Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Focus on Character Development: A View from Behind the Lens

by Helen Peppe, guest blogger and Stonecoast Alumna. Helen will participate in a faculty panel at the 2013 Stonecoast Summer Residency titled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Race.”

This post has been reblogged from Write Here, Write Now with Sheila Boneham.

This paw does not belong to a troll.


 Once upon a time there was a troll, the most evil troll of them all; he was called the devil. One day he was particularly pleased with himself, for he had invented a mirror which had the strange power of being able to make anything good or beautiful that it reflected appear horrid; and all that was evil and worthless seem attractive and worthwhile.

This is the first paragraph of “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Anderson who embedded moral lessons in fairy tales and other short works, many of which do not end happily ever after. Anderson created his characters using the rules of polarity: good and evil, beautiful and ugly, greedy and generous. He recognized that people universally think in terms of opposites, that it pervades our physical environment: north and south, night and day, dark and light, hot and cold. Anderson kept his characters deceptively basic, a flat land of generic stereotype. There is the wicked witch and the beautiful princess, the conniving hag and unsuspecting king, and their differences create conflict. It’s as simple as yes and no, as right and wrong. But it isn’t.  

Read the full post here