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30 September 2011

"It's the journey, not the destination" - part 2

In the previous post I mused about potential motivations for King Thrushbeard. I see him as a crafty, roguish character who can't back down from a challenge. I also envision him as someone who isn't used to rejection, or at least can't accept being rejected by a woman. The princess definitely offends Thrushbeard's vanity. Otherwise, why bother with the cloak-and-dagger marriage?

This brings me to part 2 of this discussion: why is the princess arrogant, willful and rude?

Since her father is forcing her to marry, a simple explanation is that she simply doesn't like being told what to do. Honestly, who does? Even though she has to go along with it, I think the princess should be crafty enough to realize that the only way she won't have to marry is if no one will want her. At least it's one way of securing her independence, even if it is a little misguided and childish. So she decides to scare away her suitors by being haughty and completely unappealing. But this is only part of the puzzle. I think I might give her a bit of trust issues, token fairy tale curse drama in order to make her character more interesting.

We shall see.

29 September 2011

"It's the journey, not the destination" - part 1

The destination of every fairy tale is the happily ever after: wishes are fulfilled, true love conquers all, villains are  punished, and world order is restored. I deliberately chose to modernize a fairy tale because I'll be going in knowing all the checkpoints along the road. What I will be filling in is the why of the journey.

I'm treading the familiar ground of my previous post about character motivation, but I believe it is vital to understand why characters do what they do in order to make them believable so that in turn the story becomes believable. Character motivation is the first roadblock that I as a writer need to clear. Only then can my characters begin their journey.

Before things are set in motion, let's take a look at the world at rest. Since I am basing The Beggar's Wife on Grimm's King Thrushbeard, I already know I will have at least three characters: a princess, her father, and King Thrushbeard who disguises himself as a beggar.

In this post I want to focus on King Thrushbeard since I find him to be the most problematic character. According to the fairy tale, when he first meets the princess she is nothing but rude and ridicules him by giving him a terrible moniker. With only her beauty to recommend her, one is left wondering why King Thrushbeard would want to marry her at all.

There's something disturbing about a man who concocts an elaborate plot to marry and humble someone just for insulting him. Is his pride so frail that he is motivated by revenge? Does he simply hate women and is compelled to put them in their place? Or did he see past the princess's beauty and arrogance to some hidden goodness deep down inside her?

King Thrushbeard definitely has a devious quality to his personality that I find intriguing. He is a scoundrel, albeit a likeable one. In other words, he has a hint of Odyssean guile.

26 September 2011

Character Motivation

I love fairy tales, particularly the Grimm fairy tales in all their visceral glory. One of my favorites is K├Ânig Drosselbart a.k.a. King Thrushbeard.  The tale is essentially a "taming of the shrew" story. The haughty princess snobbishly spurns her suitors and as punishment is married off to a beggar who subjects her to a series of humiliations meant to break her proud spirit. Once humbled and properly put in her place, the beggar reveals himself to the princess as the spurned King Thrushbeard and all ends well. When all is said and done, the story plays out like typical patriarchal propaganda: men know best and women must be subservient to their wishes. 

Illustration by Arthur Rackham
For the love of you I disguised myself...All this was was done to humble your proud spirit and to punish you for the arrogance with which you ridiculed me.


For The Beggar's Wife I would like to update King Thrushbeard with 21st century sensibilities. Which brings me to character motivation.


In fairy tales we never get to find out why a character is behaving in a particular way - these stories are too busy moralizing to delve any deeper. In novels, however, the reader wants to know the reasons why characters decide to do particular things. 


  • Why is the princess so arrogant and mean to her suitors?
  • How can a father be so cruel as to marry his daughter not only to a stranger but to a beggar?
  • Why would King Thrushbeard fall in love with a snobbish princess only to humiliate her and seek to rid her of the very arrogance that presumably attracted him to her in the first place?



If characters are properly motivated, then their actions and the story itself becomes believable. My goal is to find answers to these questions. Since the novel will be based on a fairy tale, I already know what will happen. The question that remains as it transitions into a novel is why.

24 September 2011

Award time!

Since I hadn't checked my blog in so long I didn't realize I had received two lovely awards.

My sincerest and deepest thanks go to both Deirdra-Eden Coppel and A.M. Supinger for giving me the CREATIVE BLOG AWARD and VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD respectively.

As part of accepting the VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD I need to share seven things about myself as well as pass this award to five newly discovered bloggers.

So let's get the personal stuff out of the way.


Seven things about myself:

  1. I've hiked along the continental divide.
  2. I've had my palm read in Thailand.
  3. I watched the Hale-Bopp Comet grace the night sky.
  4. In 1999 I didn't party like it was 1999.
  5. Books I've read more than once: The Last Unicorn and Stars My Destination.
  6. I slept through a Category 5 hurricane.
  7. I've been to (or at least passed through) every state of the Eastern Seaboard.

Now I shall pass the VERSATILE BLOG AWARD onto 5 newly discovered bloggers (in no particular order):

At a Crossroads



To quote The Clash: 
This indecision is bugging me.

It's been a very long while since I last posted on my blog. Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to the state of my writing. My greatest difficulty is deciding what to write and sticking to it.

I am standing at a crossroads and I honestly don't know which direction to take.

I have several stories in varying states of progress. The ones that I keep obsessing over are the following:

FantasyThe Beggar's Wife
Paranormal Fantasy: Spell On You


I know I need to just choose one but which?

I'm tempted to just to write these titles on little pieces of paper, put them in a hat, and focus on which ever one I randomly pull out. I think that's what I will do for Nanowrimo.