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  • April-May Reviews

    Becaus this just makes things easier...

    Originally posted by ferdy-m View Post
    DUPLICATE (Reviews for April/May)

    Big Bad by Tangent

    PEN = 5.5
    PLOT = Zoom
    CLIPBOARD
    ZOOM

    HOT

    Review

    There's a lot of Spike in this fic and that makes it the hardest to judge. The Written Panel are only human (you thought we were steely-eyed professionals?, so sorry ...) and our response to Spike runs the same gamut of visceral dislike to fanboy or girl as every other jossverse forum.

    I'm going to clear away the naughty sweaty feelings Spike evinces in me personally - a cleansing process much helped by writing him into a standalone BW Season 8 eppy a year or two back - and review on the basis of the fic, not the main character in the fic.

    For somebody with a forum monicker like "tangent," he writes very clearly. This fic, with an intense Zoom back into the moment when Spike puts the Big Bad back on, reinforced by a graphically descriptive POV as Spike plunges singlemindedly back into the discarded past lying in the warren of Sunnydale High's basement - is convincing in its clarity.



    Motivation put in a sentence like that is going to make a lot of sense, whether the midget in a black duster is your cup of blood or not. The cry goes up, "but Spike's not much for self-reflection ..." Tell me about it, try getting under this character's skin for any length of time and he bolloxes you every which way, y'know? Unlike creeping prophylatic stones, chips and exploratory surgery, Spike rarely visits his own head. This fic doesn't make the mistake of creating a Spike any more self-aware inside his own head than he is outside his own head. Spike's thoughts here are a simple and single-minded drive to do what She needs.

    Without a self-aware narrator, or the cop-out of an all-seeing writer/narrator, the bulk of convincing the reader is given to the descriptive writing, and for me this does the job ...
    Turning on his heels he stormed from the room shrugging the coat on as he went; immediately feeling the return of the old defiant strut. Wearing this coat he felt like a warrior again. As if he were a knight encased in his favourite battle hardened armour. Spike might have only encased his body in thin, battered leather but his fear; his guilt and his remorse were all locked behind thick walls of black, tempered steel.

    As a character, Spike is the big swingy everyone wants to cut down to size - to do a Spike!Fic takes stones - been there, got the scars - in the end it's down to the writing. This writing has got the stones to convince me. There's endless thread-wanking on Spike's motivation and feelings at this much-debated point in the arc. Here in the Written, I'm as ready to be convinced by both sides - but it'll have to be as well written as this to convince. It's all in the writing.

    Some typos and grammatical slips, but on the other hand, somebody who can use a semi-colon without damaging themselves and near neighbours - as tangent does in several places - not penalizing heavily here
    Originally posted by ferdy-m View Post
    Questions and Answers by Dorian's Kitten

    PEN = 4.5/5
    PLOT = 4
    CLIPBOARD
    BUFFY
    PRO

    V. WARM

    Review

    Another submission with stones - hey we're thigh-deep in go-fer-it 'tude.

    Even as canon S8 rolls out yet another reprint of the first few issues of Joss's comic strip post-Chosen (and we HAVE to keep DK's spoiler warning), those with the stones and enthusiasm to fanfic the latest offering are turning up.

    So a CLIPBOARD from me. It's got all the BUFFYness in dialogue and descriptions together with an unfluffy approach to the Spuffy Returns storyline to ensure a PRO as well. To challenge His Jossness so quickly on the canon needs writing with rocks in, and this has got it.

    Had to mark down on plot, because for all the vicarious spin of "What if Spike and Buffy got together again," this is spuffy-without-plot. Which is much, much better than porn-without-plot. Which it's not - not PWP. But even it means messing with the current arcs, I'd support wrenching S8 around to get a much more convincing reason for Spike to be there than heated up S7. He's using Spike and Angel "sparingly" in S8 - as a writer he must have other reasons than which comicbook sponsor can play with which of his dollies, what are they and what would it take to change Joss's mind?

    So with welcoming support for going for a S8-based fic this quick (poetry ...) I'd like to see more innovation.
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  • #2
    Again, it makes it easier (and plus it wants me to write something in order to post)...

    Originally posted by Mabus View Post
    Big Bad by Tangent

    ROOM TEMP

    PEN=4
    PLOT=3
    ZOOM

    To be honest, fics that go over already-covered territory are not my cuppa. I generally prefer fics that break new ground. So as I read, I'm trying to ignore that impulse--or rather, keep it down to manageable levels, as we're all adults here and we all have our own well-developed preferences. On some level, my inner daemon is saying, "I've seen this! Why go over it again? Is there anything new to learn about Spike? About the situation? About the other Scoobies?"

