Doucheward. Tattward. Geekward. Shyward. Dickward. Fuckward. Frennyward. Bikeward. Scotchward. Bardward. Skittleward. Gayward. Pedoward. Cuffward. Marineward. BATward. Vladward. HIPSward. Priestward. Catholicward. Domward. Balticward. Whoreward. Beautiful Bastard. The Sugar Queen. Curseward. Chefward. Reboundward. Thrustward. Trustward. Logicward. Rich Kid. Resistward. SWCIFD. Youngward. Poetward. Flannelward. Authorward. Debussy_88. Eddie. Betaward. Humpward. Blindward. Deafward. Teddyward. Pinkieward. Stutterward. Sweaterward. Daddyward. Fallingward. Hoboward. And so on, and so on, and so on.
It’s enough to give a girl (and the occasional guy) a headache.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most of us fell a lot in love with Edward Cullen while reading The Twilight Saga. In fact he’s probably the reason that most of us started reading fanfiction in the first place. I’m no different. I felt unjustly robbed by the lack of sparkle peen in that meadow at the end of Eclipse, and I wanted some more Edward in my life, preferably sans pants. For the first few weeks, I guzzled down smutty vamp one-shots like it was my job.
But somewhere along the lines, things changed. I read Passion Fish, the now defunct all-human fic where Edward and Bella meet during a blindfolded kiss. I was a little confused because Edward wasn’t 107 and he wasn’t a virgin, but I read it nonetheless. And then I read
Meyer University. And then
Boycotts and Barfliesand
A rite of passageand
Only Human, and that was all it took. I was hooked on green-eyed, flushed-cheeked Edward.
I’m here today to sheepishly attempt to figure out the phenomenon that is all-human Edward. What makes us love him so much? Why do we choose to read/write about him, and what makes him so appealing?
Who says Edward can’t be a Swedish body-builder?
That really is the appeal of writing all-human Edward: he can really be whoever you want him to be.
Vampward is great, but he has a lot of restrictions. If you’re using SMeyer’s canon (for powers and the like), then you have to make sure that everything fits together. Even if you’re going for straight AU, it’s a lot harder to come up with a plausible, original story line while still appealing to your readers. Maybe it’s just me, but having written Vampward and AHward, I find Vampward much more difficult to write.
The only thing that's really consistent with AHward is his physical appearance: bronze hair, green eyes, tall, and generally lean and in good shape. Everything else is up to you. He might play piano, but he doesn't have to. He might hate 60's music (one of the most ridiculous traits of canon Edward, in my opinion), but he might love it. He can be Tupac's number one fan if you want him to be.
All human gives us the gift of variety. It also gives us the chance to write what we know. Do you work at a law firm and find yourself inspired by the cute new intern who is probably too young for you? You can channel that into a Lawyerward, like the one in
I Hate You, Kiss Meby stacybumblebee. Did you really love Sixteen Candles and can't get that last scene out of your head? Write a JakeRyanward like in
Seventeen Cakesby vanessarae.
There is also a certain amount of originality that can come into play with AHward. All human allows the writer to flex his/her original fiction muscles without having to actually write original fiction. You can take the parameters set by SMeyer and then let your imagination run wild. I've written a horny teenager, a loner suffering from mental illness, a bitter ex-piano player, a father fighting for a doll for his daughter, and a few others; and my Edwards are just a glimpse into what is out there as far as all human fics.
As a reader, AHward has the same appeal that he does for writers. Everyone gets tired of vampires eventually, even if only slightly, and the human genre lets us keep loving on Edward while reading something a little different.
A rose by any other name does not smell as sweet.
Ah… but that’s the thing, isn’t it?
His name is Edward, and therefore we jump right on board.
This provides a lot of freedom for the all-human author. We can write a male character pretty much any way we want. Stick some bronze hair atop his head and give him green eyes, and we as a fandom are loving on him. Give him russet skin and a few more inches, and we are shaking our fists and cursing the author for making a Jacob who is only there to stand in the way of true love.
Now of course it’s not as simple as this. But us Edward enthusiasts are often a stubborn breed. I know it frustrates people when they try to recommend a non-canon fic to me, and I shoot it down simply because Bella is paired with someone else. I can’t help it. My devotion to Edward does not allow me to truly enjoy when his lady-love is loving on someone else. But take Jasper and give him the right hair color and name? Then I probably won’t have a problem with it.
