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Posted on 2012.04.08 at 02:21
Current Mood: determined
Tags: , , , , ,
So, trying to get my brain back into writing DUST, and something I just posted on another site made me think that this might possibly be helpful...

I love getting reviews. Please don't think I don't, but what I really love is discussing ideas and thoughts behind things and "why did you do this instead of that" or whatever. It really gets my brain juices pumping and makes me start thinking.

SO... to that end, I'm opening the floor for questions pertaining to my fic "DUST" (or even to "West of the Moon" if people would like to talk about that, too. It's all applicable). Or even questions about fandom, my thoughts on Buffy/Spike, favorite episodes, moments, whatever. If you ask, I promise to answer.

**Please note that I won't give away spoilers or plot for the rest of DUST. Sorry.


jacquieburbank at 2012-04-08 08:06 (UTC) (Link)
Question: Do you have a rough idea of how "Dust" is going to progress/how you are going to end it, or are you kind of waiting and seeing where your muse takes you?

Same question about the writing process for "West of the Moon".
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-08 15:31 (UTC) (Link)
I do have a rough outline for the rest of "DUST." My original idea for the story was kind of loose, initially. When I first started writing it I had a general idea of what was going on and where I wanted it to go, and then it grew in ways I hadn't imagined. I'm still sticking to the basic framework of that idea, but letting the characters explore the situation as fully as they need to. That's kind of the beauty of the spell: it will hold until it is broken, and until then they can do all kinds of neat things and get themselves into all sorts of trouble. :) But I have sketched out an outline of the rest of the story.

"West of the Moon" was much more tightly plotted. Obviously I was working with the fairy tale as my framework, and I also had to contend with the events of Season 5 that were not Glory related. I had a very specific timeline of what happened when and what needed to happen in between canon events that had to occur. That changed a little bit in Part III where I wasn't stuck to an established time line any longer, but I had a very specific idea of how the last part was going to play out, with the four winds, the escape, the return, and then the final build up to battle.
rebcake at 2012-04-08 08:08 (UTC) (Link)
Oh! I want to play. I'm not sure I have anything of significance to ask, though. I'm with you in enjoying talking about the ideas behind the story. I'm just...things are pretty satisfying as they are in the story so far.

I'm curious about how Spike actually worked his way into Sunnyhell. I'm interested to know what triggered Buffy's awakening. I'm curious why Spike didn't go back and hang in Oz' room, listening to records for a change of pace. I'm curious about the bugs being asleep. I am just curious to see where it will go, I guess.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-08 15:41 (UTC) (Link)
:) All things I wish I could talk about without giving stuff away!

Spike working his way into Sunnydale: Someone in a review actually has guessed this, but I won't say who or on what site. Just that they kind of nailed it and how it worked.

Buffy's awakening: :)

Why Spike doesn't go hang in Oz's room: He may actually have done that during Buffy's post-Xmas hibernation period. It just wasn't that important of a scene to show. Since then he's been pretty occupied with keeping a depressed Slayer moving and then shagging her into the concrete. I'm a big believer in writing scenes that are only really important to the development of the story/plot (I don't usually just throw stuff in there because it's fun.) That would have been a just for fun scene, I think. I actually have a scene that I cut from the chapter where Buffy ditches Spike in the high school that turned out to be more of a "for fun" scene, and it interrupted the flow of what I was trying to build. Eventually I may post it and a couple of other cut bits so people can get to read them. I really liked that scene: Spike, bored, stuck in the high school, goes looking for the principal's office and finds Buffy's school records ;)

The bugs are asleep because it wouldn't have made sense to put everything else asleep but leave them out. For one thing, if the birds were asleep, then the bugs would breed and breed and you'd end up with a plague of mosquitoes and cockroaches and stuff in Sunnydale. Which is kind of ick. And if the birds were awake, some of the carrion eaters (they live on the edge of a desert, so I assume there are vultures) might have started eating sleeping people. Easier to just put everything to sleep. :)
singedbylife at 2012-04-08 10:14 (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, lovely idea.

