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The Powers That Be and The Senior Partners: What I Learned From Watching Angel

Sooo... I'm still kind of hung up on Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But today I just had a revelation. If you've ever watched Angel you know about the Powers that Be and The Senior Partners. I mean seriously the guys on Angel talk about them all. The. Time. Wolfram and Hart may have been the ongoing Big Bads throughout Angel but they were just the puppets. The Senior Partners were the real deal, the ones pulling the strings. And if you haven't watched Angel and have no idea what the heck I'm talking about let me give you a quick summary. No spoilers or anything.

The Powers That Be were what I would call the Fates of Angel. They sort of helped guide Angel and his team. They were the good guys for the most part. The Senior Partners were what Wolfram and Hart called the Big Bads they worked for. They were the guiding force of Wolfram and Hart (which is an evil law firm... yeah...). The Senior Partners also sought to control Angel. Why? Maybe I missed something but they never really specified that. Why was there a prophecy about Angel? What was so great about him other than he's a vampire with a soul? By the end of the show there are two of those! So he's nothing too special by the last season.

Anyways I just realized how genius Joss Whedon was. He was - and is - such a genius that he threw a bunch of random variables into his stories and no one gave it a second thought. The Powers that Be? The Senior Partners? He never actually showed or told us what or who they are! Where they even live? What do they even do? What's their big interest in Angel? What the heck is going on in this entire show?! And yet he has a cult following despite the many "plot holes" in not only Angel but Buffy as well. But let me ask you something: are they plot holes? Are they really huge gaping holes in the plot? Some may say yes but I say, well yeah some of them are but they all have a reason. Most writers can't pull that off. Frankly I love my backstory. I love explaining why my Big Bads do what they do. That's one of the reasons I love The Vampire Diaries. Every single one of their Big Bads have a rhyme and reason for their actions. But Joss's bad guys? Umm... not so much. I mean look at the Master in the first season of Buffy. That left me with one question: Whaaaat? What... what just happened? Why... huh? The Master literally was some random super old vampire guy who wanted kill the slayer and destroy the world. Why? I guess he was just that much of a bitter old man... And yet I scrambled to watch the next season! And don't even get me started on Jasmine from Angel. That whole season was a bunch of gibberish in terms of motivations and yet I loved it! It made pretty much zero sense and yet I was like man that was great! Joss Whedon is a genius writer! I love this show so much! But why? What about his shows just makes people just turn off their brains completely and forget about reality?
Because Joss Whedon and all of his shows are brilliant

I think it's the fact that he sold it. After watching Buffy and Angel and even Firefly you can see what a confidant writer he is. Or at least that's the impression I got. Joss didn't hold back. He didn't listen to the rules. He broke every. Single. One. Of. Them. He smashed them to pieces and rebuilt them from the ground up. He said you wanna give your vampire a soul not once, not twice but three times? Go for it! You wanna enslave the human race with a Big Bad that came out of nowhere? You do that! Oh, you wanna kill every beloved character in one season? You go and you do it! Buffy and Angel were his masterpieces and he didn't apologize for a single thing he wrote or did.

That is why Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have a cult following. Why writers still write pieces about the shows, analyze their plots and characters and dialogue. Why writers will still be writing and analyzing those movies for years to come. Because Joss did something that not many other writers have had the guts to. He broke rules. He broke stereotypes. He destroyed genre rules. He made it his own. His shows are wholly unique and original.

So what am I trying to get at here? Let your imagination run wild. Go crazy! Do that thing you've wanted to do this whole time but thought it would be random or weird. Put that Big Bad in your story even though you have no idea why or how or even who he/she is. Don't let yourself be tied down by writer rules. Don't let another writer or even an author tell you to always follow the rules. Yes each story is unique and some stories need that stability and those rules but books in genres like speculative fiction, fantasy and science fiction? They don't need that. They were made to break those rules.

Today I've been plotting my vampire/gypsy story and things were still pretty jumbled. The writing scene by scene is going well but the story as a whole is still kind of funky and off kilter. So I was thinking and thinking... and I realized why not try what Joss Whedon did? Why am I getting so freaky about having my bad guy have a motivation and a big sob story about how she became evil? I know the saying evil isn't born it's made but maybe this character was just born evil? And even if she wasn't do the readers really need to know what happened to her to make her so bad? Sometimes people just get those urges to destroy the world (yeah I'm looking at you soulless Angel). Maybe Devla will just be a Big Bad. A Big Scary Bad who wants what she wants and doesn't care who she hurts to get it. Maybe she'll be my book's Senior Partners or Powers That Be. Right now I have the feeling that this is what readers want right now. They want the unexplainable. They want the weird and the slightly disturbing. Just look at how wildly popular Stranger Things and Beyond is. What if the writers of books broke as many boundaries and rules as the writers of those shows? TV shows are huge and right now, sadly, I'm getting most of my creative fixes from those. But that's a whole other blog post for a whole other time.

So for this year and for this book that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write and I'm going to plot mildly and I'm going to let my characters take me where they take me. If they want an unexplainable, untouchable, unseeable Big Bad then that's what they'll get. If they want love at first sight? Then they'll get it. If they want strange, weird and unexplainable forces and magic and prophecies that seem to come out of nowhere then sure they can have it.
Yes, yes we are.

Don't be afraid to test yourself. Don't be afraid to break the rules. Look at Stranger Things, Beyond, Buffy, Angel, or Haven. They are and were wildly popular because they broke boundaries and did something different and exciting. Don't be afraid to let loose and have some fun with the creativity you have inside you.


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