In summary, when I asked people on twitter what makes a fic too out of character for them to read, one lovely reader answered, “There is no such thing as too out of character, as long as they have the right names.”
Keep that little tidbit in mind as I lamely segue into my next section.
How far is too far out of character?
Because of this sort of "personalization" of our own ideal fics, I couldn't come up with these on my own. So I asked some readers and authors what they thought made a story/character too out there for them to enjoy. I got back a ton of different answers, so I thought I'd just list a few of more common things here. A huge thank you to my friends on twitter for helping me out with this.
SOME READERS DO NOT LIKE:
- when Edward's behavior is not consistent with the canon
- excessively violent Edward
- when Edward and Bella aren't drawn to each other immediately
- a "shockingly stupid or mean" Edward
- Edward paired with someone he is related to by blood/family in canon
- poor (as in not wealthy) Edward
- Edward not paired with Bella
- possessive/psychotic Edward
- cheating Edward
- abusive Edward
- Edward on hard drugs
- unexplained out-of-character behavior
For example, I won't read stories where Edward and Bella are with other people unless it's really really well written slash (oh, and Bella cannot be in the story at all in order for me to enjoy it). I've enjoyed stories where Edward is a drug addict, and I think the poor Edward in
Legacyby autumndreamer is entirely endearing.
This is one of the best things about AHward. If you don't like one genre, there are tons of others out there for you to choose from.
Everybody knows that the ‘ward is the word.
He is that guy you hated in high school. The one who laughed with his friends when you drunkenly admitted he was cute at a party. The one in college who looked at you like you were the only girl in existence, then stopped talking to you once he got in your pants.
In fic he tends to fully claim his devastating good looks and uses them to play every girl in the tri-county area. Though frequently drunk, he magically evades STDs and teen pregnancy while sticking it to whoever will let him. And yet there is something about the Doucheward that makes us want to read about him again and again. Maybe it’s the joy of his redemption, maybe it’s the vicarious pleasure we feel watching Bella bring this tool to his knees, but he’s been one of the most popular ‘wards since the AH genre really took off.
There's not much more I can say, so I'll let a primo Doucheward explain it for me.
I Like You So Much Better When You're Nakedby marve and wish_girl:
And by Adonis, I mean me.
Damn it feels good to be a gangstah.
Some Douchewards for your consideration:
The Caged Birdby Kristen Nicole
Faking Itby spanglemaker9
This Edward is the anti-doucheward. He makes your heart hurt, because he’s just so sweet and doesn’t think he stands a chance. He’s often shy and nerdy, and may be really close with his parents. Sometimes he’s just geeky enough to give him a hard time picking up girls, but other times he is a complete loner without any friends or sense of purpose. Either way, we can’t help but find him completely endearing.
The object of his affection might be a Bella that is beautiful and well-liked, or she might be just as much of a loner as he is. We watch in heartfelt awe as the unlikely couple grows closer, and the Geekward slowly but surely gets his happily ever after. It’s every high school fantasy come to life.
Some Geekwards/Outcastwards for your consideration:
Bright Like the Sunby Dryler
Real Relationship: A Geeky Love Storyby booksforme
Boy in the Red Sweaterby starrynytex
Bad Boys and Book Nerdsby MPants
This is actually one of the few ‘wards that I have trouble getting on board with, mostly because I don’t really read non-canon pairings. But there’s definitely something about the idea of a PYT like Edward cozying up with an equally handsome dude. His partner is usually Jasper in fic, though he may also be Carlisle or some other person. The two (and sometimes three) meet and sparks fly, whether Edward and boy know they are gay or not. They can’t resist the chemistry and before they know it, the two (or three!) are making beautiful boy/boy music together.
Plus, there’s usually buttsecks. Some people are really into reading that.
Some Gaywards for your consideration (as recced by my friends):
Show Me a Garden That’s Bursting Into Lifeby atypical-swan
What I Failed to Realizeby Beautiful Figment
Begin Againby C-Me-Smile
After all the time, I can say without a doubt that Edward is my favorite character in the saga. Whether vamp or human, I can't help but have a soft spot for that pale sort-of-redhead. I think I'll probably be reading and writing different AHwards until I finally say goodbye to fanfiction at some point in the future.
If I had to pick one kind of AHward as my favorite, I would probably say Geekward/Outcastward, because I'm a sucker for good fluff and awkward boys. Plus that kind of angst just tears at my heart in the best way.
So I ask you, wonderful people who managed to get through this longass character exploration: