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how I fan differently in SPN vs. Buffy

Do y'all remember back in my Buffy days, when I wrote like 95% genfic? I do. Vaguely. Even as late as the beginning of last year, I mostly wrote gen. But these days it's mostly ships, most of the time. (Which reminds me, I have got to change the subtitle of this journal; it used to be "Mostly Fic, Most of the Time," which hasn't been true since about two weeks after I created the thing, and now it's "Mostly Fic, Some of the Time," which... doesn't really mean anything?)

I think this gen vs. ships thing is partly motivated by canon. We're told that we write fic to fill in the gaps, to get the stories that canon doesn't give us. Well, we got plenty of romance in Buffy canon - and appropriately so, given the ages of the characters - and what little we get in SPN is, well, pretty underdeveloped. Meg/Castiel is the first ship even close to a canon ship for this show that I've been actively excited about, and it managed that basically by pulling a Spuffy: it developed over several seasons a relationship between characters that were not either of them introduced to be anyone's romantic interest. Ruby/Sam also has some very interesting aspects and got lots of screentime, but that one was hard to ship in realtime, since it was so unclear where Ruby was coming from. And then of course as soon as we found out, she died. >:( /forever bitter

So with SPN there's this huge gap I want to fill in with relationships, and for some reason that isn't entirely clear to me, most of all I want romantic relationships. They don't have to be Happily Ever After ships; in fact, most of them I write really aren't. They do tend to be positive in some way, because that's just how I roll; mutual destruction is not something that usually appeals to me in a ship. So maybe it's partly that I want for these characters who live in such a bleak universe to find some solace, however brief. Again, why I've been defaulting to sex and romance for that, I don't know.

There's also the fact that SPN is actually much, much better in the plotty gen department than BtVS was, at least in the places I read. (I have this impression that more male-dominated Buffy spaces, like Twisting the Hellmouth, had more of it? But then I also have the impression that it was largely Xander-centric, which wouldn't have done anything for me.) The casefic is a genre in SPN, and it really just wasn't in BtVS.

And yet... I often don't really care? Don't get me wrong, there is definitely SPN plotty gen that I love. But I frequently find that plotty gen tends to focus a lot more on action and, well, plot than on character development of any kind. The characters themselves are static. And emphasis on those things at the expense of not just characterization but in forward motion of some kind for the characters is exactly why I don't read thrillers; there's too much running around and not enough feelings. I need feelings in my fic! (Obviously this varies with the reader; if everyone felt the way I do, no one would write or buy thrillers.) OTOH, there's also plenty of SPN genfic that's still about feelings TO THE MAX, thank you, canon. :D (For whatever reason, I don't end up writing any of that, however.)

Entirely aside from the ships vs. gen aspect, I find that I'm just much, much looser in my approach to most SPN fic than I am to Buffy, even now. I'm totally cool with noncanon ships in SPN, whereas there were very few in BtVS that interested me for more than novelty value. I happily read tons of tropey AUs in SPN where Dean's a carpenter and Castiel is a theater major or whatever and don't even care particularly how closely the characters relate to canon, as long as I enjoy their characterization in a given fic. I can't imagine doing that for any character or ship in Buffy fandom unless it could still be tied back into canon somehow, as some kind of canon divergence AU. I apparently treat SPN more as a sandbox to play in, and BtVS more as a... Lego set? Everything in SPN is malleable, but BtVS is composed of discrete pieces that I am disinclined to try and break? IDK.

I also never made a big deal about female characters in Buffy. My very favorite was Spike, first of all, but it wasn't like I didn't write female characters or read fic of them. I just... didn't need to make a point of it? I shipped a juggernaut het pairing (which frequently did poorly by its female half, but that's another story), and any fic worth its salt featured plenty of female secondary characters as well, and there was genfic of female characters I cared about, too. Whereas in SPN, of course, fic of women is scattered hither and yon. Also, I frequently end up feeling a wee bit defensive of my beloved SPN ladies when discussing them with other fans. I think it's clear that this difference is down to the canons. But again: what I can't get in canon, I want in fic.

And of course, all this is aside from the RPF, where all I want is a) exploration of social structures built on alternate reproductive strategies, and b) tropey rom-coms.

