As part of the ongoing "Why We Write" series (I linked to Damon's essay the other day), today's installment comes from Jane Espenson, former writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and current writer on Battlestar Galactica.
I had a lot of Barbie dolls when I was a kid. Close to a dozen, I think. I remember that I loved them, but looking back, I’m not sure why. I knew at the time, vaguely, that I was supposed to make up stories and act them out with the dolls, and I actually remember trying to do that, and failing. The problem was that I didn’t know these girls. I didn’t know their backgrounds, their quirks, what distinguished one from the other. I didn’t get the premise of how eleven identical ludicrously-shaped teenagers had met. But most of all, I didn’t know their voices.
Without that, I was uninspired.
The dolls I REALLY played with were the characters from M*A*S*H and Welcome Back Kotter and Barney Miller and The Odd Couple and The Love Boat and Starsky and Hutch. I would fall asleep making up stories for those shows in my head. But I was a brutal audience. I couldn’t enjoy the made-up stories if I couldn’t make myself believe them. And I couldn’t believe them if the voices weren’t right.
For the rest of her essay, go here.