortable for him (aside from the fact that he's livin' large), it's awful for humans and demons on the side of "good". His motivation would eventually shift into doing good for the sake of it, rather than simply for how it would benefit himself. By doing that, you balance the self-interest with the selflessness, thus achieving part of what a soul would do.

One more thought... play off what I said above about how *he* feels about his place in it all. He's in a position of power now, with all the spoils that go along with it. Why would he begin to find that distasteful? Seems like it's what he would want, right? So why does he grow to dislike it?

Or something. Just my off-the-cuff response. :)
saussy7spoons on September 22nd, 2003 03:20 pm (UTC)
I'd love to hear your new thoughts about free will and the soul and the possible metaphysical explanations for vampires, but I'd settle for watching them play out in your fic. ;)

Thanks so much for pimping The Gay Conversation, btw. Your enthusiasm knocked us out.
the keeper of the wolf vodka: GRRRspuzz on September 22nd, 2003 03:22 pm (UTC)
As for using that in Sidelines, I would like to see that as a interesting format to explore. Especially Xander's reactions to Spike with a soul, if he had gotten the soul for him. Xander is such a different personality than Buffy and the Sideline's universe is its own little niche. Anyway my two cents.
ivyincubus on September 22nd, 2003 03:51 pm (UTC)
To me, the only point of having a soul is that it puts you as a higher candidate for redemption. You may want redemption to begin with, but you need the soul to help it along. The soul seems important only if you want the redemption. The argument is made that redemption is possible without a soul. Probably valid. We simply haven't seen it accomplished on the show.

To me, on BtVS, a soul is just for redemption. There was this huge focus about how vampires are soulless creatures, and they can't love, because they don't have souls. And this lack of focus on the fact that humans, with souls, were doing bad things anyway. So, what I gathered from the show, is that you don't need a soul to do good (ie: Clem, Spike), that you don't need a lack of soul to bad (ie: Faith), but if you're going to be redeemed, you need the soul. (As in the case of both Faith and Spike.)

But that's just how I saw it.
Sammylittlesammy on September 23rd, 2003 02:39 am (UTC)
I am not all that fond of the theory that a soul makes it all better and good. Pop a soul in, bang, you suffer for what horrible things you have done. That's too easy, IMO. Just getting a soul does not *undo* what you have done.

What I would *really* like to see is a Spike who doesn't have a soul, but somehow loses the chip - and thus has to actively *decide* what way he wants to take. Be a good guy (the lure of giving Buffy what she wants) or a bad guy (the lure of the thrill and the ecstasy of killing)?

It will be hard for him, and a real struggle, whatever path he chooses, but this is the only way that can eventually lead to redemption for him.
rusty_halo on September 23rd, 2003 09:28 am (UTC)
I love no-soul redemption stories. That's where BtVS seemed to be heading in S5, and my favorite fics are those that pick that up and go with it ("Necessary Evils," "Daemons Luminati," etc.) The soul always felt like a cop-out so that the writers could get out of exploring the really complex moral issues that no-soul redemption raised (so that instead they could focus on "Girl power! Yay! *just ignore the domestic abuse part*").

I'll be terribly disappointed if you choose to give Spike a soul in your stories, but of course I'll respect your creative decision.
Anna S.eliade on September 23rd, 2003 11:15 am (UTC)
I'll be terribly disappointed

I think I'll have to try and ignore that if I want to continue writing, regardless of what I might decide. I am far too easily influenced by comments that I latch onto as potentially representative of my audience. ;>) (Like when I mentioned that people two years ago were happy that I hadn't given Spike a soul: I can still remember one or two comments that lodged deeply on that point.)
rusty_halo on September 23rd, 2003 08:46 pm (UTC)
Sorry! Feel free to ignore anything I say. If it helps, I don't think I'm particularly representative of your audience anyway. I'm seeing increasing numbers of people, even the former no-soul redemptionistas, becoming accustomed to and accepting of the soul. I'm just stubborn as hell; no matter how much time goes by, I'm still going to hate the damn thing. Although I am much more accepting of it in fanfic if it's written well and with more complexity than ME allowed.
Anna S.eliade on September 23rd, 2003 09:25 pm (UTC)
No worries! :)

But thanks for commenting, because I get to lick your icon...not that I licked that particular clump of pixels on my monitor screen of course, because that would just be silly and wrong and indicative of deep mental problems.