TL;DR I am quite a different fan in SPN than I was in Buffy.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
grasshopr_molly
Jun. 1st, 2013 06:14 am (UTC)
Buffy had a lot more female characters to do things with--the title character, to begin with. You didn't need to be quite so protective.
snickfic
Jun. 1st, 2013 06:39 am (UTC)
Right. It's not like passing Bechdel Test was ever an issue on BtVS; I expect it happened every single episode.

That's not to say various female characters didn't get bashed, not only by slashers but even by the people who shipped her, but at least they were there.
maerhys
Jun. 1st, 2013 10:08 am (UTC)
The character-driven thriller is such an elusive, wondrous beast. My favorite of all of the rarely-seen stories. I could write you 10,000 words on this but I'll spare you. Or, I'll randomly share that I am trying to do this in a thousand words for my spring fling. Success is a see-saw.

I started in a fandom that had never even heard of gen fic or slash, or even non-canon pairings. I wrote a semi-canon tertiary pairing for a long time and it was not until I became multi-fannish that I started writing gen fic. Or, fic where the romantic relationship is not running the show, which encompasses quite a lot.

All of this rambling is to say that I think different fandoms bring out different wants in us. I spend 8+ hours a day working on novels about serial killers and female LEOs out to bring down the human big bad, so in fanfic, I really like a more shippy fic, or a familial fic with a more "lit fic" feels. And horror is always good, especially in SPN where the canon if rife for exploring horror.
snickfic
Jun. 1st, 2013 06:21 pm (UTC)
Re springfling: EEEEE. I wonder if it will be a pairing I read. :D

Now I am curious what fandom you started in. Off-hand, the first thing I'd guess would be... Star Wars? But I'd be surprised if Star Wars didn't have any genfic. Perhaps a Japanese fandom?

All of this rambling is to say that I think different fandoms bring out different wants in us.

Yep. Since this is only the second fandom I've spent a lot of time in, I just now have something to contrast with my first fannish experience. I had the idea that I was by nature a gen fan or whatever, and it turns out to be more complicated than that.
ever_neutral
Jun. 1st, 2013 11:14 am (UTC)
Interesting. I wonder if Buffy is less of a sandbox (for you, at least) because it was generally a better show? At least in developing lots of different relationships (as opposed to just one or two between main characters). That could be a factor IMO.
snickfic
Jun. 1st, 2013 06:29 pm (UTC)
Ha ha, well there is also that. I feel like it was also a lot more structured in terms of, hmm, plot and character relationships? So much about the show comes specifically from Buffy as a teenager in California, and her destiny, and Giles, and vampires. IDK. I feel like the SPN world, with the road trips and never being in the same place twice, allows for a lot more flexibility?

But I am not convinced that this difference exists anywhere outside my own head. Possibly if a bunch of fic writers had seen fit to write, like, law enforcement AUs of Buffy back in the day (all of Buffy, not just Buffy/Spike), I would feel totally differently.
angearia
Jun. 1st, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
I feel like the SPN world, with the road trips and never being in the same place twice, allows for a lot more flexibility?

Maybe in so much as still being able to say a fic is canon-compliant as opposed to AU?

Possibly if a bunch of fic writers had seen fit to write, like, law enforcement AUs of Buffy back in the day (all of Buffy, not just Buffy/Spike), I would feel totally differently.

Law enforcement AUs seems like the natural extension for SPN, though. Like for Buffy, it's high school AUs or college AUs. Same principle applies to both -- strip away the supernatural.

Edited at 2013-06-01 06:56 pm (UTC)
snickfic
Jun. 1st, 2013 07:31 pm (UTC)
And yet I think I've read maybe one SPN AU that didn't feature some supernatural component. Whereas there are a million and one HS and college AUs. (I think, though, that that has more to do with fandom's preferences and also the relative difficulties of cop AUs vs. school AUs.)

What I'm really saying re: SPN, though, is that it feels much more conducive to non-canon AUs than Buffy does, while still retaining some sense of being related to SPN.
slaymesoftly
Jun. 1st, 2013 02:40 pm (UTC)
That's a really interesting assessment of the two fandoms (or your relationship to them). Love the "legos" analogy for Buffy. :) I've read so little SPN fic (mostly xovers years ago while judging somewhere) that I really have no idea what it's like. Once I'd seen the word "Wincest" a few too many times, I tended to run away from the idea of SMN fic. lol
snickfic
Jun. 1st, 2013 06:30 pm (UTC)
I would say of the total quantity of SPN produced these days, Sam/Dean is now in the minority. Dean/Castiel has taken over the fandom in a big way, and in particular is popular with a slightly newer generation of fans to the show.

