November 17th, 2003


Other people think so that I don't have to.

Great, smart, really cool post from coffeeandink speculatively analyzing Wesley's relationships with women, with spoilers through "Lineage."

josselin gives some writing advice that I agree with.

Also, an interesting conversation on men & crying in porch_talk. I've begun to notice in the last two noir stories or so that my characters are crying fairly often. It just sort of, um, happens. And then we all move on. But I wonder if I did a tally, or tried to imagine all those instances filmed, would it be more frequent than I realized, more over the top?

I got some writing done yesterday and am startled to realize that I'm actually very close to finishing "Allies" (noir 14). Yay, team me. Of course "close" is a relative term, but you know. Close for *me*.

This morning I was in the office by shortly after eight. I thought I had a lot of work to do today. And, well, I still think that. I just haven't let myself remember what it is yet. I'm in danger of re-entering techno-slacker mode. Must *resist*. Must *focus*. Must--oh, hey, shiny.

the romantic is the real

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In other blather, I was riding the bus home and thinking about character affinities and frictives. Like, say you took Angel and (unsouled) Spike and Xander and sent them on a quest. And you wanted to write about their interactions. You can rearrange them any number of ways--Xander and Spike ally in a mutual dislike of Angel; Angel and Spike ally on vampire common ground, a kind of superiority of age and experience; Angel and Xander ally on the high moral ground of soulfulness and irritation with Spike. Et cetera. You shift them and shake them, and roll the dice like you're playing Dungeous & Dragons and at any given moment it's a little hard to predict how things will fall, and that's how it should be, because we're not robots. We're humans (even when we're vampires), and we can have our buttons pushed, but while we may be predictable 70 percent of the time, it's that other 30 percent that keeps us surprised.

I mention all this only to say that I think good writers allow their characters to shift and respond based on circumstance and mood and whim (I am hungry, therefore I am cranky, therefore I am more annoyed with Spike than I was an hour ago), whereas lesser writers force their characters to replay rote patterns into ruts, the way that guy made his ballerina dance the same dance over and over in "Waiting in the Wings," even if he didn't know it. You get these one-note characterizations: Angry!Xander, Butch!Angel, Possessive!Spike, etc. Because it's scary and hard for writers--if your characters are multifaceted, the complexity increases; you have an increasing number of permutations, it's like higher math. Challenging. But really, it's fun, and people should take the show itself as a model, because it's *all* about shifting alliances, the twists of relationships, growth and change, the fluidity of our identities, and so on.

You know--my original thoughts above, about vampires versus serial killers, were really meant to shoehorn me into questions about free will. In much shorter terms: so what if vampires don't have free will. Couldn't will itself be enough? Or is what's missing from their make-up some kind of critical purpose and principle that would keep a vampire on track, keep him from being distracted by the pretty shiny evil? And do vampires have an innate alliance with evil? I mean, do they follow evil as an active ethos, or is their evil more of a lack, a vacuum--do vamps tend to be lazy slaves to their own natures? Are they driven by a desire to give pain, or are they simply indifferent to human pain? (As an analogy, a feeding lion probably can't be called a sadist.) Or is it some combination of both that varies by vampire?

ETA: I sometimes flash on Spike in "All the Way" saying, "No, *I'm* a rebel..." It's got an appeal, the idea that Spike, even without a soul, could set himself in opposition to his own supposedly fixed nature. And sometimes in my fantasies, I imagine these conversations between Spike and whoever his man-of-the-week is, and Spike's all, "Better to reign in Hell..." and the guy says, "But you don't reign. You serve. Don't you see that you have a choice?" Other times I switch back to the idea that a soul is in fact a crucial difference and imagine someone helping Spike grow a soul, a shaman maybe, and he's got to want it, to choose it and keep on the path in order to effect a gradual and painful change over time, and in order to convince him of this, the shaman says: "If you have a soul, you can choose good *or* evil. You can still be evil, if that's what you want. Right now, you don't have that choice. You lose nothing by taking on a soul--you only gain." Spike, of course, would argue against that.

Sigh. I need pasta. I want to go to Stella's Trattoria but my car won't get me that far. Dear god, I need the love of a good man garlic.