What I Learned from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I had an episode of flu, last year. The stare into space and moan kind of icky sick. So when I was not balancing at my desk chair trying to stay upright, I was flat on my back in bed, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns on my cell phone.

buffy gang

TVrage.com From Season 6 episode 7

Not very productive you say?

Oh, but I have learned some valuable lessons and I am going to share them with you so you can STAKE the Vamps in your own WIP.




Avoid stereotypes by creating your characters from polar extremes.


  • Tiny girly Buffy is the strongest force on the planet.
  • Nerdy sweet Wallflower Willow who crushes on Xander becomes evil dark Wicca Destroyer and a lesbian.
  • Librarian Stuffy British Mentor has a scathing past as a ruffian.
  • Vampire chases pretty young thing through graveyard, turns out the pretty young thing is the evil one.






To grab your audience’s empathy, take everything away from your protagonist.

“There is no story until someone loses something.” Steven James

Keep your audience involved by giving small victories along the way, then ripping something else from protagonist.

Through out the seven seasons, Buffy lost

      • popularity
      • Angel
      • her dad,
      • her mom
      • friends
      • life.





Build a world or culture that prevents messy traps.


  • Vampires turn into dust, they don’t have to bury bodies through the series.
  • Sunnydale residents are accustomed to weirdness because they live on the Hellmouth.
  • You don’t have to keep showing shock and dismay, that would get old and predictable.
  • Sometimes the best reactions to weird are weary sighs and rolled eyes.







The best humor is set up to be something expected, then the exact opposite happens.


  • Scaly scary monster turns out to be a softy.
  • Big bad Vampire is a mommy’s boy.
  • Beautiful teenage girl loathes nerd boy and they end up a couple.
  • Heroine performs super human fetes of strength, then whines over a chipped fingernail.







Use team building techniques to create a bond between your characters.


  • Put them in impossible situations and have them use their unique idiosyncrasies to get out of them.
  • Everyone gets to be a hero, not just the protagonist.
  • Let them react honestly with each other, then find their way back to the relationship.
  • Use prior experiences (phrases, comments, mistakes) in the story as references. Let the characters regale or dis’ each other over them.
  • Help each character find their place in the group. (The leader, the clown, the antagonist, the intellect, the caretaker.)


By driving these stakes deep into the heart of your Works in Progress you will slay the problems and shine the light on your story.


Okay, name your favorite vampire below and tell us why you are under his/her spell.


Pro Pic



I am LaDonna Cole, Countess of Four Doors Manor and I vant to vipe your vindows. Seriously, I have written some books and would love your feedback on them.


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7 Responses to What I Learned from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

  1. D.M. Kilgore says:

    Damon Salvatore. Why? “If you’re going to be bad, be bad with a purpose.”

    Does it get any better than a devastatingly handsome, bad boy, with a secret heart of gold, a past that makes you forgive all his naughty tendencies, who is fueled by the love, and has wit sharp as a razor’s edge? Not for me it doesn’t. LOL

    GREAT post LD. I’m putting this in my secret book of writing spells. =D

  2. J. S. Bailey says:

    Great post! I have never watched Buffy but I have enjoyed several vampire novels like Dracula and Interview with the Vampire. I guess Louis might be my favorite bloodsucker.

  3. LaDonna says:

    Yes, a handsome bloodsucker… :D

  4. Katie Cross says:

    I’ve never been very invested in the idea of Buffy, but after reading this, I may have to give her a shot.

    You really watched an entire season on your cell phone? My eyebrow lifts in surprise.

  5. Ash says:

    Probably Silver. Whom you don’t know because I stopped writing her story after the Twilight craze hit.
    She’s still grumpy with me.

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