Not that Dean/Castiel is exactly representative of the fandom as a whole, either. :)
slaymesoftly
Jun. 1st, 2013 07:33 pm (UTC)
Well, such a guy-centric fandom must leave lots of room for m-p fics. :)
snickfic
Jun. 1st, 2013 07:36 pm (UTC)
Now that is the truth. The fandom runneth over with them. Alas, it turns out I am pickier than that? Not just any guy getting pregnant will do; usually what I really want is genfic or het mpreg, and that's a much rarer beast. Woe is me! :)
ghostyouknow27
Jun. 1st, 2013 03:22 pm (UTC)
I might have real thoughts for you later, but right now I'm just amused because I seriously started this post yesterday morning. Except mine was "Whoa, the fannish writer that I was two years ago would seriously side-eye the fannish writer that I am today." But then I didn't really feel like writing much beyond that first sentence. :)
snickfic
Jun. 1st, 2013 06:31 pm (UTC)
HEE. Great minds! And also ours!

The fannish writer I was two years ago would be horrified that I write explicit sex sometimes now.
ghostyouknow27
Jun. 1st, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
Yes! Sex. Romance in general. Things where I don't particularly care if the science makes sense. RPF. Short fic. Fic without plot. If old!fannish me were still around, she'd be shaking her head at new!fannish me. "What happened to her?
angearia
Jun. 1st, 2013 06:51 pm (UTC)
You know, maybe it's because BtVS was such a shippy show? So much kissing and sex and actual relationships! And then there was a need for gen fic, too, since there was so much shippy fic.

Whereas I don't really find SPN to be all that shippy romantically. I mean, that the show teases and makes you work for it, but it doesn't really ~go there on its own.

Maybe it's the challenge of it all?

That's just my perception, though. I tend to write based upon feeling a need for the story to exist.
snickfic
Jun. 1st, 2013 07:37 pm (UTC)
I tend to write based upon feeling a need for the story to exist.

Yep! This exactly. It's the whole reason I write fic. "WHY IS THERE NO X? I WILL MAKE SOME."
scarletscarlet
Jun. 2nd, 2013 04:37 am (UTC)
I was thinking about some of this the other day. I feel more attached to the women of SPN than I did the women of Harry Potter, and I suspect part of that is because the show does not do well by its women at ALL, so I start digging my heels in and getting stubborn about it.

My *consumption* habits haven't changed greatly across fandoms wrt gen/shippy/porny, but my producing habits have, massively so - I don't really remember the last time I drew something sexually explicit, whereas in HP I was alllll about the porn. Which seems weird, because for that to work, I had to age the characters up, whereas in SPN they're already old enough for it to be okay... but I think it's because I feel awkward looking at pictures of Jared's actual face and body and using them for a reference to draw either a version of him, or Sam, doing something saucy.
snickfic
Jun. 2nd, 2013 05:39 am (UTC)
I think it's because I feel awkward looking at pictures of Jared's actual face and body and using them for a reference to draw either a version of him, or Sam, doing something saucy.

Makes sense to me! Also yes re: your women feelings. This show makes me stubborn about women, too. And also so many of them are excellent. :)
scarletscarlet
Jun. 2nd, 2013 05:50 am (UTC)
Hah, and there's the casual dismissal thing, too, like Xjust isn't a good character, or the fandom doesn't like women blahblah, and I am all >:( NO U. Er, an articulate response!
snickfic
Jun. 2nd, 2013 05:54 am (UTC)
Yes. Or the fandom likes the women despite the fact that none of them are as good as the men. /not over that yet

Or they're annoying. I have decided that "I don't like X because she's annoying" is the least useful response ever. It's a subjective response, which is fine, but it's framed as an objective response, but there's nothing there to engage with, so it comes down to someone dissing character I love for no discernible reason. Like, if X made them mad, or X reminded them of person IRL that was mean to them or whatever, fine. All those I can engage with or accept as needed. But 'annoying,' nope. AUGH.
scarletscarlet
Jun. 2nd, 2013 06:06 am (UTC)
They're just not as interesting, dontchaknow, female characters can't grab your attention unless they have a full arc.

