My fellow screenwriters need no intro to JW, but for everyone else, Joss Whedon is the creator behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly, The Avengers, and many other works. Like any good hopeful writer, I “borrow” as much as I can from my favorites and made a list of the best in Whedon-themed writing inspiration below.

1. “You’re all going to die”

These were some of Joss’s first words to the 2013 graduating class of Wesleyan. It is also the foundation for the name of this blog. No matter what age I am, I will die one day. Whether that day is days or decades away, I want to die with as few of my stories inside me as possible. Even the bad ones shouldn’t go with me. Thus the inspiration to write – even if the muse is cheating on me with another writer.

The Takeaway – Write while you can!

2. “Why write strong women?”

In a 2006 speech for Equality Now, Joss Whedon addressed the question he was asked most, “why do you write strong women characters?” His answer in its entirety is certainly worth reading for both the humor and the truth, both inspiring and sad. The writing lesson? There is a void of strong women characters out there that is ripe for the filling. In fact, my personal philosophy is that if a certain character can be a woman, she should be. And most important of all is to remember that women are diverse with some lesser ones being shoe and/or man obsessed, but the best having a relatable agenda of her own. (See American Horror Story: Coven for recent examples by Tim Minear and co.)

The Takeaway – More women = More better writing! (grammar incorrect for emphasis)

3. “Make me feel something”

In 2006, a wobbly-kneed Lilia attended a screenwriting conference and was told there was only time for one or two more questions when she was three-deep in line. Declaring internally that nothing short of well-protected security could remove her, she stepped up to the microphone anyway, and in a tiny voice asked, “what do you look for in a writer?” The header is the short of his answer. The long of it was that whether he felt joy or sorrow, love or hate, as long as a writer could make him feel something, he was satisfied. He also shows it in his own writing by creating characters like Malcolm Reynolds whom you could admire when he sticks up for Kaylee as Jayne is being Jayne, yet hate when he does worse to Inarra.

The Takeaway – Even though it was years ago, I still remember hearing – and more importantly internalizing – Joss’s words even as I jotted them down while being “directed” back to my seat.

4. “I love genre because you can talk about things more intimately and specifically than you can in a family drama or a cop show”

While promoting “The Avengers” in a 2012 interview with “Wired,” Joss was quoted on his love of genre. Evident in his undertaking of everything from the aforementioned Hollywood blockbusters to Shakespeare and comic books about sci-fi rock groups, Joss not only redefines genres but creates them as he goes. To my knowledge, no writer in any venue has done this as extensively and as expertly as Joss, making him a delight for both fans and writers.

The Takeaway – Don’t know what genre your work falls into? It might be a blessing.

5. “Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.”

With no easy way to tell if I suck or not, I merely take away the “be yourself” part. I’ve noticed in both my for-fun reading and in my semi-incestuous-reading-for-colleagues, the best writing has the best voice. The best voices are those who strive to say as much as what they have to say. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be inspired by the works of your fav writers and apply their techniques, but be yourself when you do it.

The Takeaway – I could write about a vampire slayer or a spaceship full of misfits, I just have to write them as myself.

There are far many other lessons to be learned from the man himself, but these are the five that come to mind (more related posts to come soon!). For a good dose of Joss-isms, check out his page on Goodreads or visit Whedonesque with the latest info on and from the man.

If you’d like to see if and how well I’ve applied these writing inspirations, check out Ordinance 93, a novel in which a man and three strong women are the first to break a new law banning pregnancies without permission. It’s FREE of charge until March 13, 2014.

Ordinance 93 ThumbnailL. Fabry is the author of Ordinance 93, a novel set in a world where having a baby without permission is against the law and the first four people to break it. She also writes about everything from reaction injection molding to low fat recipes while indulging her need for creative outlets including novels and screenplays. Find out more on Twitter.

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