Tag Archives: fan fiction

Mr. Gold and the Five Facts of Fiction

Believe it or not, I return to teaching less than two weeks from now. I am currently spending my days modifying last year’s lesson plans, working on my latest manuscript, and re-watching season 1 of Once Upon a Time.

The lesson I am currently revising is on character. I found this amazing worksheet online by Steve Peha (http://www.ttms.org) that I use in class called “Five Facts of Fiction” in which students brainstorm the physical, emotional, social, philosophical and intellectual traits of a character, explore what the character wants and whether or not s/he gets it, how the character changes throughout the story and the world in which the story takes place. The task is to complete this worksheet for a character with whom the students are already familiar, either from fiction or the popular media (i.e., television or movies). So of course, I chose Robert Carlyle’s excellent portrayal of Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin with which to complete an exemplar. I won’t bore you with the worksheet notes, but here is the character sketch I wrote as a result of the exercise.

Gold dusted the holdings of his pawn shop tenderly, memories of days gone by, each of them reminiscent of a deal he’d made in that other place. It was cold there, metaphorically speaking, had become so the day he abandoned the army and returned to his village the only survivor of his troop. Fools. They’d dubbed him the resident coward then, but no one could have understood his fear, not unless they’d been there. Back then only the men went to fight in The Ogre Wars and few returned from battle. Then they took the women as well. Then the children.


                His mind returned to his own son whom he’d help escape that world. Better separate and reunited somewhere and somewhen than send him like a lamb to the slaughter.

              That reunion was still forthcoming.

                Gold sighed. He laid the feather duster down and retreated to the back room where his spinning wheel resided and began to spin. Here, in this place without magic, even his spinning was impotent. Here he spun sheep’s wool to yarn; back home he spun straw to gold. Spinning helped to calm his nerves and made him a rich man, but he was nevertheless very lonely.

He’d been happy once. Looking for someone to tend his castle, he’d taken Belle, saving her from enlisting in a loveless marriage, only to find he had feelings for her. When she kissed him, he felt his power threatened and believed her to be an emissary of the Evil Queen and sent her out. He’d heard she returned to her father’s home where she’d been shunned and eventually taken her own life. Here, in Storybrooke, Gold had beaten the man, hoping to hear the truth from his own lips, that Belle was still alive and, like Bae, out there somewhere, somewhen, but to no avail.

               The wheel stopped momentarily as Gold closed his eyes and tried to visualize her face. She was beautiful. Too beautiful to fall for the likes of him without an ulterior motive, he felt sure. Yet he still held onto a strand of hope, a strand as thin and delicate as the gold he favoured spinning from straw. He resumed his spinning. In Fairytaleland, after accepting the power of The Dark One, he was a powerful man, both feared and respected. It was the same in Storybrooke as well. He had fear and respect. What he didn’t have was love, but it was coming, of that he was sure. One day, he would bring magic to Storybrooke and then, when he had regained the power of The Dark One, he would show them all, Regina, her “Royal” majesty, most of all. When that day came, he would find Bae and Belle, and the three of them would live their lives out as the resident royals of Storybrooke, Maine.

                One day he would find his own happy ending.

                One day soon.

A Dialogue-based Tribute to Once Upon A Time’s Mr. Gold in his pawn shop.

I noticed the shop whilst passing through the quaint Maine town. Ancient antiques, enough heirlooms to embody a sizeable king’s ransom, adorned the storefront windows. Being a fan of trinkets from days-gone-by, I couldn’t help myself. I had to go inside.


“Can I help you, Dearie?” the proprietor asked.


“You have a beautiful shop.”


“That it is. The victors and the spoils of many a Storybrooke local.”


I continued to look around.


“They can’t help themselves, you see? Everyone wants something. Their deepest, darkest desires fulfilled. Something they’re sure’ll bring about their happy endings. Promise them that, and they’ll make a deal. Promise them their happy ending and they’ll bargain away their right arm if you let ‘em.”


I chanced a glance at him.


“Of course, I wouldn’t let ‘em.”


I looked away.


“What need have I for someone else’s right arm?” he muttered.


I cast a sideways glance his way.


“It was a quip,” he said.


I looked away.


“This is an interesting piece.” I touched the base of the statue.


“The three wise monkeys. Yes, it is. Very interesting.


“They’re Japanese in origin, did you know that? It is said that if we hear, speak and see no evil then we, ourselves, shall be spared from evil.


“Did you know there was originally a fourth monkey? Do no evil.” He sighed.


“Damned creature got away before he could be turned to gold alongside his brothers. Pity, really. There are some in this town that could use a reminder of that.” He winked and smiled a lecherous smile.


“This mobile is stunning, the way the unicorns catch the light. Are they glass?”


“Crystal. “


“And this, the wooden windmill.”


