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Writing Believable Jossverse Fluff by Kaz

 

I hear you saying, “Believable Jossverse Fluff?  Is there such a thing?”  Yes, there is!  However, I have a few suggestions on how to write believable Jossverse fluff.

1) Always have proper characterization of the characters

For some of the characters, it is difficult to believe that they’d be fluffy at all, so you might immediately rule out writing a Darla fluff piece or a Mayor/Snyder fluff fic. 

For some of the darker characters, a fluff fic can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible!   Take Lilah for example: from the first sight of her, we were shown the hard ass lawyer.  But in Season 4 of Angel, we saw another side—a side that obviously cared for Wesley.  Just because she’s evil doesn’t mean she lacks feelings!  This is true for *all* the characters on both Buffy and Angel.  Regardless of what we’re shown, they’re still people (err … well, characters) and they all have emotions, some are just more evident than others.  Pick a fluffy scene (show the Mayor and his wife or Lilah watching Wesley sleep or Darla muses on her feelings for Drusilla) and explain the feelings behind the characters!

One way to make dark characters fluffy is to write a fic that has comedy leanings.  Perhaps Caleb’s day goes incredibly wrong—he’s a dark character, and you can still write him dark, but he can have a bad day just like anyone else (which can be very amusing and fluffy for the reader).  True, he might kill whomever displeases him, but if done properly, this can contribute to the overall fluffiness.

Just don’t sell the characters short in fluff fics.  Too often, they become blatant Mary Sues (or Marty Stus) and lose much of their resemblance to the original Jossverse character.  Remember all the characters have backgrounds where both good and bad things happened to them.  Don’t ignore canon if you can help it (it makes the story more believable) and keep the characters in character.  But also keep in mind, that love can make you do the wacky (though all fluff fics aren’t romantic fics, which I’ll get to in a moment.)

 

2)  Have a good, in-depth fluffy plot with the “right” ending

It isn’t as difficult as you think.  Just because it’s fluff doesn’t mean it’s all cute little bunnies and people in love having romantic, candlelit dinners.  Yes, fluff can mean those things, but fluff isn’t exclusively those things.  Fluff can have plot, a bit of drama, even a smidge of angst thrown in.  A good fluff fic is meant to take the reader’s mind off of reality and absorb them in your fic, creating feelings of fluffy happiness.  Happiness can coincide with hints and bits of the darker sides of Sunnydale. The trick is intermingling the fluffy bits with the drama and angst—and I’d recommend against making either full-blown in a fluff fic.  A hint is all you need.  Does Xander regret losing Cordelia in Season 3?  Well, you can show that, but then go on to have them get together!  That brings me to another point.

Good fluff inevitably has a happy ending --you can totally ruin a good fluff fic by not having a happy ending.  I’d advise against this unless you’re planning a sequel.  An angsty or depressing ending leaves a reader with very different feelings at the end of the fic.  By giving the readers an unhappy ending, you are no longer writing a fluff fic, you’re writing an angst fic.  By writing everything but the ending fluffy, it isn’t the happily-ever-after they were promised and I know from personal experience it’s shocking and upsetting if that’s what one was expecting.    That doesn’t mean the characters can’t hit a few bumps along the way.  So you want Fred and Gunn to live ride off into the sunset for an idyllic life?  Great!  But where would the interest in the story be if everything went smoothly from the beginning?  Have some setbacks—Wesley’s hurt feelings or a demon-of-the-week that gets in the way of their expressing their feelings.

 

3) Don’t want to write a long fic?  Try a vignette!

This is perhaps the one way Joss shows us fluff in the Buffyverse, through short vignettes during episodes.  Life on the Hellmouth is trying, but without these little fluffy scenes (the end of ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ and the similar scene in ‘ Chosen ’ come to mind), the characters would go nuts.  So do a Joss, show us a portion of what’s happening.  By writing only a scene of the overall story, you’re able to focus on the fluffy parts, rather than the angst-y or depressing parts.

 

4) Go with the tried and true romance

Of all the genres, romance is the most apt to be fluffy.  Why? Because everyone wants their favorite characters to get together and live happily ever after.  Yes, we all have slight Mary-Sue leanings in that regard since we all want to be happy.  Fluff has a tendency to become slightly clichéd, but clichés work so well in fluffy fics.  Have your chosen character sweep another character off his or her feet!  Have the roses, the candlelit dinners, the secret admirer or the knight in shining armor.  These types of fics generally work better with the lighter, happier characters (the Scoobies, the members of Angel Investigations) rather than the darker ones (the villains), but if done with proper characterization, any pairing is workable in a fluff fic.

 

5) Or eschew the well-trodden path and ignore the romance

Does a fluff fic have to be a pairing fic?  Absolutely not!  Fluff fics can be written about any character, any pairing.  For instance, writing a fic about Buffy’s feelings at the end of ‘Chosen’ could be very fluffy (provided some aspects of the show are put to one side—see my advice above on incorporating angst into a fluff fic).  Or Giles watching the Scoobies at Prom.  I’ve found the non-pairing fluff fic generally works better with a vignette than a long-drawn out series, however I have seen it done quite well.  In those instances, we generally focused on a happy person, who while having a few challenges, meets them head on. 

Or, should you not want to focus on one person, focus on a group—the Scoobies or Angel Investigations.  These fluff fics are usually friendship fics that focus on the growing bonds between the characters (think Buffy, Xander and Willow watching Bollywood movies).

In my opinion, the keys to writing believable fluff is threefold: 1) keep the characters in character,  2) incorporate hints of the darker emotions and aspects of life in Sunnydale/L.A. and 3) have a happy ending.  In doing so, you’ll have a dynamic, believable fic that gives a reader the warm fuzzies from reading it.