I merely *thought* about licking it.
Lumenara Dhahm: bite melumenara on September 23rd, 2003 11:55 am (UTC)
I definitely feel that the soul as ME played it was a cop out, in a very major way. I've said this before, but my favorite reaction to the soul-sitch, as it stood at the S6 cliffhanger, is MP's "What We Have."

Okay, I really indended to write more about this, because I have strong sentiments on this issue, but I have to run to class. I'll be back to plague you later.
Lesleyparatti on September 23rd, 2003 01:30 pm (UTC)
I like that he doesn't have a soul, that he's got to use reason to overcome the urge towards evil and that it's fueled by love.
(Anonymous) on September 23rd, 2003 02:53 pm (UTC)
Soul or not
I think Spike can be on the side of "good" without a soul because he has that whole chivalry thing going.
Also, I think he gets bored too easily when everything is going his way (has that ever happened?) - its not a natural state of affairs for him to be in power, so he was never going to side with the Grauth for more than a brief flirtation.
This is why he would never support Manchester United - where did JW get THAT idea. They would never give him the roller-coaster ride he needs - he'd have to support a) a London team and b) one that didn't win too consistently - eg. Crystal Palace, West Ham, Spurs or some such. Anyone with me (Lady Concertina) on this?
(Anonymous) on September 26th, 2003 11:21 pm (UTC)
[quote] however, my critical deal-breaking condition is that Spike has to *choose* to be saddled with it. What's fascinating to me about him is how contrary he is, how willing he is to flout his own supposed nature, for all these complex and obscure reasons that we could attribute to so many things. [/quote]

My thought is that he got the soul out of pride, not love. He went and said stuff all the time that blatantly contradicted what he had done, and later did, but he always thought of that as a *choice* to be 'evil, duh.'

Then he told Buffy that 'I don't hurt you,' and he *meant it.* He really thought that he was choosing to break his word all of this time, that he *could* be a good man of some sort, noble and all that rot. Then the bathroom incident, no worse than a thousand things he has done to Drusilla, Harmony, Anya, his mother; all the women he has touched or loved, but this one incident broke him, because he had made a promise and thought that he was some sort of man who could keep such a promise.

The demon in him made him a liar, showed him that the Big Bad wasn't even in control of *himself* and couldn't reliably say *anything* about himself, as the demon would do whatever the hell it wanted, no matter what sort of man he thought he could be. He couldn't be a 'good man.' He couldn't be any sort of man at all, as long as the demon was able to veto his every intention and screw up his every plan, as it always had.

Good intentions, and no means to express them, trapped in the cell of his existence with a rampaging monster that loves to savage everything he has ever tried to cultivate, including his own sense of self. It chuckles as he attacks the mannequin and throws the chocolates across the room, and rolls its eyes at the endless amusement of watching him right the mannequin and try again, waiting for the right moment to make all Spikes efforts for naught.

So Spike went to Africa and got a soul, not out of love, since I don't think he really ever understood the concept, in life or during his century of violent fun with the raving lunatic, but out of the realization that he could not even have the *choice* of being any sort of man at all without it.

IMO, Spike is a proud creature, and his emasculation jokes were just that, jokes, since he knew that he was still a man. Until the demon proved to him otherwise in Buffy's bathroom and he did what he always did when frustrated, lashed out, only in this case, at the part of himself that made him truly impotent, truly unable to be a man, his demon.

Ponyponygirl2000 on September 28th, 2003 04:46 pm (UTC)
Just jumping in out of the blue to say...
After numerous recs I finally read your Season Noir this week and of course was blown away. I was completely impressed with your writing - great dialogue, especially remembering the humour in all the angst! - and am simply looking forward to more.
Anna S.eliade on October 5th, 2003 12:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Just jumping in out of the blue to say...
Thank you! :) I'm glad you're liking it!