Let's talk for a minute about two of my favourite authors in the landscape: Tulipp and LipKandy. Well, OK, I'm going to write, and you're going to read, but we'll pretend this is a conversation.
Tulipp is the author of two fabulous works, Bread and Terra Firma. They're both available here on this site. Go, read them. Now. I'll wait.
Back? OK. Now, let's take them in the order that I discovered them.
I read Terra Firma when I was cruising through the fan fiction archives for the very first time. I mean it; very first time. I had never even been interested in fanfic, let alone writing or reading Buffy fanfic, but I was doing some research for an article, and I was Googling my little heart out, and I found this piece.
At its heart, it's a pretty simple concept; how does one bring Tara back (since Joss and Co. weren't going to)? And some of the elements are obvious...but if there are some out there who didn't follow directions, I won't spoil it for you. What flows from that simple concept is some of the most adept and clever writing I've seen, not just in fanfic but in all writing. The intrinsic "trueness" of the characters shines through. All that has gone before with those characters leads up to the actions that they take in the story. And while what comes before makes everything that happens clearer, it's not necessary to know what has come before. You can change all of the names, and they still act like people, they still make sense, and that's exceptionally rare in fan fiction...and is a mark of good writing.
And the epigrams, oh, the epigrams! Perfect little bite-size morsels of feeling to put you in the right mood for the rest of the chapter. Tulipp has an absolute gift for epigrams.
And just when you thought it couldn't get any better...Bread. The capstone of this piece is, of course, the epigram, but it's really the buttery-good crust on a delicious loaf of a story (sorry, couldn't help myself). How does one end the show, if the show were ended with "The Gift"? What little epilogue is needed, would fit, were that the last of the story? And that's what Bread is, an epilogue. One small denouement for five seasons of climax. Done brilliantly and masterfully in a style reminiscent of movies like Memento and books like In the Name of the Rose, through flashes, flashbacks, we see this excellent story of healing and love and family move through the summer, into the harvest season of lives made new by love.
Bread is the work that inspired me to write my own fanfic. I suppose it was hubris, of a sort, but darned if I didn't want to try and write something that good!
As for LipKandy...I discovered these works somewhat later, getting inevitably drawn into the orbit of Buffy fanfic (you can't read just one...). The Tempus Fugit storyline, specifically, the S4 story, is great. Go, read them now. Again, I'll wait; I have time.
Back? Good. See what I mean? Brilliant. The S4 version of Tempus Fugit is a marvelous little work that plays with the time and space of the Buffy universe, rewarding those faithful viewers while not completely confusing anyone who hasn't seen every episode a dozen times. The character actions are so true and yet so different from the ways the writers of the show treated them, and it shows a lot of care and attention to the characters themselves.
The other versions of this story, Tempus Fugit and Tempus Fugit - Absolute Zero, are excellent works in their own right, taking the core mechanic and using it to establish a different story at a different point in the timeline. The warmth, love, and vibrancy of the relationships between the characters are palpable and delicious to read. And the lines!
"White is the colour of mourning in the East."
Wow. Holy Cow and Chicken, it's a great line. And, ultimately, a throwaway; the rest of the story goes haring off in a completely different direction, just leaving that one line floating in the mind's eye. If it were me, I'd've spent four thousand words and three scene changes just on that line alone, but LipKandy just...lets it hang, all on it's own. Bloody brilliant.
I await with growing impatience more works by these two authors, and I hope someday that I can aspire to write as well as they.