For those unaware (& I’ll forgive you), Joss Whedon is a tv and film creator. Some of his better known works are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog, Dollhouse, the upcoming Avengers movie and a little down the track, the shot (and being edited) Much Ado About Nothing. He’s also known for working as a script doctor on many movie projects.
What is the appeal for me about his work? I’ve had to think long and hard about this (ever since Eleni asked me to write this post). Many around me would say it is Joss the man who I admire. I do. Absolutely. Going to the Opera House in Sydney last year to hear him in a Q&A session was part fangirl experience and part masterclass. The session was, like his commentaries, interviews and other Q&A’s about the how, where, why of his various shows. Interspersed with it is how he views writing and storytelling.
Many moons ago, I became hooked on Buffy (aired in Australia at 10.30pm on a Monday night, matching my then library shiftwork) to the point I ventured to the message boards. I was completely sucked into the character development and arcs, the way stories were told. And that is where the appeal is. The storytelling.
He is a master weaver of woe (and every other strong emotion). He is renowned for his ability to build up the emotion (pick one) and then rip the carpet right from under you. It is a well known fact rarely do his couples survive a happy ever after scenario (and yes, the irony of writing this for a romance-centric blog is not lost on me). Whatever he does (mostly) primarily serves the story. Doesn’t matter how much a scene is loved by the creator, if it doesn’t work. Kill it. Joss reveals this happened with the episode “Waiting in the Wings” in Angel (season 3).
Not only is it Joss himself who tells stories well. He has repeatedly assembled cast and crews, in particular writers (Jane Espenson, Doug Petrie, Drew Goddard, Ben Edlund to name a few) who understood the story was key. The beginnings of my own learning about writing came from these shows. Sure the actors, set designers and composers did great jobs but it was the writers who kept the boat on course, with Joss at the helm.
Confession time - I’m a late starter to toddling along this writing path. I didn’t think I was creative. A dear friend I met via the Buffy boards dared me to write a story challenge. I said nuh, wouldn’t last 6 sentences, she said, uh-huh and, well, 16,000 words later with original characters interspersed within the Buffyverse….