Hey, Where's the Romance Gone? Writing Giles Genfic
written by Ruth

Fanfic is wish-fulfilment, right? A chance to pair your onscreen honey with the partner of your choice, right? In the case of Giles, to shower this canonically criminally deprived character with the affection, appreciation and lusty bedroom action which is his due, right?

Er, not necessarily. 'Shipper' fic of various kinds may still be in the overwhelming majority for Giles, as for virtually all the other characters (well, maybe not Principal SnyderÖ). But if you want to go further than a pleasant daydream, no matter how well-penned or emotionally satisfying, how about genfic? In other words, stories where it's not about "how Giles and X get together and/or what happens after they do".

Giles lends himself to genfic extremely easily. He has a ton of personal and family history that has been hinted at on the show but rarely explored in any depth. He is not a man who shows his emotions or thought processes easily or openly onscreen, leaving a lot of scope for "missing scenes" and character studies at pivotal moments where he has not been the centre of the action, but could be expected to be deeply affected by the outcome. Post-Belonging Pt 2, for example, or The Gift. He has a future post-Chosen which, it is strongly hinted, may have begun to take him in a quite different geographical, and possibly personal, direction to the rest of the Scooby Gang.

He is highly intelligent, occasionally ruthless, strongly motivated to "protect this sorry world", and belonged for decades to an ancient, secretive and worldwide organisation devoted to the same cause. Despite what Buffy may like to think, the likelihood is that the Council of Watchers was always about more than the Slayers and Potentials. Magicks, underworld conspiracies, alchemy, mythology: Giles has very likely touched upon them all, and all are fruitful fodder for a well-plotted and exciting genfic, whether woven into the fabric of the Buffyverse events as we have known them, or existing in the same world as, but parallel to those events. "What was Giles up to in England during season 6?" admits of a huge variety of different answers , and potentially gives you a whole world to play in, if you decide he didn't necessarily stay in that 'flat in Bath' the whole time.

So: you've decided you might want to give it a go. To send Giles on an adventure all his own, without worrying about who he ends up marrying and/or making babies with and/or being tied up with silk scarves by. But you want people to read your fic, and you're worried that if there's no sex, or at least no lovey-dovies, they won't be interested.

OK, first the not-so-good news. It is likely that you won't get quite so much feedback, and we have to admit it, feedback is jolly nice, isnít it (why yes, my Britishness *is* showing J)? I've had twenty emails of enthusiasm over a cute ship fic which took a week to churn out, and barely a handful over the carefully plotted, months-in-the-making genfic of which I'm proudest.

And yet. Folk who read and respond to genfic are often the most insightful, detailed and encouraging readers and feed backers of all. They focus on the characterisation, the quality of the writing; they care and think often in surprising and gratifying depth about narration and the story. Personally, I've found the same to be true of writers of genfic. That's not to say shippers never care about those things, of course. They do. But a shipping payoff is easier to deliver, I would say. Genfic will make you work for your, and the readers', payoff. But when it works, it *really* works, and chances are, you will grow and improve as a writer if you try it, and that is, hopefully, something toward which we all strive.

Plot. You must have one. Even if itís a simple: "Giles sits and thinks through the events of Tabula Rasa and decides to magic himself up a bunny fur coat." A single-scene fic still needs a reason to be, a beginning, middle and a conclusion Ė however 'open' or unresolved you choose that conclusion to be. A multi-part adventure across five continents needs all those in spades. I recommend writing it all down, even so far as scene by scene if you can, to see if it makes sense as a whole. Good beta readers can spot plot holes, but you know really, they shouldn't have to.

Characterisation. Would Giles *really* run off to join the Circus? (Donkey from Shrek voice: really really?) Be honest with yourself. If you can't see ASH in the red nose and big shoes no matter how hard you try, think again. If you canít hear his voice (sigh) saying your dialogue, recast it until you can. A word about Giles' Britishness, if I may. If you can find a beta reader who is a native of our green and pleasant land, you will be doing yourself a big favour, just as we Brits need a helping hand to write Buffy et alia Americanos. If you really can't (don't believe you, sorry J), please use one of the helpful online style guides (see Resources elsewhere on this site) to avoid such elementary mistakes such as Giles announcing he is 'writing the Council to complain about the quality of Watcher's Council HQ toilet paper' (it's 'writing *to* the Council') and saying 'sure' and 'gotten' as a matter of course. Yes, he may have picked up one or two phrases during his five-and-a-few-bits years in the States. However, when he arrived he was already over forty, and one's speech patterns are pretty well set by then, by and large. Plus, he thinks you're all bloody colonials, so perish the thought. Remember the face he made at Gwendolyn Post (Mrs)'s heinous suggestion that he might have become 'a bit too American'? Giles is a cultural snob. Deal with it.

Narration. You can have *so much* fun with this one. Visualise the scene. Make your readers see it in their minds' eye. Use telling little details Ė sounds, objects, smells, gestures - to show what's going on and how the characters feel about it. Carry the readers along with the action and now and then BAM! Surprise them with a plot twist or sudden turn of events. Donít forget humour, so often, at least in the first five seasons of the show, effectively used to release tension, illuminate relationships or just get a quick laugh. Indeed, fic which is purely humorous is usually genfic in and of itself and worth having a try at. Comedy can be tricky, but oh so satisfying when you get a "put a beverage warning on it" concrit.

Now. Go out and commit genfic.

Dare you.

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