Watson likely stories

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You will remember, perhaps, a long time back I said I had some ideas for a story with Giles, Buffy, and Xander in Montana post-Chosen, in which the plan in "Chosen" didn't quite work out as expected? Sort of post-apocalyptic angst, except not really apocalypse for anyone but them. What, you don't remember? That's okay. I can't keep track either. Anyway. I finished one of the scenes and posted it over, you know, there.

I suck at this anonymity thing.

It'll need to get shorter when I write the rest of the story. It's interesting what changes I had to make to help it stand on its own. They'll have to be un-made. I both added references to the situation that wouldn't be necessary in context, and removed them. Discussion about exactly what happened when Sunnydale fell is irrelevant to the purpose of that scene when it's posted to a kink meme, but required when it's replaced into the story context.

Also, I'm not really sure about the present tense choice. I'm not sure it can sustain the longer, chewier story I want that scene to be a part of. But I want the dreaminess, so... I might have to sweat to make it work.

I like the rushy, dreamy, detached-from-reality feel of the present tense for shorter things, or things where I want to distance the reader a bit from what's going on. But if I'm telling a longer story, or have structural complexity to manage, or simply want the reader to think about the story and not the prose, I'll switch back to past tense. And sigh in relief, because my natural storytelling voice is in the past tense without a lot of meta-fictional game-playing.

Though by "natural", what I really mean is "the voice I'm used to using", which can be changed with practice. I have been thinking recently that I've fallen into some stylistic ruts. To break myself out, I do things like try writing stuff explicitly differently. Hence, the present tense in that scene. I'll try a first-person point of view some time soon for the same reason. And I'd really like to do a straight 19th century style omniscient narrator sometime as well. That will be a tasty change from the tight third, free indirect thing I usually do.

I'm just fretting. I worry that the present tense pulls readers out of the fictional dream I want them in when they're reading. It often does for me. Any deviation from the conventions of fiction calls attention to itself; this is just another tool to use, of course. I feel like I only have so much reader attention-capital to spend per story. What do I want to spend it on?

I have inflicted on some of you my rant about "talent" really meaning "obsession + opportunity". This is the obsession part of the equation in evidence. Am thinking about my craft and wondering how to improve it. How to break out of current ruts. Yammer, yammer. I'm just as tedious at cocktail parties as you might imagine.
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(Anonymous)
I knew it! I knew this one was you...very nice. Already commented over there, so, yeah, looking forward to the build up and maybe even some aftermath (please?) whenever you are ready.

As for the craft...see, I have the opposite problem. My natural-feeling voice is present tense, and now that I'm writing original fic, I'm hearing a lot that I should be writing in past tense (which feels really, really wrong to me - like, I think I would feel more comfortable writing with my left hand than writing in past tense...). So, totally get that tense-shift-fret thing. This worked in present.

I always feel things are more immediate in present, but past does allow introspection and poetic expression more easily and fluidly. It's much harder to be introspective and credible in present tense. But in this scene it worked because the introspective thoughts were also reactions and culminations of past thoughts (like Buffy's moment of almost relief when Xander and Giles finally kissed).

But this was wonderful, and whether the longer is in present or past, I look forward to it.

~suki
I thought the choice of present tense was a little odd at first, but it did add to the dreamy feel of the piece. I usually find present tense a bit off-putting, because, as you mentioned, it does distance me from the story. It worked beautifully in Hazy Solos, though. So much so that I was hardly aware of it. Huh. Why is that? Anyway, I enjoyed your latest at the kinkmeme. Nicely done!
"Hazy Solos" was very in the moment, no reflections forward or back. All three of them were stoned, and I think the tense choice helped with that effect in the reader's mind.

With this one, when I revise I'll need to think about how the viewpoint character is dealing with the recent past: there's an awful lot of "don't look at it don't look at it don't think about it" going on in all three of them. Except maybe Giles, who's on his second time around with losing everything.

Must think.