Man vs Bookshelf

Man vs Bookshelf: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Scripts

This entry is part 31 of 104 in the series Man vs Bookshelf

Whenever I tell people I’m reading a script for a TV show or movie I get some sort of derisory response.

“Why don’t you just watch it?” asks my girlfriends.

“Shows weren’t meant for paper,” say my friends.

“What are you doing in here, I thought we changed the locks?” says my mother.

But I don’t care. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words have only the power to push me into a deep depression from which the only ways out are suicide or homicide, either way crying and screaming “why couldn’t you just love me?” as I go about my business.

Or both.

The reason I own a few scripts from my favourite shows and also Peep Show is more for educational purposes.

See, I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was six or seven, but since 12 I’ve also wanted to write for TV, or a movie.

As with novel writing, the best way to improve your craft is to absorb the best work out there. Stuff you admire. Watching TV helps, but seeing the dialogue and stage directions on the page is the best way to improve your craft.

So, over the years, I’ve read many different scripts. Finding them online, reading them on the brilliant BBC Writers Room and buying them.

Now I’m delighted to share with you my thoughts on some scripts from one of the Greatest TV series of all time…

Joss Whedon and Me

I was halfway through writing my thoughts on Buffy when I realised I’d missed this bit.

How embarrassing.

Like most people, my knowledge of Joss Whedon was born of Buffy.

That makes sense. Before Buffy, although he had been involved in some amazing projects such as Toy Story (for which he won a shared Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay) and Twister and some not so amazing ones such as Waterworld and Alien Ressurection, he had never really been front and centre of anything.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, beginning in 1997, was all his, and was made better by the fact he had preceded it with a movie version in 1992.

Whedon was unhappy with the film. A too many cooks spoiled the broth situation, but I guess it allowed him to hone what he wanted to do and helped make the TV series so fantastic.

Whedon is my favourite writer, certainly for screen (pipping Stephen Moffat to the crown)

I won’t go too much into why, as it’ll be covered below.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season One, complete; Season Two, episodes 1-17

How do you even review a script book?

Do I review the stories, like I do with novels, or is that tantamount to reviewing the TV show itself?

Because that seems wrong.

It is a brilliant TV series though.

I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone who watched it and didn’t like it (although plenty of people refuse to give it a go).

The reason for the love is obvious. Aside from the horror elements of vampires and demon’s and whatnot, it’s a show filled with brilliant and believable characters who do all the things you might expect real people to do in the situations into which they are thrown.

What Joss Whedon and co. do with Buffy is create a show that looks at real teenage problems through the lens of demons and magic. A pushy mother wanting to relive her glory days becomes a witch and swaps bodies with said daughter. A girl who feels invisible becomes invisible. The too old boyfriend is a 250-year-old vampire.

Of course, all shows and books with fantasy elements should look at real problems. That’s what tends to make the good ones so successful. But Whedon does it better than anyone else I know.

Sticking to the scripts, everything that makes this show so amazing is here (as you might expect).

Buffy’s great strength is its dialogue. It’s real (if you ignore the lack of swearing), constantly funny and also inventive.

Whedon makes up a load of words (like a modern Shakespear) but you’re never in any doubt what they mean. They fit the context. They feel like they should be real words.

The humour of the show even seeps into the stage directions, with the writers having a bit of fun such as “the extras nod, because they’re extras.”

There’s not much to say here. I’m not going to convince you to buy these scripts, I suppose unless you would like them for educational purposes.

If you are interested in writing a script, I’d say these are excellent tools for helping learn the craft.

Even if you’re not planning to write a show about teenagers fighting the apocalypse. Such dialogue is transferable and there is always something to be learned here.

If you’re not a scriptwriter, don’t bother buying these, just go and watch the show!

Although it’s not on Netflix or Amazon Prime so… maybe wait a bit on that until it is.

Next Time

As one review ends, another begins.

With Buffy out of the way I turned to a book I hadn’t read for a long time, but one that is famous the world over.

It’s that epic children’s fantasy, The Hobbit.


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International worst-selling author Mark Ayre has been writing since before he could pick up a pen (somehow). An author of mystery and suspense novels including the James Perry Series of mysteries.

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