Go in Swinging

Perhaps in counterbalance to Gilmore Girl mania, what I’m watching these days is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don’t have HD TV or cable, for those wondering why I never catch these things in season, and for someone trying to write stand-alone stories it’s far more satisf–I mean educational to watch an entire season at once instead of waiting in suspense for the next installment.

A great deal has been said about Buffy, during the show’s run and since other flavors of vampire have arrived. She’s a teenager marked by destiny to battle the forces of evil. I don’t really understand what this has gotten her besides a clear sense of higher purpose: she doesn’t have super powers, for example, but a training regimen. She’s not at all invincible and she isn’t even particularly smart, saying in more than one situation that she doesn’t know what’s going on so she’ll just go in swinging.

As the seasons progress, Buffy’s isolation is highlighted. She can’t be frank with her mother about her frequent absences and injuries without revealing the secret. She wants friends, needs friends to help her foil various demon plans, but those attachments are vulnerabilities that are used against her (and contrast how she doesn’t fit in). She’s like Frodo Baggins at the end of the Lord of the Rings: the world has been saved, but she can’t segue back to the world of dances and ball games and homework.

Ironically, living among the immortal and in almost completely martial storylines, passions are heightened. Many episodes have plots along the lines of “make merry tonight, for tomorrow we die.” They don’t hinge on finding information or implementing strategy but on a spell taking effect, the moon becoming full, the demon regaining strength after being reanimated. With the attack inevitable, Buffy must act as well–no standing around waiting for reinforcements, researching the perfect approach, building just the right weapon.

In past brushes with Buffy, I think what appealed to me was her commitment to sticking to her mission in the face of doom. This time around, though, National Novel Writing Month approaches, and my take-home message is the “Charge! Full speed ahead!” part of her story. I may not have the perfect weapon or plan, but once I engage the battle I’ll figure out how to proceed. After all, this is my destiny, I’ve been training for years, and I didn’t want to go to the prom anyway.


Published by annmariegamble

Ann Marie Gamble has been putting pen to paper since her mom made her scrub the crayon off the stairwell walls (one chapter per step). Although there is plenty of inspiration to be had in the carpool lane, she likes writing her way across the galaxy as well as across town, and she especially enjoys research missions (aka family vacations) when she and the boys can get away. Her favorite place to write is a room with a view and a pot of tea.

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