Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Did You Say?

Okay. I admit it. I am a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic—except for the last two seasons after she comes back from the dead. When will they learn? It didn’t work for Bobby on Dallas, it’s just not a good story twist! Sheesh! *sigh with a flip of bangs out of eyes* Now, as I was saying. I loves me some Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The characters. The humor. The kick-ass heroine. The monsters and magic…Angel.

And of course we can’t forget, uh, what’s his name? Um…it’s right on the tip of my tongue…oh yes. Angel.

So out of Buffy and what’s-his-name having sex for the first time and him ultimately losing his soul and finding out Oz was a werewolf and Zandar almost becoming the lover—and dinner—to a praying mantis aka his teacher, there is one episode that stands out in my mind.


Only one of the best and scariest episodes of the entire series. But it is also one of the most unique. Why? Forty minutes of the episode was in complete silence. No dialogue at all but the story was conveyed through body language, facial expressions and emotion.

Brief synopsis. The town of Sunnydale and its campus are terrorized by fairy tale ghouls called The Gentlemen. They steal everyone's voices so they are unable to scream as the skeletal men with their huge toothy grins and pristine black suits carve their beating hearts from their chests. Pretty freaky stuff. So Buffy and the gang must find a way to defeat them without using verbal communication. Classic moment: While discussing how to kill the knife-happy-but-oh-so-polite ghouls, Buffy emulates a stabbing motion by jerking her fist up and down but Giles, Zandar and Willow interpret it as something totally different…hee-hee! Get it? Get it? Fist pumping up and down...whew. Tough crowd.

Okey-dokey. So, in forty minutes of silence...

  • Riley and Buffy discovered the truth about each other's identity and kissed for the first time.
  • Zandar declared his feelings for Ana
  • Willow and Tara realized they other was a practicing witch and established the foundation for their girl on girl thing.
  • Giles discovered that blacker the berry sweeter the juice.

All this without one word.

As writers we rely heavily on dialogue. But we also balance it with the body language, the nonverbal expression. Describing whether the hero stalked, paced or sauntered across a room conveys without words whether he is aroused, worried or smug. If a heroine beams, smirks or grimaces we know without dialogue if she is happy, cynical or in pain. There are times when a character’s words are the opposite of what is felt. The words may be lies but the facial expression, gestures and sexual contact relay the truths. Some of my favorite loves scenes are when the hero and heroine express their love through their bodies when their hurt or pain won't allow them to verbalize it. It's at times like these when the nonverbal communication can be more powerful than verbal.

Hmm…see. I told my husband watching Buffy was research…


Jina Bacarr said...

Wonderful post, Naima, and very thought-provoking. It's so true about writing--we create a three-dimensional world (and sometimes a fourth dimension) on two-dimensional paper.

Such is the power of the pen...or should I say, keystroke!

Wynter Daniels said...

Good post. I will have to try to find that episode. I love shows/movies/books that stray outside the lines and take the medium to a whole new level.

Cara McKenna said...

Ooh, good post—and I'm a total Buffy virgin. I'm looking for good ensemble cast shows and movies though, as I'm juggling seven main characters in one of my WIPs. After watching Firefly, I can't imagine anyone juggles multiple main characters better than Joss Whedon. Thanks for the inspiration!

Ashlyn Chase said...

I love, love, loved Buffy. So sad it had to end. My favorite episode was with Dracula. Talk about non-verbal sexual tension! Wow!


Savannah Stuart said...

Love your post, Naima. I'll admit I watched some Buffy back in the day but I wasn't a die hard fan. Now I really wish I'd seen that episode. Very cool.

Naima Simone said...

Hi, Jina!
Hey, I like that! Three dimensional world on two dimensional paper...when I use that I'll make sure to give you the credit. Hee-hee!

Naima Simone said...

Hi, Wynter!
You would love this episode then. I looked it up and it is critically acclaimed because of the risk the producers took. I for one am glad they did. It's awesome! I remember years ago when I first saw it. At first I was like, WTF?? This is going to be whacked (that was the popular slang back then...) But I ended up riveted to that t.v.! Check it out! You won't be disappointed!

Naima Simone said...

Oh please check Buffy out!! The characters are all different but their interaction and chemistry is wonderful. And talk about sarcasm and wit! You--the purveyor all that is sarcastic--would love it!! LOL!

Naima Simone said...

Oooh Ash...oh yeeaaahh. HAWT!! I forgot about her and Dracula!! You know that almost rivaled her and Angel...well at least Dracula didn't terrorize, kill her mentor's girlfriend and then try to murder her...hee-hee!

Naima Simone said...

Hey, Savannah!
I'll hit you up the next time "Hush" comes on the Logo channel! I got you! LOL!
Just be prepared to be creeped out...I might make a convert out of you yet!!

Dalton Diaz said...

Sorry, ladies, but there is a 2nd Buffy Virgin among us.
Cara, we'll have to hold our heads high as we run for Netflix.

Jina Bacarr said...

Glad you like my thought about how we create our worlds! Plz feel free to quote me. Thankz.

Naima Simone said...

And Dalton we'll promise to refrain from casting stones and booing and hissing as you dash by! LOL!