    Spike is Spike--Tangent has him nailed down better than I have managed just yet. It's plain that Tangent knows his character inside and out. And I think he's right about Spike's responses to the new characters, as Jo said--how he reacts to Kennedy, and Wood. But there's something about the way in which he does this that rubs me the wrong way. Spike's motivations are absolutely clear, and that's good, but they're clear because Spike has a sort of internal monologue going on in which he constantly describes them. Is this Spike, too? Spike who plays the role of Big Bad, when somewhere inside he's William the Bloody Awful Poet? Well...could be. But I associate this degree of it more with characters like Andrew. Spike's been at it long enough, I think, that he does it less-consciously than this.

    There are some British- or Spike-isms in the fic, and like Kold I'm not entirely comfy with writing accents--but they're fairly sparingly-distributed. I do this sometimes when I need to give a sense of foreignness, or of a particular character, but don't know the accent all that well myself. It works for me.

    Here's what I get from this fic to answer those nagging questions--a sense that Spike is walking closer to the edge than I'd realized before. He's trying to ride the tiger without getting eaten. "Now I know the stakes I played for/Now I know what a wyrm's made for." The trouble is that I've seen it before, and seen it done better. This doesn't feel like Angel deciding he has to risk letting Angelus out, or good!Kirk taking bad!Kirk back into himself (when I first saw that). There's just too many words and not enough intensity.

    Originally posted by Mabus View Post
    Questions and Answers by Dorian's Kitten

    WARM

    PEN=5
    PLOT=4
    BUFFY

    This is a beast of a different color. It's all new. Or at least, it pretends to be.

    Dorian's Kitten, who is apparently new around here, writes with a simple clarity that Tangent's fic lacks (as I see it, anyway)--though part of that is the difference between external dialogue and internal monologue. He does have a few typos, mostly late in the piece as if he got a little tired.

    The details of the Scoobies' reactions are in character, as I see it. Xander is Xander, Dawn is Dawn, Buffy Buffy, and Spike Spike. Spike's voice is especially so--the turns of phrase, the slight hints of accent (though there are a few Spike-isms that seem missing here). Dawn...I'm not sure about her reaction to the Godzilla movie. But then, I've never been Godzilla-sized myself, so it's hard to say how she'd take it. Everyone's dealings with the new Slayers sound realistic, as well.

    But when it comes to the overall story...I don't buy this Spike, or (to a lesser extent), this Buffy. I don't find myself believing that Spike, having finally come all this way to see Buffy, can just walk away from her even if he thinks it's best. Angel would, but there's no line about how Spike's hair now goes straight up... Buffy, on the other hand, usually seems to find it difficult to let go of anyone. Angel had to decide to slip away from her; she changed her mind to run after Riley; she didn't want to leave Spike even though he was burning up in a collapsing cavern. Maybe she can let Spike go now--they've had some time apart, and he has just appeared for a brief time, a la "cookie dough" in Chosen--but I feel there should be more tension here.

    As someone else has said, bringing Spike back for a quick conversation seems a little more like self-indulgence than anything else. One last conversation--but no fighting, and this time Buffy admits she loves him! Yes, we all want our Spuffy or our Tillow or our Genny...but it's got to have a point, or it will leave all but fanatical shippers cold. What else happens in this fic? Precious little.

    All in all, I favor "Big Bad", even though I wasn't terribly thrilled with it.
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    • #3
      Again...to make it easier...

      Originally posted by Llywela
      Big Bad by tangent

      PEN ? 4
      PLOT ? 2

      Feel: Warm

      Review
      Formatting is much improved on the last entry ? far easier on the eye, although a few punctuation errors have still crept in.

      I like it. I like the feel of the piece ? it's been a long time since I watched any season 7, but this story puts me right back there, with the right players in all the right places. I like that Spike feels inclined to like Kennedy, and I like his background antipathy to Wood, and I enjoyed following his progression through the story, fleshing out the emotion behind a familiar scene.


      Questions and Answers by Dorian's Kitten

      PEN ? 4
      PLOT ? 2/3

      Feel: Warm

      Review
      Spelling and grammar are strong, but there's room for improvement ? a few errors have crept in, mostly punctuation. The POV shifts a couple of times, but always after a paragraph break ? I prefer after a section break, but at least it is possible to follow the switch this way, which is good.