I have been reading another talented writer's dark fic lately (whichclothes) so I will just do a reread of Dust (and West of the Moon which was such a joy to read) and see if I can come up with anything intelligent. Am not a writer, though, so my mind doesn't work very originally. Anyway, will get back to you asap.
kerry_220 at 2012-04-08 13:32 (UTC) (Link)
Here"s an old warhorse for ya. General question...why soulless Spike? Big divide in the fandom.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-08 15:59 (UTC) (Link)
Why do I write soulless Spike? Because in some ways he's a more interesting character to write. There's major conflict there--he's evil, can Buffy love him? Can he learn to be good? Does he need a soul?

Take a step down from the big stuff though and even every day questions bring conflict. Getting breakfast, for Spike, brings conflict: to bite or not to bite? I love conflict. I think the best stories are the ones where characters struggle against both outside forces and themselves, and Soulless Spike has a LOT to struggle against.

It's fun to write a character that's evil, too. It's a nice way to contrast Buffy who is, basically, a good person. That's not to say that they both don't have their shades of gray. "DUST" really became a way for me to find all those gray areas between them. But Evil!Spike is a hoot. He's such fun to write because you CAN write him dark. He SHOULD be dark. It makes his journey toward the light so much more poignant and important if he comes from the darkest place imaginable. He's a vampire who wasn't forced into the light, he clawed his way there with his fingernails, kicking and screaming the whole time against himself, his own nature, and the situation that made him turn that direction. He fought his way into the light and then when he finally got there, when he suffered his way through the soul and the First's torture, and came out on the other side, he was able to stand there firmly and say "this is who I am, who I CHOOSE to be, take it or leave it." and give a two fingered salute to any who insisted otherwise.

I LOVE that about him. And I like to write stories that explore Spike at that turning point from dark to light. How I chose to resolve that journey sometimes changes: in "West" I took the "Buffy becomes his soul" route, because of the way I'd initially set him up as still having some metaphorical humanity clinging to him. It was playing a bit with canon, but it worked for that story.

In "DUST" I decided he was, simply, a vampire. There's no magical clinging humanity, or shreds of soul, or prophecies that make him anything but Spike. The only thing that is special about Spike is who he is and what we all know he's capable of becoming.

Something else that I don't think most people have noticed, but which I decided I needed to be careful about... in "West" Spike's humanity and his "demon" were in essence separate entities that shared a physical form, and which waged a constant struggle with each other. I've seen that done in fan fic a lot, and I thought it was an interesting concept, so I tried to explore it in "West".

In "DUST" I went the opposite route. At no point in canon that I could find does Spike or any other vampire refer to their "demon" as anything separate from themselves or their soul (should they have one)--(caveat: I haven't watched most of Angel and if Angel has ever made such a claim I will chalk it up to him loving to blame everything but himself). But as far as I was concerned with Spike, he is a single creature that is capable of great evil because he is soulless, is a demon, has spent over a century in bloodshed. BUT that demon was born of William, who was underneath a good man. That's the conflict. I'm very, very careful never to refer to Spike's demon as separate from himself.

How's "DUST" going to end when Spike is clearly soulless? I can't say yet. :) However, part of his character arc is always going to be that journey to the light and how he manages to come to live in it.
drknit at 2012-04-08 19:06 (UTC) (Link)
I'm loving "Dust." I love that there are so many things we don't know the answers to yet. The pace is fantastic. Really looking forward to how things develop and eventually end.

I suppose a question I have would be what kinds of research, if any, have you done (or are doing) for the story? I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that you may have read some of the show's transcripts or re-watched certain scenes to help with characterization (which seems flawless, btw). So I just wonder if there are other kinds of background work you've done for the story that might not be obvious to the reader. Same for "West of the Moon," actually. Any hidden labor that would be interesting for us to learn about?
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 01:01 (UTC) (Link)
I love research. The former librarian in me gets all geeky about it.

When I started writing DUST I did a lot of research on people who are trapped in small locations for extended periods of time. Astronauts stuck on space stations, for instance, or people working in science labs in the antarctic. There was also some research into random things, like hospital structures, punk bands through the decades, and behavior modification (for reasons which will eventually become clear). I did some extensive rewatching of certain episodes to get the details of various locations and things they talk about correct: The Espresso Pump, the house from "Helpless", the Master's lair, etc.

I did probably triple that amount of research when writing "West"--everything from rewatching episodes to the details of Victorian England, to the way New York city subways would have smelled on the night of the Blackout of '77, to the effects of hypothermia and various methods of avoiding it.

I love details and atmospherics. I love trying to make a place or time tangible.

