by Angel Jade
Wit, popularity, comic genius and the most articulate member of the scoobies. All this and he speaks less than any other main character. His lines are short, his meaning is powerful. So how do you create the essence that we’ve all come to know and love as Oz?
Xander describes him best in Season 3 ‘The Zeppo’, "you tend to express yourself in short, noncommittal phrases". That is exactly how Oz does express himself. And is the reason he’s a popular guy in school and such a fun character to watch. But writing him this way can be very difficult. How do you express so much in such a small sentence or two?
Oz and emotions
Oz shows very little emotion through out the series. In fact, two episodes
come to mind where we really see Oz lose that cool. When Oz returns to
Sunnydale, the control he’s built to hold back his werewolf self is
shattered when he learns Willow is in love with another. A season before
that, Oz becomes angry at the gang’s talk of leaving Willow in the arms of
the enemy after she has been kidnapped. This emotion is not expressed
through words, but through actions. Oz is a great communicator and can
convey a complex meaning just with a few words. But it’s rare to see him
express an emotion. And perhaps there are reasons unknown for why this is,
but what we do know is, when things get bad, he can express himself through
violence. Whether it’s on a small object or crossing over into the wolf side
of his self...it’s something you can work with. But these of course are only
the negative emotions. Oz shows great dedication and love to Willow through
the time he is with her and although he doesn’t show it to an extreme, it is
obvious by his actions and his words that there is love there. This kind of
positive emotion is shown, though perhaps not as much as any one else would.
But it doesn’t induce violence, a sudden change to werewolf or anything
special. It’s just there. And that is the distinction you need to make.
Jealousy, fear and anger, all over the girl he loves is all we know that
have made him show a noticeable amount of emotion. Whether you decide to use
that for Oz’s love for Giles or his love for Fred, the same will ring true.
That Oz’s emotions, if they become too powerful, are shown through actions.
Otherwise they are kept behind his cool exterior and hard-to-figure-out
Oz and the art of being cool
Oz (reading): "Dingoes Ate My Baby play their instruments as if they have
plump polish sausages taped to their fingers."
Freddy: "Sorry man."
Oz (shrugs): "No, it's fair."
He’s got a presence that most people would love to achieve at some point in
their life. Cool, calm, collected. He’s confident within himself and not at
all shy. Unless, of course, confronted by someone he has a crush on. Even
then, Oz is not the type of guy to hide. When he notices Willow, he can talk
with her, albeit quite nervously. He still manages to retain his cool
through out and of course, wins the girl. When meeting new people, he’s
polite and remains the same. He doesn’t put on an act and he doesn’t try and
impress anyone. (Season 1 Ats, ‘In the Dark’).
Oz and saying stupid things
While Xander, Willow...and most of the other characters we know, could easily
start babbling at any moment, it’s very rare to hear Oz stutter or say
anything without meaning. 99% of the time, he knows what he’s saying and he
says it in the shortest and clearest way possible, usually through a witty
comment using the same teen language we’ve seen from most of the cast
seasons 1-3. Although this mustn’t be mistaken for a ‘robot’ style that can
come from this kind of talk. He does, at times, say things that are cute and
unimportant and even funny. "I mock you with my monkey pants." He’s a
teenage boy growing up in the same way as everyone else. He’s human; he has
real problems and a real life. He just chooses to say what he wants to say.
He’s not a blurter and he’s not a bumbling idiot. When Oz talks, he keeps
calm and says what he means.
Oz and clever words
Oz, as Willow so loves to remind everyone, is very clever. He knows his
stuff, but he’s very laid back and doesn’t always show us how clever he can
be. We get a short insight into Oz’s mind in season 3, ‘Earshot’ when Buffy
hears him say, "I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains
everything that is me and she becomes me. I cease to exist." "No one else
exists either. Buffy is all of us. We think, therefore, she is." He is a
philosopher at heart, but you never hear him speak this way to other people.
When writing a fic in Oz’s perspective, you must keep in mind his thoughts
are much more complex and insightful. He verbalises very little of what goes
on in his head, which is a shame because what is going on is something worth
hearing. But to get the right degree of intelligence into his spoken words,
you just need to remember these three words of advice. Clear, insightful,
witty. Depending on situations and who he’s in a conversation with,
different measures of those three in the speech should have you
characterizing Oz perfectly.