I’m working on the WIP today, focusing on my antagonist character Fiona Silverthorne, Fairy Godmother Superior. I have been told that her emotional content is lacking, and that it’s not clear why she decides to do some of the things she does to the protagonist, Maven. I want to dissociate her from Shrek’s Fairy Godmother with her polluting industry and Oompa-Loompa slavery of her potion-making minions, yet the same sort of manipulation seems to come with the job–power corrupts.
So, today I will crawl into her head, perhaps riff-writing, as suggested by Elizabeth Lyon in Manuscript Makeover. A truth about antagonists and villians is that (unlike in the cartoons), they think they are the heroes. They feel justified in taking the actions they take for the higher good, even if it’s just good for themselves.
I intended the story to be about a struggle of opposition and perspective, rather than good and evil, but I chose the wrong genre for that. Fantasy is always about good and evil, usually clearly delineated and often over-simplified. The Great Sauron does not even have a cat, like Dr. Claw, to soften his all-destructive evil. After all, what does he plan to do to Middle Earth after he conquers it? Lay it to waste.
I did not write Fiona to be evil, only authoritarian, rule-bound and traditionalist, where Maven has issues with authority in general and with traditional fairy tale patterns in particular. Hence parody.
Originally, I saw Fiona as similar to the chief of police in detective TV, where the wise-cracking detective is always in hot water, but never in serious trouble except from the bad guys–Lethal Weapon in gossamer– although I usually think of Maven more like Peter Falk than Mel Gibson. Fiona would have told me that wouldn’t work.
Still, to make the story work, Fiona must be as well developed as Maven, and that’s the task for today, to begin to locate and revise the scenes written from her point of view, to show her thought process, which Maven does not know, of course, and to justify her actions, at least from her point of view. Those around Fiona see her as calculating and emotionally distant, but there has to be a heart in her somewhere for her to have the passionate rages that strike fear into most of Faery when she is around.
“But Evil’s still Evil,” according to Don Henley, so today I am studying Evil. Wish me luck.