      Characterisation?isn't quite there. And this is the drawback of the fic being set in the comic-verse, because I have no way of knowing if this is because of development I'm unaware of. However, based on my knowledge of the characters over 7 seasons of the show on air, this doesn't feel right. The story isn't as standalone as I'd like, and it's hard to judge how much is fic and how much refers to comic-book events. This is always going to be an issue with comic-verse fics. We really are going to have to write some kind of disclaimer. Meh. I did find myself sucked in by the story, though, wanting to know what was going on, wanting to know what would happen next and how it would end.

      Trouble is, it's a bit open-ended, really. It's a nice, reflective little story, but without much substance, especially if, like me, you're lacking the proper context in which to place it.


      As for FotM, I dunno. I liked tangent's story better - the characterisation felt realer - but how much of that was about understanding the context better? I'm not sure.

      Originally posted by Miss Edith
      Okay, here are miss edith's reviews that I culled from BW before it went down:

      Big Bad by tangent

      WARM

      PEN=4
      PLOT=2
      ZOOM

      Okay, this piece is generally well-written. Tangent's got some great diction going here, but grammar still leaves something to be desired. The mistakes aren't enough to interfere with comprehension, but they are enough to irritate someone like me (oh, the semicolon abuse!).

      Tangent clearly has a firm grip on Spike's character, but he seems to waver a bit on style, and I say this mainly referring to the dialect. Personally, I tend to only employ dialect in dialogue, but tangent shifts around a bit, especially in the beginning. Either use it or don't.

      I really like the way Spike looks at Kennedy and Wood, but his thoughts about the others seems a little off.
      Oh he'd tried to play nice with those damn Scoobies; tried to show them how much he?d changed. But not one of them listened, not one of them saw; not even the boy, the one who supposedly saw so bloody much. They were all so wrapped up in themselves that they hardly had time to recognise each others pain, let alone that of someone outside their cosy little club.
      Xander as "the one who sees" is a role viewed by Xander, Dawn, Caleb, and the audience?most of the characters, though, aren't watching him. Also, it doesn't seem like Spike has really been trying to make nice with the Scoobs. Just Buffy, and maybe Dawn.

      Overall, this is a good piece and a strong contender, but I don't think it's really FOTM material because a good zoom piece shows you something you didn't already know about the character or the moment. And this doesn't do that.

      Questions and Answers by Dorian's Kitten

      WARM
      PEN=4
      PLOT=4

      The prose is clean and simple, with very few mistakes. The characterization is pretty good, but Spike comes off as just a little bit too noble, a little bit too Angel with the leaving for her own good. And as for Spike's presence, well, I'm okay with departing from Ats canon, except that they don't mention it. I would like Dorian's Kitten to at least give us some idea of where Spike is coming from and why he is here in Scotland.

      Speaking of departures from canon...someone is not familiar enough with the season 8 canon, and I suspect it's DK. I haven't pored over their hallowed pages, but this just feels off. Why are Buffy and Dawn suddenly being civil? I liked the bit about them sharing a laugh, but what convinced Buffy to go talk to her sister in the first place? The bigger canonical issue though is with respect to the plot. In the beginning, it seemed to be taking place before Amy's attack, but then DK mentioned the attack of the living dead. So where are the repercussions? Apparently Willow's run off to the coven, but why? More importantly, why isn't Buffy thinking about that mysterious kiss?

      This is just a little thing, but I was surprised by Xander's thoughts about Willow and the coven. I would have pictured his imagination running towards lesbians and sexy magic.

      Overall, this is good but the plot/canon issues are a big problem for me. Spike's presence just doesn't seem to fit.

      As for FotM...I don't know. They're both good pieces, but I'm not sure either is FotM material.
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      • #4
        So what could go wrong did go wrong while I was doing this so I am so sorry for the wait on this guys. *is ready to be flogged*

        Okay so here is the actual Written Review, I hope that it isn't too short and that I did what you guys have done before me some justice.

        Big Bad - tangent

        PEN = 4.4
        PLOT = 2.75
        CLIPBOARD
        ZOOM
        Feel: WARM

        Doing a scene about an already done scene is quite a tricky thing to do; you have to re-write it so that the reader will want to stay tuned into it, why should they read it when they can just watch it? You have to captivate them and get the idea out of there head that this was already written, make them feel like it is not just the same scene but a whole nother level.

        Spike is an enigma within himself and The Panel recognized your skill of characterization with him. The internal monologue was a tricky way to go, especially with a character like Spike but you seem to have down pretty well and it feels like you really got into Spike's skin, the accent, the movement, pretty much Spike himself.