One of the more fun things I researched for DUST was the footage of the 2000 Times Square New Years Eve ball drop. If you watch it, it's frame for frame what Buffy and Spike see.
moscow_watcher at 2012-04-08 21:01 (UTC) (Link)
I always meant to ask: did you have a single overall conceptual idea behind "Dust"? Like, a seasonal rewrite? An accelerated Spuffy journey - several weeks instead of several seasons? A clash of fairy tale set-up and realistic character development? Or all these ideas combined?

Or it was something else?
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 01:14 (UTC) (Link)
I think it was a bit of all of that, though I think the overall guiding principle was this: when I wrote "West" it was always meant to be a fairy tale. But as I wrote it, I grew a little ... Dissatisfied, I suppose, with that aspect of it. I felt like one of the beautiful things about the Buffy/Spike relationship is how Real it is. It is messy and complicated and the opposite of predestined and fairy tale soulmate crap.

When I started writing DUST ( which was partway into the time when I was writing "West", incidentally) it was initially so I could take a break form the first person mode (I don't typically write first person POV and it was somewhat limiting in terms of what I could do storytelling wise) and partially so I could write something messy and real and complicated.

DUST is my anti-fairy tale. It has all the trappings of one (Sleeping Beauty creeps me out), but then I turned it on its head and tried to work though the reality of that kind of situation. The frustration, the despair, the resentment, and conflict and depression... All things we saw on the show but explored with out diluting them with other characters or subplot.

One other guiding principle behind DUST: location is often tied to emotion and/or character arc. when Buffy is lost, she goes to Giles and Willow. Loneliness sends her to Xander. The depths of her depression take her to the worst places in Sunnydale: the Hellmouth, the Master's lair (over the Hellmouth). I have always felt that the third character in DUST, is the town itself.
coquinespike at 2012-04-08 22:46 (UTC) (Link)
Why is DUST called DUST? And why is it in caps? I've noticed several mentions of the actual physical dust that coats everything in the story, and I've wondered more than once if there's more to it than that, but then I also think I'm probably overanalyzing. Unless you can't answer due to spoilers, in which case I'm probably not ;-)
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 01:23 (UTC) (Link)
I knew the title before I even knew what the story was about. The all caps thing is mostly just aesthetics, like how LOST the television show was usually all caps. Though I didn't start watching that show until recently and the similarities in the title amuse me.

Part of the title idea came from the idea that with everything asleep and still, dust just naturally settles on things. Then there is vampire dust.

Eventually it became symbolic, more than anything else. For me, dust represents fear, and whenever I'm writing a scene where one or both characters are afraid of something, you'll see the word crop up. It is Buffy's fear of the spell never breaking, of time marching on without her. It is Spike's fear of being ended before he's done, of dancing too close to the sun.

Does it have any other meaning beyond that, in the plot sense? ... I'd say wait and see.
norwie2010 at 2012-04-09 01:05 (UTC) (Link)
I get that, wanting to discuss ideas and thoughts behind a fic - but i just can't stop drooling at the prospect of more DUST. ;-)

When you do another installment, i promise to come out of my lethargy and actually put my thoughts into words and onto your site.

As it is, i'm oddly curious about the spell which put this all into motion and, of course, and much more so, the journey(s) your heroes are on. (I mention this because while "plot" interests me, it is not one of my main concerns: That's why i can live happily with all the plot holes in Whedon's BtVS: As long as there is enough stuff to resonate i'm fine. Of course, it helps that i read a lot of "western" myths, Greek sagas, Elisabethan drama, German fairy tales that a lot of stuff resonates one way or the other regardless. :-))
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-10 00:00 (UTC) (Link)
Your question about the spell and singedbylife's question, after yours, were fairly similar. I ended up answering to the other comment, but to you I want to say thank you for continuing to read and support.

And this story actually has such an odd plot that sometimes it's hard for me to figure out where it'll end up next. Sometimes I feel like I'm playing the Sims and I've trapped two characters in a house and taken away the doors and I'm just waiting to see what they'll do next. :)
singedbylife at 2012-04-09 13:39 (UTC) (Link)
For me in order to fully enjoy a story I need the characters to be canon - sure they go off canon during the fic - but it just won't do if they do it too soon.

