Friday, September 18, 2009

Fanfic Pick O' the Week

I’m thinking about making this a regular feature for this blog, but I’m hesitant. The kind of fanfiction a person reads can be such a subjective thing. There are so many fandoms, genres, sub-genres, and styles that unless you’re talking to somebody in a specific forum, it’s hard to recommend something that they could be interested in. When you’re talking to somebody about books, it’s not that complicated. If I say that I like horror or science fiction, even if those aren’t the type of books that you like, you know what I’m talking about. It’s relatable, because there are only a set number of genres that exist, and for the most part we’re all aware of what they are. However with fanfiction there is no quality control or marketing department involved to decide whether or not a story is good enough or has mass appeal enough to be released. This can be a double edged sword, because on one hand there’s much more freedom for anyone to write anything, and a lot of good ideas and stories can come out of that. But on the other hand, the sheer volume of it all almost insures that the majority of it will be crap, and that sifting through it to find the good bits can be a cumbersome task. What this also means, since the people who read fanfiction are also the people who write it, is that any interest, no matter how obscure, is represented somewhere. And so the genres get broken down into sub-genres; character fics, shipper fics, crossovers, slash, alternate universe fics, uber fics, etc. To the point where it’s no longer relatable. If I tell you that I like horror or science fiction, you understand, but if I tell you that I like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander-centric crossovers, can you relate to that? Seriously, can you, because that really is what I’m into. My point in all this rambling is that because of the specificity of genre, making general recommendations of fanfiction can be a challenge. But I’m going to give it a try anyway.

But first, some background. Writing fanfiction has been a hobby of mine for over ten years now. I started off writing Star Trek erotica, where I made all the rookie mistakes. Author insertion, Mary Sues, sloppy crossovers, and generally poor writing. I like to think that I’ve gotten better over the years and developed my own style and voice. I started writing Star Trek Voyager fic mostly, since it was the only Trek series on the air at the time, and I became a Kim/Torres shipper. Eventually the novelty of erotica wore off on me and I became more interested in storytelling. I started writing mostly Buffy stories, and I developed an affinity for the character of Xander, as well as an affinity for crossovers. I know that crossovers have a bad reputation in some circles, simply because it’s so easy to do them badly. Any fanboy who ever wondered what would happen if Darth Vader met Optimus Prime can put fingers to keyboard and bang out a cliché-ridden pile of drivel. The most grievous offense seems to be lack of story, the author relying too heavily on the novelty of the crossover to keep the reader interested. I guess it was the challenge that attracted me, to make the crossover seem natural and have a good reason for it, the ability to tell an original story with realistic character interaction. My stuff has always been heavily character driven.

So that’s where I’m coming from. You can use that information to decide exactly how many grains of salt to take with any of my recommendations. And so without further ado…

Our Day Has Come
By Pete Meilinger (
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Pairing: Buffy/Xander
Genre: Romance
Summary: Buffy realizes that she has feelings for her Xander-shaped friend and with a little help from their friends, the two spend a romantic evening together.

Romance fics generally fall into two categories, smut and angst. This is one of those rare stories that are neither. Sweet to the point of sappy in some places, funny and well written, “Our Day Has Come” really makes you care about the characters and root for them to fall in love. Written from Buffy’s point of view, Pete brings out the sweetness and vulnerability of her character that was so evident in the early seasons of the show, and so absent in the later seasons. I’ve always considered myself more of a Willow/Xander shipper, though I also enjoy other Xander ships as well. One of the things I love about this story, and Pete’s stories in general, is that even when he isn’t writing W/X, Willow and Xander’s friendship is still highlighted and an important part of the story. You really get a sense of the deep bond that they share. This story has the distinction for me of being the fanfic that I’ve probably reread the most, and each time I read it again I get just as much joy out of it.

This is a good story for novice fanfic readers to get their feet wet. It’s not too complicated and it doesn’t require extensive knowledge of the show in order to follow the story. For hardcore Buffy fans, it’s a great story too because it’s primarily about the characters that we know and love from the show. It successfully captures the essence of these characters, while taking them in a new and different direction. And after all, isn’t that the point of fanfic.

If you do decide to read the story, be sure to drop Pete a line and let him know what you thought.

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