Once in a while, you write a great story. I know it doesn’t seem likely, but it does happen. The plot is intricate, the setting spectacular, and the characters delicious. And I’m not just talking about the main character. This is a story you think could be told brilliantly from any angle. Yes, Hans the Fairy Butcher has the best story of all of them, and you’re glad you chose him— but Gertrude the Animal Rescue Professional is almost as good, and even that unnamed androgynous janitor (you lovingly call him/her/it The Janitor) could carry the plot with some entertaining flair. The side characters are wonderful. So just for fun, you imagine rewriting the book, perhaps in a short story or novella, the way those characters saw it.
Examples: Parallel Perspectives (a short story Howard Tayler wrote to follow his book Massively Parallel), Ender’s Shadow (book by Orson Scott Card mirroring Ender’s Game— probably my favorite version of this, and the longest one I’ve seen), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, s3e13 or something like that. While I enjoyed Parallel Perspectives, and Ender’s Shadow is brilliant, I’ll be focusing on the Buffy episode because that both inspired this post and did more work to be awesome than the other two combined.
In each of the three examples, the writers took a character who isn’t usually in the spotlight and followed them around through the plot of the story. In Parallel Perspectives, there were several characters, each getting a couple pages of comics. Ender’s Shadow got an entire book. Buffy didn’t even use the same plot as another episode, but created two separate plots: the one the episode ought to follow and the one it actually followed. Rather than treating Buffy as the main character and watching the characters figure out weirdness and then fight said weirdness, the episode follows Xander as he is ousted from the group for being simultaneously uncool and inept. We don’t know what happens in the Buffy plot, so we have no clue what’s going to happen in the Xander plot, and it’s all great fun. But the writers made it perfectly clear this story had to be told through Xander’s eyes. Why? Because Buffy’s plot was boring. Continue reading “The Walk-On’s Moment of Glory”