In DUST the characters most certainly stick to canon in a believable way and they ring absolutely true whick is a joy to read! In fact they are so true to the series' characters that - as I have stated in a review - I fail to see how Buffy will ever let herself become emotionally and romantically envolved with Spike besides the sex. I look forward to reading how you make her take that turn. Spike is getting there of course but we knew he would. He is Spike after all!

The plot is excellent and I wonder who or what is behind the spell and whether any actual time has gone by when the spell is finally broken or whether they have been in an alternate reality all the time.

I am quite intrigued about Tara being some kind of spiritual guide - and hope we will get more of that. I don't think Buffy will be able to change her ways without guidance.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 23:55 (UTC) (Link)
I am really glad you think the characters are true to canon. I'm a big believer in trying to stick as close to canon as possible. I hate reading stories where Buffy just .. isn't Buffy. It's funny but I think for most people she's much harder to write than Spike, which, considering the majority of fan fic authors are women either means that Spike is much closer to us, mentally, and it's easier for us to get into his head, or we just would prefer to be there. :) But I struggle with Buffy, and trying to keep her true to herself without pushing her to be either too bitchy, or too wibbly and falling in love with Spike.

This story is so much about THEM, about exploring them as characters and fleshing them out into real people... I don't want to short change either of them, and I really don't want to short change their relationship. As I stated to someone else's question above, I LOVE how messy and complicated and full of emotion their relationship is. I love that in canon they had to jump through flaming hoops and crawl through the pain and the mud and the mess of real life to even get to a place where they COULD be together. I knew I was going to be playing with the canon storyline, but I wanted to give them that, at least.

As to the rest of your comment, I can't really talk about what's behind the spell, although I will say there's some fairly big hints coming up in a few more chapters. Things will either start to make more, or less, sense soon.

And as for Tara... I adore Tara. I was sad initially that she wasn't even a character in the show when I chose to set this story, but because of the spell I've been able to work her in in a few ways. Actually... there may be a clue in that, too. ;)
wickedgillie at 2012-04-09 18:09 (UTC) (Link)
A lot of what I wanted to ask has already been asked (and answered to my satisfaction). Now, I don't expect an answer to this, but I've often wondered: is anyone else in town awake?
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 23:47 (UTC) (Link)
To the best of my knowledge, at this current time, the answer is no. No one else is awake.

spicy_vanilla91 at 2012-04-10 00:42 (UTC) (Link)

Questions, questions, questions :)

First of all, I'd like to apologize for being such a poor reviewer. I am a huge fan of your writing (I have read and reread all your Buffy Fanfiction and it is by far my favourite in existence out there), so clearly my liking your writing isn't the issue in me not reviewing more often. Actually, I have a lame reason for that, being that I mostly read fanfiction on my iPhone and typing out lengthy comments on a 2x3 inch screen is a total pain in the bum. Secondly, I'd like to apologize for any mistakes (gramatical or other) in my comment. French is my first language and though I consider myself to be a fluent English speaker and almost perfectly bilingual, I do calc a lot of my written structure on French syntax (often without me noticing it). Thirdly, I'd like to apologize if my questions repeat what others might have asked before, I simply haven't had a chance to read all the comments.

So here goes the actual questions, comments, etc. now that the ''warning'' part - of what could very well become an essay since it's so lengthy already - is done with.

First of all, I was wondering what precisely seems to be a struggle for you in writing the next parts of DUST. It is my favourite Buffy Fanfiction of yours (though I have a huge literary crush on West of the Moon, which I actually reread entirely this weekend because I was suffering a severe case of Buffy fanfiction withdrawal!!). I love how well you have crafted the characters in such a way that everything you make them go through is believable. I also love that you don't rush things as so many authors tend to do (and I do include myself in this, I have learnt your lesson about making characters suffer! It is very true and that much more entertaining when you don't get the goods to fast and it does allow the characters to stand on their own two literary legs instead of being simple copies of the original characters). So my question would be what exactly are you struggling with in the process of continuing DUST? From what I understood, you have a good idea of what you want the story to be like and how you want to end it so I was wondering if you were debatting options on whether Spike and Buffy should undergo X or Y events and situations. In any case, whichever your decisions will be regarding the story, I am sure I will very much enjoy reading it as the start of it is fantastic.

