We went to a quiz last week in Cardiff. We had a great time and came a respectable third. It was a quiz about all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer and we found ourselves in a small-ish venue with standing room only, filled with people of all ages. It was the first time I’d found myself being one of the oldest in a group like that and I swear that the group of people sat next to us were likely only 2 or 3 years old when the program originally aired.

The quiz itself was the usual quiz shaped affair. There were two picture rounds where we all had to identify characters and the usual questions you’d expect in any type of this event but the thing that really set this evening apart from any others was an interactive round in the middle.

We were all given the task of creating a ‘Big Bad’ for a possible next TV season. We all had to think about how these monsters were going to be able to kill, any weaknesses, how it would attack and what it looked like. There was even a need to draw a picture.

I went for it. It was great fun trying to test myself in that short block of time to be able to create something which made sense with all of the strands that were out there within the set Buffy-verse.

When the reveal came, I panicked. I didn’t go first and was treated to several ‘jokey’ villains. Each person that took to the stage treated the rest of us to a short explanation of what they’d done until it was my turn.

I took at least ten minutes to run through what I’d put together and judging by the reactions from the crowd, it wasn’t too bad.

I’d had a great time reaching into someone else’s toy box and playing with their toys. The story of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had specific hand holds to grip so there wasn’t the usual free reign a writer may get to dive into the work and go wherever they want. I had to make sure that what I was writing was starting from a correct position and was obeying the rules of the universe I was writing into. I had to be more thoughtful about how the pieces I was picking up, fit together.

When we pick up someone else’s belongings, we have a duty to treat them with respect and not break them. Think about what it felt like when, as a child, another child broke something of yours. Not a good time. I couldn’t start making people do things that they wouldn’t have been doing up to now without immediately making the characters less believable. Those listening as I’d explained my ideas would have just closed their minds thinking that what I was saying wasn’t up to much.

There are novels aplenty which are written following on from an already established work. Buffy has stacks of novels written by all manner of authors. Star Wars and Star Trek have loads of stories out there and the number of Warhammer 40k books is always growing. All of these stories have to work within the matrix of rules that they start with. There are hard set routes the characters have to follow, how they should behave and if you deviate from it, bang goes the story.

They can make outlandish decisions which they’ve never done before, stories would just be the same without, but they can’t make too many of them and they can’t have them deviate too far from the norm. It’s all about making sure that they fit in.

I’ve written my own books with my own characters but I’d kind of enjoy making up something to fit into the worlds of characters I love. It was kind of fun reading to the crowd as well.

I wonder if someone will ever do something like that for my characters?

 

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