Watson likely stories

Fic postmortem for "Apples, Oranges, and Pears"

Postmortems! Where I figure out what I learned from the process of writing a particular story, what I did well, and what I could have done better.

The request, and my intentions for it

The request was great. Some plot, a taste of Scoobs, a location we haven't seen before in Sunnydale-- that was all great. Kudos to the requester! (I don't know yet who it was.)

The request had me spinning around, thinking about places we didn't see in Sunnydale, which was lot. Then I had a brief image of Merrick's death, then the idea, what if Sunnydale had a tiny amusement park? Near where I grew up is a little place called Salem Willows, where you can ride a merry-go-round, do bumper cars, buy saltwater taffy, and all that stuff. Very tiny. What if Sunnydale had one of those, and it was, like so much in Sunnydale, abandoned? Buffy wouldn't want to go there, but the vamps would. So Giles would have to patrol it.

My initial plot concept involved a lot of Wesley refusing to do his job and patrol there, but Wesley sort of melted away as I got into writing this in detail. It became less about Giles's firing crisis and more about Xander's sexuality crisis.

The working title of this story was "Buddy Flick". And a lot of it is about how Giles and Xander have a lot in common (as well as the obvious differences) and how each enjoys the companionship of the other. They can sing along to classic rock together. Giles can be drawn out of his usual routine and find it pleasant. Xander gets shelter and uncritical acceptance, which is something he needs at that point in his life.

It's about Xander getting comfortable with his sexuality and then plunging right in over his head again. It's about how sexuality might have a couple of major categories, but there are flavors within those categories. And Xander discovers that he doesn't just like men, he likes older men. Or at least men who get his references. (Because the thing about Joss's teenagers is, they're actually pretty sophisticated.)

I originally contemplated no sex at all, just fading at the moment of them coming to an understanding, move to the Buffy phone call repetition. Then I said, what the hell. I wanted to write Giles with all his clothes on being sexy.

The result has its fun moments, but I'm not sure it works as a story. I'm left hoping that the requester at least has a fun time reading it.

Yay outlines!

A typical outline section:
SCENE: In media res. It's the evening before Xander's 18th birthday. He's just been thrown out. He doesn't quite know what to do: who should he crash on? He heads to the library, since he has a key; the library is a safe place to spend the night. Giles is there, sadly collecting his Watcher's diaries to give to Wesley. Giles asks what happened to his face; Xander tells him he doesn't want to know. Giles, put off for the moment, gives Xander his birthday present a few hours early: a very nice crossbow. Xander is thrilled. He asks Giles, awkwardly, if he can leave the crossbow in the library or at Giles' place, because he doesn't want to lose it. Giles offers Xander a ride home, but Xander awkwardly declines, spewing some distracting chatter about how he has a paper to write and the library would be great for it.

Giles puts duffle bag + crossbow + black eye together and tells Xander he can sleep on Giles' sofa. Xander says okay, but just until he can get a job and get his own place. Giles shrugs, and tells him not to worry too much.
Which was pretty much exactly what I wrote. It worked great... for all the parts I actually outlined. The problem was that the outline for the ending read as follows:

SCENE: Seduction attempts. Failure. <-- not enough outline
SCENE: Utter misunderstanding. Giles walks out. <-- not enough outline
SCENE: Xander goes and finds him at the carousel. Confession. Smoochies interrupted by a vampire for comedic effect. <-- maybe enough outline
SCENE: Sex. <-- this was enough outline
SCENE: Buffy phone call tag. <-- this was enough outline

Plotting is hard. Plotting the major character change/revelation moment in advance would have been smart. Ugh. Next time I get the important stuff planned in advance, so I can know early that my first idea isn't going to work.

Things I dropped on the floor

The crossbow. It really ought to have been relevant in the last amusement park scene. But it was too much for me to manage in the last minute, and I punted.

Xander being thrown out of his house: Should have given the emotional consequences of that at least some nod.

Wesley and the alliance against him: Didn't use this as much as I might have. Probably should have downplayed it. But Wesley is useful as a demonstration of some more things that Giles and Xander have in common, Slayage things.
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Thanks for sharing this-- both the story itself, and the glimpse into how you went about it.

I must say at the outset that I'm with Mr. Pedia on the sex between non-canon pairings. And I really have a hard time with Giles giving in to an attraction for Xander, even if I can entertain the idea in principle.

But I really love Xander's coming to grips with his own sexuality, and the way he and Giles settle into living together and finding shared interests. And the repetitions at the end of each section "And that was how...." are very effective, and please my little pattern-loving soul.

I see now what you mean about the dialogue at the end-- I think you could stand to convert some of that into thought/ description, and leave out a lot more, trusting that the audience will "get it." But really, I admire your bravery to take a chance like that to convey some sensitive emotional stuff you obviously care deeply about. And I also think that it does not quite rise to the level of suckage you intimated the other night....

Them's my thoughts, for whatever they're worth. Well done.


ps-- my alterego above has been instructed to give you that glass in his hand, as a reward for your labors. But I'm not sure I trust him to do it. Let me know...
Hmmm, delicious!

My husband has heard this business about the death of the author, and has no truck with it. He considers the author's intentions sacrosanct, when we know them or can reasonably divine them. (I wonder how much of this comes from the fact that he was quite active in SF/F fandom in NYC, and knows many writers. I'll have to ask.)

I am somewhat uncomfortable with a still-in-high-school hookup, because the power imbalance is a bit too much for me. I can see many possible post-Chosen scenarios in which they get together. And I am truly fond of the story about the aimless 4th season Giles and Xander finding something to do together. (Anything that gets Xander away from Anya. I have read stories that make Anya a character I can like, but canon Anya... I'm afraid I tolerate her at best. One-joke samba. Xander was right to flee.)

But that was the request, and I was okay with writing that. I love the third season immensely, and late third season Giles quite ridiculously.

I was in despair about the story last night. And I completely rewrote the argument and reconciliation scenes this morning, and turned them around. Before, Xander said hurtful things and Giles went off disconsolate. I think it works better with Xander snapping and Giles keeping his cool.