I was also wondering why you chose that specific time period to set DUST as opposed to the latter-installed West of the Moon. I believe I understand perhaps better your choice in West of the Moon - to me at least it seems clear that you wanted Spike and Buffy to be emotionally closer in West of the Moon so that their love would be born from trust, knowledge of the other, etc. DUST however is set basically a season earlier when Buffy still wants to kick Spike's ass out in the sun. I was wondering whether you chose the moment right after Harsh Light of Day for a specific reason (narratively speaking, I mean) or if it was just because you wanted to set up that Buffy hates and does not trust Spike at all. Is it because you want the feelings to develop in a different context than the one you proposed in West of the Moon? Or does it have to do with the spell itself and the future storyline?

I also wondered what that clue you dropped in Chapter 21 was. I keep wondering if perhaps they aren't in a different dimension or something of the sort as being the only two live beings alive in a town might very well be their own personal hell - though each for different reasons! I am guessing that there is a reason Spike was the only one to be able to wake her and the only being with a strong enough will to actually find Sunnydale with the spell hiding it (is it another kind of Don't Look Spell?). I am also guessing that perhaps only Buffy coming to terms with her feelings for Spike might lift the spell or at least show them the right way to lift said spell.

More to come. The limit won't allow me more than this haha!
spicy_vanilla91 at 2012-04-10 00:43 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

I find this story to be overall much darker than West of the Moon even though there haven't been any major character deaths so far. I was curious as to whom could have cast such a spell. My guess would be the PTBs would have something to do with it since the spell isn't entirely evil or good and that is basically the purpose and label of the PTBs. Will we soon get clues as to why, when, where, what regarding the spell? Is it an actual spell or is it something bigger?

I'd also be curious to know if the fact that everyone is pretty much frozen in a ''fairytale'' sleep has any effect on the outside world, on the characters themselves (do the ''sleepers'' age slower?), etc. Regarding the outside world, we of course got a clue through the New Year's Eve dropping of the ball in New York that Buffy and Spike watched on television (so basically i'm guessing everything is normal out there), but then again, wouldn't Angel be worried by now? or family members, friends, colleagues, etc. of the sleepers? Also, are there any effects for Buffy and Spike from not being under the spell? Are they physically affected in any way?

I would also like to ask why (again with the time lines!!) you chose to have a Spike that doesn't have a chip. Is it because you wanted it to be a real danger for Buffy so that they wouldn't really be dependant on the other in any other way because they're pretty much equals? Or is it because you didn't want Riley in the picture? What about Riley, actually? I cannot remember if he is mentioned anywhere and I know that by now Buffy doesn't really know much about him, but will the Initiative play a role in all this? I'm guessing that the time the spell took over cannot be a simple coincidence (roughly 3:14 in the morning is it not? :P). There has to be a link between that and room 314? Or maybe it's just my overactive brain that believes there has to be a reason behind every occurrence.

Random standalone question: is this story inspired or based upon any myth or fairytale? I very much enjoyed that from West of the Moon and am simply curious to see if it is the case here too. I won't ask you to tell me which story or myth it might be (if that is the case) because it would probably give away too much info regarding the ending and we wouldn't want that.

I would also be curious to know if you believe Buffy is mature enough emotionally by then to admit to feeling anything at all towards Spike. I like how very strong-willed you have made her in the sense that she cannot see beyond Spike's ''evilness and general lack of soul'' (even though I believe that the way the original character was made, it was hard to see how much a soul would change him - which it really didn't much iMO - because he is such a peculiar vampire to begin with). Also, regarding the slight changes you have made to the characters, I must say I appreciate them very much (such as Spike's intellect). I always thought whilst watching the show that they never did give enough credit to Spike as being an intelligent being (superiorly smart, in fact) and he was always depicted as being slightly goofy which, however charming it might have been, always struck me as odd because of his background, his life as a vampire, his general capacity to see things in relationships that others cannot see, etc. Therefore, the fact he'd have carefully laid plans but forget about them because he was bored (which is precisely what he tells Angel in one of the Angel episodes, I cannot remember which), surprised me. I know he is a very impulsive being, but he is also paradoxal in the sense that however impulsive his actions might be, they always come from some further thinking - which is something I can clearly see translated in the way you wrote him. All in all, thanks for making him even more bad ass and edgy a character than he ever was in the show (this was a weakness of the show, I thought, and think more and more every time I re-watch episodes).

Damn limit.
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