Good Intentions

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Fanfic by E. A. Smith.


Warning: The following may contain plot or ending details.

While attending a young writer's conference with Timothy O'Neill and Stacy Rowe, Daria Morgendorffer discovers that Stacy has a promising though undeveloped talent for writing. When Stacy asks her for help improving, Daria accedes, with the additional hope of weaning Stacy away from the Fashion Club and helping her become her own person. However, Daria finds that Stacy's writing habits differ greatly from her own, and convinced that her own way is the correct one, Daria rather harshly attempts to force Stacy to conform to her own methods, leading Stacy to abandon more and more of her own ideas along the way. When Jane confronts Daria with the hypocrisy of claiming to want to help Stacy develop her own individuality while forcing Stacy to conform to hers, Daria assures Jane that she has only Stacy's best interest at heart and that Stacy will have the confidence to develop as an individual once she has become a great writer. Eventually, after some debate, Jane manages to get Daria to agree to be more lenient with Stacy. After making an initial effort to be more tolerant, however, Daria eventually gives in to temptation and reduces Stacy to tears through biting sarcasm about her work. As Stacy runs away crying, Daria is confronted by Quinn, who tells her that she had hoped that this project with Daria would be a good thing for Stacy by getting her away from Sandi for a while, but that Daria is in fact no different than Sandi. After a night of nightmares and soul-searching, Daria repents of her behavior and gives Stacy all of her story notes, telling Stacy that she trusts her to write a great story without Daria's guidance. A few weeks later, Stacy's story is a hit with her classmates, and Daria and Jane take one final look back at the intended mission of mercy that became a debacle.


"Good Intentions" is E. A. Smith's only fully canon work, as it occurs late in the third season of the series and contains no out-of-canon elements. Despite its canon nature, the fic started out as a contribution to the Fandemonium thread at PPMB, a non-canon exercise. In this early incarnation, Daria and Stacy were working together on a Fandemonium fanfic, a situation that gave Smith an opportunity to poke some gentle fun at some of the fanfic-writing controversies in the Daria fandom community, though the main thrust was still Daria's dilemma with Stacy. When it was later considerably revamped and rewritten as a stand-alone fic, most of the mild satire was lost, allowing the story to focus almost exclusively on the Daria-Stacy dynamic. This also required Smith to create a completely new opening for the fic, as Daria and Stacy needed another reason to be working together. In the final version, about one-third of the fic is nearly a direct copy of the "Fandemonium" posts, while the remaining two-thirds is either completely new or extensively rewritten material.


This fic can be seen as part of the "Bitch Daria" genre, as Daria is portrayed as intolerant and narrow-minded, though unwittingly so.

The theme of the story can be summarized by the maxim referenced by Jane in the fic and from which the title was taken: "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." Daria's intentions are mostly noble, but her own rigidity and unwillingness to acknowledge the validity of the choices of others lead to her nearly destroying that which she intended to save—Stacy's individuality and sense of self-worth. In this way, the story examines how even the best of intentions can be undermined and subverted by a person's inherent flaws, and how this can be prevented only by a painful self-awareness of one's own hidden prejudices and action to overcome them. In other words, just wanting good is not enough; one must make sure that one is actually doing good.


"Good Intentions" can be found: