Writer’s Notes: All Rumpeled Up

First, I’m a bad blogger. I promised to post something special
yesterday, and never got the chance to do it. So here it is. If you’d
like a free copy of my flash collection, Heart Knocks,
use code FREEHEARTS at checkout in the BSB store. You’ll be able to
download one copy for free in your choice of PDF, MOBI or ePUB formats.
My gift to you, good through midnight (Mountain Time).
Actually, it works better this way, since I’m not giving you a gift on a holiday, but after.
Now on to today’s post…

Do you watch Once Upon a Time?
For the uninitiated, it’s ABC’s revisionist version of the classic
fairy tale world, wherein the evil queen has cursed the entire land to
be stuck in a modern-day town that none of them can leave. Conveniently,
most of them also have amnesia, so they don’t remember who they really
are – the gradual awakening is part of the plot. All the characters we
grew up reading about are there – Snow White and Prince Charming, Red
Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretal…the list goes on. My favorite though
is the enigmatic Rumpelstiltskin who goes by “Mr. Gold” in the
non-fantasy world. 
Carol Ward did some
research into the original fairy tale (or folklore, if you prefer) that
you can find here.
The show, of course, has taken liberties with his character that make
him a far more fascinating individual than what he started out as, in my opinion.
don’t foresee any spoilers in this post – I’ll mostly be talking about
the character himself, rather than any specific show details, but if
you’re skittish, this would be the spot to stop reading and go watch. 
Gold is a person who uses “deals” to get what he wants (I’ll fix this problem for you, if you agree to do/give this in return.). Manipulation is
his specialty, and there’s always a string attached when someone agrees
to an exchange with him. It’s a skill that goes along with the magic
he’s got…and fittingly, that “power” was passed on to him in a
manipulative transaction as well. He wasn’t always like that though, as
the show’s plot reveals…and he has very specific reasons for being the
way he is, and also for being afraid of change.
You might think he’s a villain, but is he, really? The way he’s written leaves the final verdict up
in the air as he uses everyone equally to his own ends, including the queen. It’s
obvious that he has more power than nearly every other character (the possible exception being Emma), but
the way he wields it is so deliberate that I find myself often thinking
that he’s not bad or good, but rather just “himself”.
that is exactly why I love him – as a character, he’s perfect (and I
have to say, I think they chose the perfect actor as well). Ambiguity
leads to curiosity, and the writers feed us just enough new tidbits each
week about his character to keep the ambiguity from getting boring.
In any case, as I watched the show last week, which Rumpel
was featured extensively in, it finally dawned on me that this is what I
want to focus more on, both for my heroes and my villains. My
characters are either “too good” or “too bad”. They’re well-defined…so
much so that there’s no room for any ambiguity. That’s fine and normal
for some genres…say, my romantic suspense (although even there, it
would add something) and erotica readers seem to like the fantasy “too
good to be true” guy, but that fascinating & constant war between
dark and light would serve a very interesting purpose for the
protagonist(s) in my thrillers, and it would add dimension to my
villains as well.
I don’t know why this hasn’t hit me before,
but I think it’s because I’ve never really been fascinated enough by a
character fashioned that way to pick one apart and figure out *why* he
fascinated me so much (wow, that sounds bad, doesn’t it?). Not that it
takes a lot of effort with Mr. Gold…his internal struggles are evident
in nearly everything he does, as much as he tries to hide them.

Now if I can just figure out how to work that delicate interplay to my advantage…

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2 comments on “Writer’s Notes: All Rumpeled Up

  1. Carol

    He is a rather ambiguous character, isn’t he? Part of his charm, I think, is that you’re never quite sure whose side he’s on – I suspect he’s on his own side. I really loved the episode where we saw what he was before he became the Rumplestiltskin. I think he’s one of my favorite characters on the show as well. 🙂

  2. Swiss Army Knives

    Thanks for post. It really informative stuff. I really like to read. Hope to learn a lot and have a nice experience here! My best regards guys! Tuff. I really like to read. Hope to learn a lot and have a nice experience here! My best regards guys!