The Darker Side of Sunnydale

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Archive
Name: The Darker Side of Sunnydale
Date(s): c. 2000 – late 2016 or early 2017 (last updated 2002)
Archivist: Ames
Founder: Ames
Type: mainly darkfic
Fandom: Angel the Series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
URL: http://www.tdsos.com/darkerside/ (offline), Wayback Link
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The Darker Side of Sunnydale (TDSoS) is a medium-sized archive for Buffyverse fanfiction founded in around 2000 and last updated in January 2002.

It is a selective, invitation-only archive for stories with a darker flavour, which aimed to showcase some of the best writing in the fandom. The archivist is Ames, with the latest design by Rowan.

The site also hosted interviews with fans, a list of beta writers, an essay on how to write darkfic, and more.

Some Content

Who Was Archived There

The archive includes a little under a hundred stories, from 56 authors, including A. C. Chapin, Annie Sewell-Jennings, Flywoman, HonorH, Hth, Ins, James Walkswithwind, Jennifer-Oksana, Kita, Lar, M. Scott Eiland, Maayan, Melymbrosia, Puca Dentata, Rheanna, Rowan, Te and Yahtzee. The author pages include a review by the archivist of the author's writing and/or the individual stories archived.

The archivist describes the content:

These stories are the best that is out there. Some of them have won awards, some of them you'll recognize, and some of them are fresh off the press. And, as much as the writing is key, the writers are even more amazing.

One of the challenges of fanfiction is that the characters, setting, and backstory are already set up for you, and are well known. Your audience already knows who Buffy, Giles, Angel, and Spike are, and could probably write a five-page term paper with subtopics on each of the Slayerettes.

Each of the authors here, however, has looked a little deeper into the denizens of Sunnydale. Their writing is clear, evocative, and skilled. Each one of them deserves individual praise, not just for the works archived here, but for their entire oeuvre.

To that end, I've highlighted each particular author with his or her own page, and a little paragraph (maybe more, maybe less) where I try to explain just what spoke to me about their writing. I hope you enjoy your stay here, and please, send feedback to the authors! There is no better treat than finding a letter in your mailbox that says that your hard work was appreciated. (You know, that goes for life and archivists too!)

NOTE: While all of these stories have shadings of darkness, some are more violent and explicit than others. Please read at your own risk - all ratings, G to NC-17 are archived here. Also, spoilers run rampant on these pages, and aren't always clearly labelled. I've tried to point out the stories that are built around huge series events, but I can't guarantee that I haven't missed a few. [1]

Description and Selection Criteria

Ames describes her motivations for starting the archive:

...occasionally I would read a story that made me sit up, jump back, and blink in amazement. These were stories that had been loved, slaved over, Beta'd like a zillion times, reworked, rewritten, polished and honed to a state of near perfection. Characters were alive and true to canon, atmosphere was written with a deft hand, the comedy was comedic, the horror was horrifying, and the plots were intense and carefully crafted. Some of these I read in the Buffy universe. And somehow, somewhere, I got the idea to give them a home, someplace where I could point people to some really spectacular writing. I hope I've succeeded.[2]

On the contents:

These stories are the best that is out there. Some of them have won awards, some of them you'll recognize, and some of them are fresh off the press. And, as much as the writing is key, the writers are even more amazing. ...
Each of the authors here ... has looked a little deeper into the denizens of Sunnydale. Their writing is clear, evocative, and skilled. Each one of them deserves individual praise, not just for the works archived here, but for their entire oeuvre. ...
While all of these stories have shadings of darkness, some are more violent and explicit than others. Please read at your own risk - all ratings, G to NC-17 are archived here.[3]

On the selection criteria:

1. Obviously, darkness. By that I mean a new take on a character (i.e., "Wolfself"), an intriguing plot that takes the characters someplace different, like in "Essential Fragility", that ephemeral something that is angsty without falling into pathos. I want stories that show what the real life in Sunnydale might be like - the horror, the emotion, the underlying fear that must be there everyday. (Note: There's been a slight change in focus lately. Not all the stories here are "dark" - but they are all high-quality.)
2. Characterization is key. "Wolfself" and "The Brighter Cold Moon" are good examples of stories that depict a different side of a main character that we might not see on the show, but that can't be denied. In "Wolfself," Oz is written as pretty much of a sociopath, but still remains true to the show. Pretty amazing feat.
3. Grammar, grammar, grammar. I can't read something that has misspellings, poor punctuation, bad grammar, or where the writing is so bad that it completely destroys the plot.[2]

History

The site was founded before February 2000. It was redesigned several times, including in March and July 2000 and January 2001.[4][5] Ames writes about the blue-and-pink colour scheme of the latest version: I like pink. ... I had a previous version that was what I call "gloomy broody black" and had the visual quality of a fresh bruise. Ick. Also, I kind of grooved to the irony of dark stories housed in a confectionary candy home.[2]

The site moved to its own domain, tdsos.com, in March 2001. The archive was last updated in January 2002;[4][5] it remained online as of April 2012.

From the archivist in 2002:

The Darker Side of Sunnydale is now closed for updates. What you see won't change, be added to, or updated, but the site will remain.

Thanks for the links, the great e-mails, the interviews, and especially, the stories. I've enjoyed myself more than I can say, but it's time.

ames [6]

Affiliations

The Darker Side of Sunnydale was formerly the Dark Zone site of the BtVS Writers' Guild.[7] It is affiliated with the Undead Awards and sponsored their darkfic category.[5] The site is in several webrings, including Vampires in Valhalla, The Slayer Show Webring and Lore of the Slayer.

This section hosted an essay: Tips for Darkfic Writers: Tips, hints, random musings and a list of beta readers.

Reviews

The BtVS Writers' Guild describes the site as an Archive for some the best BtVS/A:tS fiction out there. Focus is mainly on DarkFic, but can include well-written character studies and lighter stories.[8] It is recommended by Espresso Addict, who describes its scope as non-fluffy BtVS fiction.[9]

Interviews:2000-2001

From the site:

I love fanfic authors. Without them, summer hiatus would be a cold and lonely place, with only my tapes to keep me company. (And I don't have a lot of those, believe me.) But, thanks to those who take the time, I can escape to fanfiction, to play a never-ending game of "what if". I got a lovely letter from Brad H. (now archived on TDSoS) who summed up in a few words exactly what it is about the writers here that makes them so special: "In my opinion the key element to quality fic - assuming that writing skills and imagination are a given - is a passion to tell the story in an evocative way. That passion is something all of your writers have in spades."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I stink at fanfic writing. I have no original ideas, the words do not flow from my pen, and I simply am not witty enough to capture the characters' voices. So, naturally, I'm intrigued by those who can write. In this section, I grill the authors mercilessly - what makes them tick? What inspired them to write the particular stories that I so love? Who do they read?

Hopefully, every month I'll have a new author highlighted on this page, for your enjoyment. As always, click on the link below to pry into the mind of a most talented and creative person... [10]

References

  1. Where The Stories Live... The Archives
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Darker Side of Sunnydale: It's Entirely Pointy... Why TDSoS? (accessed 26 April 2012)
  3. The Darker Side of Sunnydale: Where The Stories Live... The Archives (accessed 26 April 2012)
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Darker Side of Sunnydale: Old updates (accessed 26 April 2012)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Darker Side of Sunnydale: The Chatter in the Caf... What's New (accessed 26 April 2012)
  6. The Darker Side of Sunnydale
  7. The Darker Side of Sunnydale: Guilded Goodness (accessed 26 April 2012)
  8. BtVS Writers' Guild: Archives A-K (accessed 26 April 2012)
  9. Espresso Recommendations: Links (accessed 25 April 2012)
  10. The Scribes... Interviews With Fanfiction Writers