The next short, Best Friends Part 1–Click here for the PDF, is now available! This short are told from Odette’s POV, and they follow her around, but they focus on getting you caught up with what’s happening to some of the secondary characters. Now, on to today’s post!
Finally, the topic I’ve been itching to write, Swan Lake’s characters and changes!
First, I’m going to assume you read my previous post that took a look at the original Swan Lake ballet. This is important because I’m going to look at the differences my characters make in the story.
One of the biggest things I changed was that I made the crown prince’s little brother Odette’s romantic love interest. (Also, I ditched the name Siegfried and made the crown Prince be called Yakov. This is mostly because I really like the name Siegfried and I suspect I will want to use it in the future.)
I did this because, as some of you might have noticed, I modeled Alexsei after the winning entry for my “Most wanted Hero” poll from January—the overlooked good guy. The easiest way to make him overlooked was to make him the second son of the Emperor and Empress, and depict his older brother as larger-than-life. I had some problems with this because if I made Yakov likeable, then you guys would be rooting for him, not Alexsei! So Yakov got a bit of a bossy makeover to help me with that.
Another big change I made was in organizing Odette’s people and making them smugglers. I looked at the original ballet and I saw how the Swan maidens followed Odette, and I realized she would’ve had to have some pretty incredible organization skills to keep all those ladies alive considering they had been cursed for a while. I took that into account when I crafted my Odette, so I made a girl who’s much more cunning and street-smart than the typical dewy-eyed Odette you see in the ballet.
Also, after quite a bit of deliberation, I turned Benno, Siegfried’s best friend, into a girl. Part of that was for balance–though Alexsei is smart he is overly courageous, if it weren’t for Benno’s female-born-practicality, Yakov and Alexsei would’ve gotten themselves killed or seriously injured when they were little.
Also, because I was very tired of creating parent characters who are either dead (Like Cinderella’s parents) or not the most supportive people in the world(Like Gemma’s parents) I made up my mind to make Empress Sonya the most rocking, epic empress in the Timeless Fairy Tale world. She was so fun, and I was both disappointed and relieved I could only work her into a few scenes. (Relieved, because whenever Empress Sonya shows up, she’s a total scene stealer!)
I actually kept fairly close to the original plot line, and included the ball scene in which Rothbart attempts to disguise Odile as Odette and the end in which someone falls into the lake and Rothbart’s spells are broken. However, those scenes are vastly different from the original source material due to the characters and their personalities. Alexsei doesn’t fall for Odile’s disguise because 1) he’s known Odette for more than a day and 2) he is very perceptive, and very much in love. Also, Odette doesn’t get her tail feathers in a bundle about the disguise because she’s a lot more mature and logical.
To me, this is a perfect example that shows how slightly tempering character reactions but keeping all the events the same will give you an extremely different end result. It’s the same in real life. If you and I play a chess game, and then you play a chess game with Myrrhlynn, you will get two very different games—and that’s not just because I always have a massive crush on my knights and tend to humanize my pieces.
What I’m getting at here is that personality makes a big difference. Benno the best friend went from being the idiot–or at least the idiot when compared to the brilliance of the original ballet’s Prince Siegfried–to self composed and respectable. Empress Sonya is fun and sassy instead of being moderately nagging about her son getting married–even though Sonya voices those same complaints. Rothbart is also an excellent example. I made a few strategic changes to his character, and as a result it really changed the end of the story, so much so that Rothbart is going to get his own post!
So if you’ve always wanted to do your own retelling, but you’re worried you won’t come up with anything new, just start thinking how you would change the characters, and ponder how that would affect the story.
Well, there you have it, Champions! Those are some of the biggest changes I made to my version of Swan Lake, and explanations of why I made them. I hope you found it interesting, and maybe a wee bit entertaining. Have a lovely weekend and enjoy the freebie!