lonespark: Tiana in profile wearing tiara (Tiana)
Ana Mardoll has a fantastic post on her blog about the Beauty and the Beast story. It's the author's note to her new book, which I can't wait to read. It has me thinking about Beauty and the Beast-type stories.

The one I'm most familiar with is The Phantom of the Opera, and I was pretty well obsessed with it for years...maybe decades? My interest comes and goes, these days. That's a story that seems, when told well, to be as much about music, and genius and madness, and possibly something about ghosts, as about love, or "love..." One of my favorite versions was the miniseries that was on when I was in elementary school, starring Teri Polo and Charles Dance, with bonus Burt Lancaster. I composed, but never wrote down, fanfiction stories for it, of the Mary Sue fix-it variety.

My Character, J, was very much in the Mary Sue-as-fantasy-self mold. She was tall, and had red hair. (I am not-tall, quite short in fact, and have not-red hair, and I am fine with this now. At the time I was big for my age, and had blonde hair which I utterly despised, which could have something to do with living briefly in Thailand, but probably doesn't.) She could do f***ing everything. She could ride horses and do martial arts, and generally outrun, outsmart, outfight and out-(fill in skill here) anyone, and by anyone I mean "the male characters" since there wasn't much female competition in the media I was into. She got to save, smack some sense into, and kiss/bonk/etc. Erik.

I had that same character having adventures in other universes. Chiefly Star Trek, where she got to have a brief fling with Dr. McCoy but spent most her time just being Awesome Lt. Mary Sue. She was from the Really Cool Planet I had way too much fun making up, to the point where I just wanted to make up stories, travelogues really, about that planet and its cultural festivals, and the history of its founding, and its Vulcan community, and the popular holo-shows there, and what happened when a popular actor in one got married and his husband tried set up McCoy and Spock...(Hmmm, I guess those characters and that setting kind of bridged the gap between the Mary Sue phase and later slash fandom, as well as encompassing a period of filing-off-the-numbers exploration of fantasy and scifi concepts I'm still involved with off and on.)

Getting back to Phantom, I also actually wrote down the early chapters of fairly involved story that started off vaguely "inspired by" where the horribly disfigured (by a curse!) character courted a beautiful blonde princess who rebuffed him and ended up with her awesome kickass brunette sister. It got way More Complicated Than That quickly, partly because I love worldbuilding and partly because I realized that while a princess might reject a suitor for insufficient prettiness, there are probably seventy zillion cultural factors involved in why he would be unsuccessful, regardless of having had A Vision of his One True Love*.

So I went off worldbuilding and giving Phantom/Beast/Barbarian from The Cold Mountains Guy (henceforth known as Z) a culture, and a past. When I started doing that it became obvious that this character was my viewpoint character, the one I identified with, and the princess thing was kind of a distraction that I might get to eventually. Z was never abusive or a monster, although he killed people and hurt friends and made mistakes. I think that comes out of the fact that I felt somewhat that the Beast/Phantom isn't just a monster. But I never really wanted him to Get the Girl, either. And I guess the best I could come up with was for him to not need The Girl.

You can't have that in Beauty and the Beast, (or The Little Mermaid, which is different but similar as far as the magic part goes) unless you have someone (maybe the potential love interest?) find another way to break the spell, removing the coercion...which is a good idea. Perhaps I'll go find some fics like that and read them, or prompt some or write some or something.

*Not really.


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October 2017

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