November 18th, 2003

elijah

rain and pigeons

You know how at some point in your life, when you're young enough to still be in school and you're hating that trapped pointless feeling, you visit a big city, like on a field trip, and watch all the people going to and fro: they're grown up, they're wanding around in the middle of the day without needing a hall pass, they're carrying coffees and shopping bags. And you can't *wait* to grow up, because it's so glamorous--when you're grown up, you will go to a coffee shop every morning. The whole ritual of paying for your coffee and drinking it won't just be an occasional thing--you'll get to do it *every day*. The same for everything else--you'll get to eat lunch wherever you want, you'll have freedom of movement, you'll sit in the plaza among the pigeons with a croissant, et cetera.

And then you grow up and scrabble for a job and most days you're bored out of your skull and your main goal is just trying to stay awake, and your coffee ritual and lunch trips are just part of your larger rut, ordinary habits that you don't think about--the pigeons are annoying, the plaza is filled with co-workers you want to avoid, and you're constantly worrying about your student loans and your credit card debt and wishing you could take off to Tahiti or buy a new pair of shoes, and yet even when you *do* these things, there's very little joy in them. Very little in your life makes you stop and savor.

All of which is--oh. Wait. Hold on. It's not Monday...my angst is a day late. Now back to your regularly scheduled fannishness.

I kick you all, by the way. Kick kick kick! But I kick you because I love you: I want more people to comment on my last post and talk about vampires and morality and souls and stuff, so that I can suck your brains dry hear what you think. And yeah, I'm a whiiiiiiiiner, and am taking a five-minute break from being ashamed of this.

*macks on you all*
elijah

more rain, hold the pigeons

I am full of blather today. Kind of avoid-y. Not that work isn't fun--indeed, it's so tingly-making and fulfilling and joyous I think the top of my head might blow off at any moment and hit the ceiling tiles with a wet, red splatter from the sheer force of my professional orgasm.

But enough about me.

I just reread this story--from an old fandom, by a writer who isn't likely to be reading this, so anyone who *is* reading this can put away their paranoia--which is good. It has a well thought-out plot, moves organically, gives proper characterization, and contains authentic details that clue you into all the author's research. It's long and meaty, but there are no extraneous scenes. The language is clear, precise, and descriptive. Overall, it has the stamp of canon. It's also a boring story. Reading a story like this is like watching a competent episode of your favorite show where nothing drastic happens to any of the characters, and we don't learn much about them we didn't already know: they converse, they copulate, they have small relationship insights, they eat meals, and we get to watch them clean the potatoes and grill the fish. Professionally, they do everything by the book--they don't drop their guns or kill anyone by accident, and their remarks about a case/mission/demon-hunt are more intelligent, detailed, and pertinent than you'd ever get in canon itself. If they get kidnapped, they try to reason with their captors. As a reader, you can never really fault the characters for what they do or say. If there's an argument about something, the tension is put to bed by the end. Emotions are...tidy. Sex comes at the end of the story, like clockwork, like punctuation. Even when it's slash, it feels like gen. Or maybe I should say: it feels like the dryest kind of gen.

So, there's nothing wrong with gen. I mean, for most shows, canon itself is "gen." It's written for a general audience; romantic relationships exist but might not be the primary thrust or A-plot--the driving mechanism--of a given episode or story. But I sometimes wonder what drives the authors of stories like this. (Of course, I should note again that this particluar example was a slash story; it just lacked the edge I usually associate with slash.) It's weird to me when fan stories seem to be taking fewer risks than the shows themselves; I've read stories by authors so scrupulous that they never color outside the lines. They're usually very good authors in terms of writing and plotting mechanics, but I can skim 90k of a story without once having my attention arrested, without tensing, without breaking a smile or snerking. I skim and skim and skim, and finish the story in seven minutes, and I don't feel like I've missed a thing.

Comedy excuses anything of course. If a story's funny, there's your point in writing it. But when you've got an interesting plot, it's usually only *really* interesting when it's working on the characters. And if you've got a relationship woven into the story, where's it going?

I'm not talking about shorter stories with a one-trick premise, or PWPs--nothing wrong with those--but the stories that obviously have ambitions to replicate canon, but lack spark, where the author is so careful to adhere to the creators' vision that she barely presents any vision of her own. There's no imprint of passion. No kink. (Gah. I can always drag the k-word into a discussion.) Fans can be more playful, and I think they should be; because with a show, we're at least getting real actors--we're getting their physical presence and their actorly nuances; we're seeing the story brought to life. In a written story, if you just replicate the bare, dry bones of a moderately interesting canon episode, but add no twist...what's the point?

If the point is *solely* to supplement a show, because we're hungry for more of the same, or because the show is off the air and we want it to continue indefinitely, I'm not sure that's enough. More of the same, without anything new and different, is like night after night of TV dinners. Filling, gets the job done, but no thrill of surprise.

Of course, sometimes it's just the writing qua writing. Sometimes the writing is just plain, has no new tricks. Transparent, competent, no-frills writing is serviceable for a lot of stuff, but if the writing is full of garnish and spice, it can disguise the more predictable elements of stories. Or dialogue--take early BtVS for example: some of those plots are ludicrous, but the dialogue shapes the characterizations and the episodes snap and zing.

It is raining, it is twelve o'clock, it is three and a half days till the weekend. Sigh.
elijah

more on vampires

A comment from LC got my thinking on the analogy of vampires to children, which I've heard arguments both for and against. Eternal children, children of the night, is admittedly the whole idea of vampires, I guess. Arrested development and all that. Of course, you can argue to death whether Spike changed and grew over the course of his arc or not, before he became souled. I am just going to put this bit of quotage out there because I thought it was interesting.

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elijah

freakkkkkkk!

I'm sorry, but Carson, you are on *serious* fashion crack. Dear christ. WTF is up with that camo print shirt? And the purple? Make it stop.

*whimpers*

I think I may be watching a Queer Eye rerun that I just haven't seen before. So this will make sense only to me.

I sorta kinda want to do the 10 unpopular fannish opinions meme, but I'd come off as a total bitch and you'd all leave me and never speak to me again. Instead, I will emulate Angel and brood.
elijah

me.

depressed.
stupid.
drinking.
  • Current Mood
    lame.