*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
At the center of every fairy tale is hope and a belief that things will work out for the best. Without either of those elements, a fairy tale is simply not a fairy tale. In Once Upon A Time, hope and belief is personified in the character of Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore). Henry is the natural son of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), the adopted son of Regina Mills (Lana Parilla) and the center of a very complicated family tree.
It is Henry who finds Emma at the beginning of the first season and convinces her to come with him to Storybrooke. Throughout the course of the first six seasons, Henry holds onto his beliefs, even when it appears that hope is dead and happy endings only occur in books.
To sum it up: We all need hope in our lives. Hope is the one thing that pulls us through when nothing else can. The world can be a very dark place. When we are writing our stories and sculpting both the narrative and the character arcs, hope is an important element of the foundation of the hero’s journey. Hope helps the hero through their toughest task, as it does in real life when we feel like the obstacles are insurmountable.
One of the wisest women I know of, Jane Austen, wrote about hope in the following manner in Sense and Sensibility:
Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience-or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.
It’s always easier to go along with the crowd. But what happens when going along with the crowd doesn’t feel right?
Writer Tova Mirvis was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family. As an adult, she followed the prescribed path of marriage, career, children and faith. But something didn’t feel quite right. Her memoir, The Book Of Separation, chronicles the bold and scary decision Ms. Mirvis made to divorce her husband and break from the Orthodox Jewish faith and community that was part and parcel of her life.
Human beings are creatures of habit. Breaking from those habits is never easy, especially when it comes to religion and family. I enjoyed the book for two reasons. The first reason is that the reader is easily able to hook into the journey and the emotions of the writer. The second reason is that her story is universal. There is always fear when one breaks away from the safe and the comfortable, even when the safe and comfortable does not feel right to us. Many of us have gone through or will go through a similar journey that the author experienced.
Love, especially romantic love, often pushes us into decisions we might not have otherwise made.
In the 1992 movie Forever Young, Daniel McCormick (Mel Gibson) is a test pilot in pre World War II America. His sweetheart, Helen (Isabel Glasser) is injured and comatose due to an accident. The doctors are not confident that she will wake up from the coma. Not wanting to watch Helen die, Daniel agrees to be the guinea pig in a newly built cryogenic freezing chamber. The plan is that Daniel is to be woken up in a year, after Helen has passed away. Instead of waking up a year later, Daniel wakes up 53 years later, in 1992.
He is woken up by Nat Cooper (Elijah Wood), a young boy living with his single mother, Claire Cooper (Jamie Lee Curtis). While Daniel is trying to adjust to the fact that he woke up in 1992, his body is also aging rapidly. Can he find Helen in this new era or will he die, not knowing her fate?
Written by J.J. Abrams, this film is the perfect blend of science fiction and romance. Neither genre overtakes the other, allowing the best elements of both romance and science fiction to come together and gel into the best of both worlds.