Character Sketch of Once Upon A Time’s Mr. Gold

The old house was dark and drafty, but he didn’t mind. He kind of liked it that way. It hearkened back to another time in his life, another place, a buried memory. He ran a comb through his long, greying locks, trusting they looked okay. Selecting a light lilac dress shirt, a striped tie in complimentary, variegated purple, and the dark grey suit, he dressed. He tied his shoes and looked down at himself. It would suffice. It had to. Ever since…well, ever since the curse had been enacted, he never took much stock in mirrors and only seldom chanced a glance at his reflection in a window or any other reflective surface. He wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. He looked presentable, he decided, but for the cane. That damned cane and the limp he’d affected in this lifetime. It was meant for others to underestimate him, to perceive him as weaker than he was. Instead, it christened him with an air of the unknown. People feared him, deferred to him, showed him respect. Good.

He opened the lock to his pawn shop with the skeleton key then placed it in the inside pocket of his suit jacket for safe keeping. He felt safest in the old shop, equally as dark and drafty as his house, if not a little dustier. He nodded at the husband and wife marionettes (just because they were wooden didn’t mean they couldn’t still perceive the world around them), blew on the golden oil lamp on the counter then buffed it with the sleeve of his jacket, and drew the feather duster over the ship’s bell near the far curio. Belle. The thought tickled his mind fondly at first, but then the memory of love found and love lost grew dark, as dark as the depths of his soul. They would pay for his loss. All of them. Happy endings, indeed, he thought. He swallowed a chortle deep in his throat, but the smirk that grew on his thin lips would not be stifled.

The front door rang. Someone was there.  A customer! His heart beat with excitement. A deal. No one came to see him without a deal in mind. He choked back a snicker and resisted the urge to drum his fingers together.

“Mr. Gold?” the sheriff called.

“Miss Swan. So nice to see you,” he said, poking his head from the threshold of the back room.

The sheriff frowned. She didn’t trust him. Also good.

“What can I do for you today, my dear?” he said with a leer. Emma Swan owed him for a deal they’d recently struck, and he intended to collect. Mr. Gold’s agreements were always honoured. And no one had ever broken a deal with him. Ever.

This passage was written to demonstrate to my Writers Craft students how to write a character sketch. Too often, students tend to write a paragraph that reads more like a laundry list of character traits than a character description. Characters are motivated by their wants and desires. Their story is about their reaching or failing to reach achieve those desires. In this passage, I wanted to provide motivation behind Mr. Gold’s character, but I couldn’t resist toying with the fact that he remembers Fairytaleland and knows who he was. In my mind, the reality of Rumplestiltskin is bubbling behind the thin facade of the stoic Mr. Gold.

Thanks to for the graphic and the Rumplestiltskin quotes.