How a vampire show teaches good writing

I have long been an admirer of the writing on the Joss Whedon TV show, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. (Of course, watching all of those talented actors wasn’t exactly a hardship, either.) The writers on this show were especially good at creating witty and realistic dialogue through the clever use of words.

Often, great one-liners would be sprinkled here and there throughout an episode or a commonplace phrase would be given a funny and unexpected meaning when it appeared in the script. The episode “Halloween” (Season 2, Episode 6) is a classic example of an ordinary phrase being converted into something else.

In this episode, Buffy and her friends Willow and Xander are under a spell which causes them to switch personalities and become the costumes they have chosen to wear. Willow is turned into a ghost, Xander morphs into a soldier and Buffy assumes the personality of a ladylike and delicate 18th-century noblewoman. As a result, Buffy has a weaker personality and is not able to fight off vampires as usual.

Eventually, the spell is broken through the intervention of Buffy’s mentor and Watcher, Giles. At the time the spell is broken, Buffy and her friends are trapped in a warehouse fighting off a gang of vampires led by Spike and Spike is just about to deliver a decisive blow to Buffy. And then Buffy recovers from the spell and speaks a classic line to Spike (“Hi, honey, I’m home!”) as she assumes her normal personality and begins fighting back.

There are many television shows with great writers and great dialogue out there, but in my professional opinion, the writers of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” were exceptionally good at their jobs.


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