"annoying" is quite unhelpful, yes. What does that even mean? I can even understand, say, disliking the storyline meaning disliking the character because their appearance *means* that storyline, but damn, expand on those descriptions a little.

I have figured out recently that I feel like the characters are, in a way, independent of their actors (and even of the writing, to some extent, though that starts getting really difficult since they only exist inside how they're written).

For example, I don't particularly enjoy Madison McLaughlin's portrayal of Krissy, and I'm quite certain she was cast mainly because of her strong physical resemblance to the lead in True Grit. But Krissy herself is an interesting character with a lot of potential, and so while I don't enjoy watching her, I would enjoy fanwork involving her.

Megalyn Echikunwoke had some awkward moments* as Cassie, but I consider myself a fan of the character, and have enthusiastically consumed fic featuring her. So I get a little indignant with people who don't like Cassie (eg) because the acting wasn't great, because dammit, that wasn't Cassie, that was the actress! It gets a little confusing sometimes.

*as have, to be quite fair, many of the guest actors in every season.

Edited at 2013-06-02 06:07 am (UTC)
snickfic
Jun. 2nd, 2013 03:40 pm (UTC)
Well, but if they have a full arc, then they're annoying, because we're spending all this time on them when there's no point.

Ha ha, I know what you mean about the characters being divorced from their actors. Yes. Krissy is a good example - I agree that the acting isn't particularly compelling, but I love so much of what the character is meant to be that it doesn't seem fair to dismiss her just because she is, very realistically, being portrayed by a teenager. (Gah, I just realized that no matter my feelings about next season, if they bring back Colin Ford for one last late-teen appearance, I will so tune in.)

The True Grit similarities hadn't occurred to me! That does seem likely, though, now that you mention it.

Re: Megalyn Echikunwoke, mostly I find myself really wanting her to show up in more RPF things.
scarletscarlet
Jun. 3rd, 2013 07:28 am (UTC)
I hadn't even though about possible Colin Ford appearances in S9! I would like that :).

Megalyn, yes, I would like her in more RPF things too. Something with Julie Benz and or Amy Acker, maybe, so there's more S1 tie in. I was seriously considering claiming a thing in the spnj2bb 2nd round mainly because Cassie was in it - I really enjoy her face and would like to draw it at some point.
rahirah
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Hey, can we link this on metanews?
snickfic
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Sure!
eilowyn
Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:40 am (UTC)
I think I'm kind of opposite of you, in a Buffy vs. EVERYTHING ELSE way. With Buffy, I mostly read shippy fic, and I'm very mono-shipistic (look! I just made up a word!) at that. Usually I'll end up reading gen if a friend wrote it, but I don't actively seek out gen fic. With EVERYTHING ELSE, I don't feel strongly enough about any one ship (Jeff and Annie coming closest to an actual OTP) that I seek out shippy fic (except for binges, like my "any-het-with-Jo" binge over New Year's). So, again, when I read gen, it's because a friend wrote it. There has yet to be a show that grabs me like BtVS does, so I'm kind of stuck in a BtVS rut, so to speak. Not that I'm really complaining, but I really hope SOMETHING comes that really gets me addicted. Lost came close, Game of Thrones comes close (but I have absolutely no ships other than Gendry/Arya, which makes me feel dirty because she's 11 or something), Community comes close, but I guess I'm mono-showistic as well as mono-shipistic.
snickfic
Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
Heh, yeah, I think that makes you more monoshippy than I ever was. Even in SPN, I ship about twenty different pairings at least casually, many of them mutually exclusive. And yeah, I read a lot of Spuffy, but that's at least partly because that's what there was; I'd been in the fandom probably a year before I started seriously shipping it myself. Up to that point it was just my source of all things Spike.
metanewsmods
Jun. 4th, 2013 02:16 pm (UTC)
Really neat post! Can we link at this week's metanews?
snickfic
Jun. 4th, 2013 02:20 pm (UTC)
You are welcome to! (As, um, I already told rahirah above. :) )
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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