As a writer, I adore characters. So not only do I love to read, I also love to watch tv. Because characters–they’re everywhere! One show that has swiftly become a favorite of mine is Once Upon a Time (OUAT). Why do I love it? I have a list for that.
- Strong women. Not even kidding. The main character, the heroine, is an intriguing and focused woman, still trying to figure out who she is but dedicated to those she loves. The main villain(ess) is also a strong female who is wholeheartedly dedicated to her goals. And there are a handful of other female characters who have their own strengths. Yes, there are some incredible male characters too. But what I love is that the female characters don’t simply exist to be rescued by the males or to support the males as they go on adventures. The women of OUAT are the story.
- Complex characters. The heroine is not squeaky clean. She has made her own bad choices, doubted herself, tangled with some dark stuff. The villainess shows moments of light, situations where she makes the right choice, sacrifices herself or her goals. And she has actually become increasingly helpful, or “good,” over the seasons. I love that kind of honesty, characters who aren’t purely one thing or another. They’re messy and flawed and constantly learning. Like real humans.
- Double duty identities. As you can probably imagine, OUAT finds its roots in fairy tales. But most characters have more than one fairy tale identity. For instance, Rumplestiltskin is also the crocodile from Peter Pan, as well as Belle’s Beast. Red Riding Hood is also the wolf. (Wrap your head around that one.) I love how the writers refuse to conform to the usual fairy tale limitations. And somehow they keep all the storylines straight.
- Real world consistency. When these fairy tale characters are first transported into the real world, they are given real world identities and have no memory of their previous lives. But who they are, at their core, doesn’t change. Snow White is a teacher. Jiminy Cricket is a therapist. The Huntsman is the sheriff (although that changes later). A change in circumstances and setting doesn’t suddenly change who they are.
- Difficult choices. The characters don’t have easy lives. (And thank goodness, because otherwise I’d get bored.) They’re constantly presented with difficult choices and situations, ones that don’t have an obvious answer. And they struggle. Sometimes they make the wrong choice. Sometimes they hesitate for too long. Sometimes they follow terrible advice. And I love it. Because haven’t we all done stupid things at some point?
There you have it. Five reasons I watch Once Upon a Time.
And if that weren’t enough, I’m apparently like the main character. No, really. See?
When an INFP is the heroine, I kind of have to watch.
For me, great stories are all about the characters–their personalities, their humanity, how who they are impacts their choices. When a writer forces a character to act in a way that contradicts their personalities simply to advance a concept or a plot piece, I stop reading or watching. Because if you compromise your characters, twist them around so they aren’t genuine any more, what’s the point? You’ve ceased to be a storyteller. Now you’re just playing with toys.
Be a storyteller, my writer friends. Honor your characters.
And if you need inspiration, watch Once Upon a Time. 😉