Friday, March 3, 2017

"If the apocalypse comes, beep me."

The Things I Carry with me: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Twenty years ago, on March 10th, 1997,  a little show about a girl chosen to fight vampires aired on
TV.  I was in high school at the time and already a fan of the movie that had proceeded it, so I was game for the show.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer became my weekly fix through high school and college. My roommates always thought it was strange that I programed my VCR to record it (wow, dating myself there).

Joss Whedon, creative genius behind Buffy and a million other awesome things, has been quoted as saying that Buffy was meant to be a cross between My So-Called Life and The X-Files. It was meant to be a monster-of-the-week format where the Scoobies would figure out what was attacking their high school/college.

That is the first thing that I carry with me even today as I write and as I absorb storytelling how-to's. Monsters on the outside should be suited to the monsters we have on the inside. Only when you defeat the monster inside can you defeat the monster outside. When Xander was feeling down about being single, up popped a monster who wanted to give boys the Kiss of Death. When the Scoobies found dissonance among them, a monster would pop up who was literally a combination of other monsters, then they would have to come together to fight. I carry this notion with me in everything I write- make the outside mirror the inside.

The other thing that Buffy showed me and I really carry with me is that every one needs to have their own voice. Buffy was the voice of our generation, because she was the VOICE of our generation. She had a lingo that wasn't like all the other things on TV.  I read somewhere once that Whedon and his crew would write the script and then process the lines through a Buffy-filter or a Willow-filter to make sure that the lines sounded like they belonged to the characters. It was a step that the show took that other people didn't take to make their characters sound like teenagers.

Listen to Buffy for years not only changed the way I talked, but that I also carry with me when I write.
Do I know enough about my character to inform how they would speak and describe things? Have I done enough character development that I know exactly what their catch phrase would be? Voice has become my own little soap box and I have Buffy to thank for that.

There are a million other ways that Buffy has shaped my creative side, but character-defined Monsters and Voice are the two that I seem to unpack from my knapsack more often than naught when I am ready to write about things that go bump in the night.

Until next time.

Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther


Jessica @ a GREAT read said...

Oh my! I can't believe the 10th anniversary is almost here! I came late to the Buffy game. First because the previews kind of freaked me out back then since I was just barely 10. It wasn't until I was 13 that I started becoming vampire obsessed. And I think I started watching the show religiously in season 5. Then backtracked with reruns to learn what I missed! I too would set my VCR to record at times for it! I remember during season 6 that I missed the ending! Along with Roswell's last few episodes!! It was tragic!! UPN which was sharing network space with WB moved or did something and I never knew how season 6 ended let alone that there was a season 7 until a year or two later when FX was playing reruns!! For some reason this memory always stands out to me when I think back on Buffy, because TRAGEDY!!!

I recently read a brief article detailing all the new 10th anniversary merchandise that will be coming out into the world! Hot Topic will have Buffy's long red leather coat! And there are these other books that look really cool! I have one book about demons and such from the show in my TBR pile that I still need to read! But I loved reading about how Buffy played a role in your life and your writing!

Helen Lowe said...

One of the things I love is that the story is still ongoing through the graphic novels, although it's never quite the same as the TV show.