Since we spent the first two Rumpelstiltskin posts slogging through the research side of the fairy tale, today I wanted to talk about my adaption and some of the trails, fun, and changes that I made while writing it.
First of all, the obvious: Rumpelstiltskin–Stil–is the hero in my version of the story. I did this because I feel like in the original fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin gets the short end of the stick. He does some things that are questionable, but he also does a lot of things that are very kind. In short, he seems like he has a personality disorder. While looking at the story, I saw that most–if not all–of his actions could be explained if Rumpelstiltskin was in love with the miller’s daughter. I really liked this idea, but there were two problems: King Torgen and Prince Toril.
Even before I wrote Wild Swans, I knew I wanted Rumpelstiltskin to be set in Verglas–home of King Torgen, who almost succeeds in eliminating Elise, and Prince Toril, who I wrote to fall in love with Elise, following the traditional Wild Swans fairy tales. I wanted Rumpelstiltskin to redeem Toril–the poor guy didn’t deserve to get dumped twice–but I knew I wanted Gemma and Stil to be a couple. Even before I decided that, I didn’t want Gemma to marry into King Torgen’s family, because what girl would want to belong to the family that threatened to kill her on three separate occasions?
To redeem Toril and keep Rumpelstiltskin more emotionally-realistic, I added the character of Lady Linnea. Lady Linnea filled the necessary role of love interest for Toril, but she also fills a vital role as close friend to Gemma. Most fairy tale heroines are alone. They have no friends, and usually their only living family members torture them–like Snow White or Cinderella. However, reality doesn’t function like that. Females need to have friends–and not the catty kind who will stab you in the back, but real friends who would go the extra mile for you…or break into a dungeon to try and help you escape the clutches of a greedy king.
With the invention of Gemma and Stil’s relationship, Toril’s redemption, and Lady Linnea’s entrance, Rumpelstiltskin goes from a story filled with villains and no real hero, to a tale of love and friendship. (Not to mention it makes the story about twice as likeable.) The character changes allowed me to make Gemma a sacrificing heroine–which explains why she doesn’t run away or instantly correct King Torgen.
In a total tangent, as some of you have noticed, Gemma is, to date, the most taciturn female heroine I have written. There were times I wanted to SHAKE HER because the story would be so much easier if she opened her yap, but instead I was forced to reveal her feelings through her actions and motions. Writing Gemma was a great exercise for me, and made me grow as a writer.
So, Champions, what did you think of the changes? What did you think of Prince Toril’s growth from Wild Swans to Rumpelstiltskin?