        Though that being said it does waver a bit, a well written piece will have the dialect only in the dialogue, it is better to not shift it around so like though this was mainly noticeable in the beginning.

        Spike was paired up with the right characters and it really felt like he would be drawn to them and it was a nice addition to the piece. It was a very great ZOOM piece and did bring the emotion we were looking for to the table.

        Though The Panel would like to say to you please ease up on the semi-colons in future entries, they are a useful tool but can easily be taken astray. Also, there were still some grammatical mistakes that could have been fixed up but nothing that takes away from the overall piece.


        Questions and Answers - Dorian's Kitten

        PEN = 4.4
        PLOT = 3.25
        CLIPBOARD
        BUFFY
        PRO
        Feel: WARM

        This was a unique piece on a Spuffy reunion and that in it self entails both good and bad. Though making it a play off of the comics did make it hard for some of our panelists to judge it properly, there were no marks off for doing it that way. The piece flowed elegantly and had simple clarity that makes a reader feel better while reading, and makes them want to continue rather than see jumbled words and run.

        A true BUFFY and PRO piece, the characters seemed themselves most of the time, though Xander's reaction about Willow with the coven seemed a little too conservative for him, and Buffy and Dawn's interaction seemed off seeing as they weren't really close in the comics though they seem to be fine here and it really doesn't go with the timeline given.

        The plot was a pretty transparent 'What it Spuffy reunited' that felt like a self indulgent piece more than anything, there was the question as to why Spike would come back after all this time, what would Joss have made happen for Spike to have reason to come back to see Buffy after what unfolded on Angel Season 5? It felt as if Spike was just pulling an Angel in this with him going all the way to Scotland just to walk away. It felt as if there was some missing tension, maybe that spark that was there is now gone.

        Though there were some pretty big PLOT errors, the writing itself helped make up for that. The Spuffy reunion itself was not a fluffy one, so that won some big PRO points there, not to mention already challenging Joss' canon was a pretty decisive move and done very skillfully.



        The Panel has come to agreement since both fics are FotM material and were entered on separate months that as thanks for the over abundance of patience you two have had with use you will both receive FotM awards for your respected month.
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        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you, Enders, good workmanlike reviews. I'm putting my hand up for a "Go" on this
          * supporting the WGA strikers *

          Comment


          • #6
            Yep, me too. Nice work, Joe.

            Who did we say would post results? The compiler, or me?

            I can't type properly this morning. Not fast, anyway - managed to slice my index finger open while walking to work. Don't ask me how, because I don't even know! I just looked down and saw blood. So...typing not so easy as usual.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Llywela View Post
              Yep, me too. Nice work, Joe.

              Who did we say would post results? The compiler, or me?

              I can't type properly this morning. Not fast, anyway - managed to slice my index finger open while walking to work. Don't ask me how, because I don't even know! I just looked down and saw blood. So...typing not so easy as usual.
              ow ... and OW! wading through it on screen quite happily, one thing. Having a non-typing finger is anotherd (d'you think the cardiff portal opened for a sec and you were in an apocalypse?)
              * supporting the WGA strikers *

              Comment


              • #8
                *practises typing without use of index finger*

                Hey, if I do this all day, I could get good at it! I would say that I think I'd notice an apocalypse, but on second thoughts I might easily not, since I tend to walk around in a world of my own

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Llywela View Post
                  *practises typing without use of index finger*

                  Hey, if I do this all day, I could get good at it! I would say that I think I'd notice an apocalypse, but on second thoughts I might easily not, since I tend to walk around in a world of my own
                  keep focused, Jo (ahem ... things happening, PEOPLE around, y'know ...)

                  ... typing with a few fingers is fine, it's only clenched-pro typesetters like meself that think you have to train up with tracey beaker teach-yerself-typing. I'm in a top-of-middle-finger-soreness scenario meself after fighting brambles. Gave up and tottered home covered with scratches and frustrashun in the end ...
                  * supporting the WGA strikers *

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    *makes mental note to keep eyes open for the duration*

                    So this is the day of sore fingers, then? Ouch.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      So...is everyone happy with the final result? Shall I make the announcement?

                      Because...damn, that involves getting my brain in gear about all those other things we said we were going to make public along with the actual result...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Llywela View Post
                        So...is everyone happy with the final result? Shall I make the announcement?

                        Because...damn, that involves getting my brain in gear about all those other things we said we were going to make public along with the actual result...
                        One person's happy - but if you want to pretend I didn't say it, that's OK!
                        * supporting the WGA strikers *

                        Comment

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