Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Character Your Character Could Be Like

The following post has spoilers for Once Upon a Time, including the most recent one. Just in case you care and haven't had a chance to watch it yet.
Sadly, there aren't enough characters like Rumpelstiltskin as he's portrayed in ABC's Once Upon a Time.

He's not a moral person. Some would probably even call him evil. But the writers of OUAT know how to develop characters (these are the same people who did Lost after all). I've always been impressed with the characters on the show, but last week's episode blew me away.

You see, Rumple here has a heart. We knew from his previous episode "Desperate Souls" that he can love--he had a son before he did anything to protect. But what about the Rumple we first saw behind bars, jumping around like a madman? With the end of his origins episode, people (or at least I did) assumed that he just became evil after he took on the power of The Dark One. But now we know from this past episode he is quite capable of love, despite all of the bad things he did. Even after the more than twenty-eight years since he lost Belle, he continues to love her. He just thought at the time he loved his power more. 

Rumple isn't a good guy. But he's a rather sympathetic character when knowing his backstory. Usually I only root the the good guy, I've never been the kind to side with the villains. But at this point in the story, I don't see Rumple as a villain anymore, even though he does some awful things.

From what I've learned with Rumple's character is that you need to go deeper with your characters. Are they really all good/bad? (probably not). What made a specific character the way that he is? What about the character will surprise the reader, but still fit with her personality?

This past episode has really made me consider my own characters and develop them further. 


  1. I've got a character coming up in book three of the series I'm querying (so I'll only probably write the third book if I sell the first two but...) and her character will be like this. Depending on whose point of view she could be good or evil. I think that show real talent for a writer if they can walk that line. Hopefully it comes out on paper like I want it to in my head...haha

  2. This makes me think about the Darth Vader type of villain. Before knowing his history as Anakin the son of a slave, the gifted Jedi, the pained seer of bad futures and the heartbroken fighter, we just see a horribly loud breathing mean man crushing others with the force. But once we see his tumble to the dark side, it's a little easier to understand how he got to such a bad place. Doesn't mean that I want him to win, but I feel for his character.

  3. I need to pick Once Upon a Time back up--I haven't seen an episode in a while. I need villains to have a backstory, or I don't care about them as villains. Rumpelstiltskin sounds like my kind of villain!

  4. I love Once Upon A Time; my kids have been watching it with me and it's the first show they've watched with me as its aired, because usually what I watch is too old for them. ;) I love how they show the sympathies of the villains and the weaknesses of the heroes--every character has strengths and weaknesses, and it's fascinating (and a real great way to study characters) to see how the writers of this show handle their cast.

  5. Hi Jenna! UOAT has just started screening here in New Zealand, and I love it when TV makes me think about my own writing in a new way... And I totally laughed at your post heading - love it! :) (PS Hi from the Campaign!)