“Fine craftsmanship. It’s a lawn ornament, actually, fit to adorn the yard of royalty.” He laughed. “Funny. The man that traded me it was no prince. His wife’s gone missing, hIs mistress accused of foul play, you know.”


“How terrible.”


“Yes, well, it would be.” He spun the spokes of the miniature mill. “If I weren’t representing her as legal council.”


I looked at him questioningly.


“Oh, come now. You didn’t think my little shop was enough to keep my finances in order? It’s not like I can sit in my back room all day spinning straw to gold, now, can I?


“But I do have my eye on everything that happens in this town. Have to stay on top of things. If I’m going to survive. The mayor—she’s a worthy adversary. Everyone in the town’s afraid of her, you know. But they’re more afraid of me.” He winked again and nodded a single nod.


“Another quip?”


“Now you’re catching on.”    


I wandered to the rear of the shop, drawn by the paintings hung on the back wall. I stood, speechless, admiring their beauty.


“I knew it when you walked in. You have a keen eye for aesthetics, a real nose for beauty.”


“Where is this? It looks familiar. Something from my childhood, maybe?”


“It’s of a place long ago and far away. A place where magic is real and sorrow and heartbreak can be wished away for the price of something dear.”


He mused silently for a moment, then snapped, “They’re not for sale.”


“So.” He clapped, then rubbed his hands together. “Let’s put that aesthetic eye and nose of yours to work, shall we? Let’s see if we can’t find you your happy ending, eh?”

This dialogue was written as an exemplar for my Writers Craft students for an upcoming dialogue assignment. The goal is to depict a famous person or character using as few dialogue tags and narrative as possible. Naturally, I chose to portray Mr. Gold. I hoped to pick up the subtleties of his character using dialogue only, the droll sense of humour, always champing at the bit to make the next deal, his thinly veiled contempt for the residents of Storybrooke, and the tragic sense of loss that propels his character forward.

Thanks to http://ouatv1.blogspot.com/2011/11/rumpelstiltskin-mr-gold.html for the graphic and some of the Mr. Gold quotes.

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 http://ouatv1.blogspot.com/2012/02/once-upon-time-mr-golds-house.html for the graphic and the Rumplestiltskin quotes.

Tribute to Once Upon A Time’s “Dreamy” Episode

Grumpy did not start out that way. Once he was called Dreamy; that was the name with which he was born. Once he was in love. But dwarves can’t love. Dwarves can’t marry.  Dreamy learned this harsh truth when he was barely past his first birthday and he ventured out of the mines to be with Nova and watch the fireflies on the hill. They dreamt of sailing the kingdoms together, but Poppa set him straight. Dreamy returned to the mines to become Grumpy.

Standing in front of the diamond deposit, Grumpy took a deep breath. His nose shone bright red, irritated from inhaling the dust caused by his pickaxe against the ground as he swung. He straightened with a groan. More than anything else, he longed to see her face again, hear her voice, sail the kingdoms. Grumpy swung again. He heard Sneezy sneeze and Sleepy snore in the background. He’d heard tell of a man—he was a man once, rumour had it—that would offer you your most deepest desires. For a price. Maybe he should venture to the surface again. Seek him out.  But it had been so long.

Grumpy straightened up once more, righted the cloth hat on his head and scratched the dirt from his beard. Nova. There she was in his thoughts again. Her sing-song voice, star-lit eyes, ruby lips. Nova. Who was he kidding? Even a man that spun gold from straw couldn’t give him what he wanted. And even if he could, the consequences for his love were too great. She would lose her wings. People who would rely on her as their fairy godmother would be left hanging.

The best thing for Grumpy to do was to accept his lot in life and make the best of it. But he didn’t have to like it. “Hi ho,” Grumpy said, passionlessly. He swung the pickaxe again.

The above piece was written as an exemplar for my Writers Craft students to demonstrate how to write a character sketch using a formula called “The Five Facts of Fiction” and detailed in http://www.ttms.org/say_about_a_book/facts_of_fiction.htm.

Thanks to http://thetelevixen.com/2012/03/ouat-dreamy/ for the graphic.

Tribute to Once Upon A Time’s “Skin Deep” Episode

When he discovered she’d betrayed him, the illusion shattered. Life. Death. Good. Evil. Then there was a moment – it was hard to breathe. His self- perception was ripped asunder and his world began to shift. Glass, wood, fine china, and trinkets landed on the floor. Then the dungeon door slammed. Then nothing else mattered.

The above passage was modeled after an excerpt from Timothy Findley’s “The Wars”. It was written as an exemplar for a modeling exercise in which students had to write a passage modeled after a master text.

Thanks to http://www.ouatfan.com/2012/02/12/quick-cap-episode-12-skin-deep-recap-review-etc/ for the graphic.