Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Reluctant Lady: Cinderella in What Eyes Can See

I can actually remember the very moment I got the inspiration for What Eyes Can See--or rather, what eventually wound up as What Eyes Can See. In the beginning it was a completely different story.

It was early June, or thereabouts. I had just heard of the Five Glass Slippers contest, and I was dreaming of entering. The only problem was that I had no plot.

Yeah, that was a little bit of a problem.

So I thought. And I thought and thought. Finally, washing dishes at my kitchen sink one evening, I had a moment of inspiration: what if Cinderella wasn't the heroine she's made out to be? After all, I ruminated, as we all know, winners write the history; was Cinderella really as mistreated as she makes it sound? What if the stepmother and stepsisters were the long-suffering saints, and Cinderella was, for lack of a better term, a spoiled brat? In that first glimpse of a story that flashed through my mind at the kitchen sink, an insufferable, spoiled, haughty, gorgeous Cinderella charms the prince with her beauty. He catches the "gorgeous" thing pretty quickly, but doesn't recognize that the other three adjectives apply to her until after the wedding. She makes the entire kingdom miserable. The end. (I have a thing for sad endings. Villette, anyone? Loved it.)

Luckily, that's not the story I ended up writing. But it did set me on a path--a path in which Cinderella, instead of being a mistreated servant in her own household, is simply just a very shy girl who's never really connected with her stepmother. What if Cinderella didn't want to go to the ball at all? That question set me scribbling in an old notebook every moment I had spare to scribble. It kept me up into the wee hours of the morning pecking away on my laptop whilst Josh Groban softly serenaded me. It pushed me to actually finish a story for once (yup, serial story-beginner-and-abandoner here).

I can't say that Arella in What Eyes Can See is really based on any person I know in particular. She's just an answer to the question I asked myself after I got over that whole "spoiled Cinderella marries Prince Charming and he regrets it forever" thing. And she's an answer to an elusive ideal I've always held for myself. Beautiful. Blonde. Petite. Graceful. Reserved. That perfect girl I always wanted to be...

But as Arella taught me while answering my question, the ideal isn't really always ideal. It comes with some serious problems, too. Sooner or later, some stepmother will force you to go to a royal ball...and then, well, stuff happens.

Hmm. Yeah, it's probably a good thing I didn't go with the depressing one, isn't it?

I really need to get one of those cool sign-off things like "cheers" or "toodles" or "TTFN" or whatever.
       ~Elisabeth Brown


  1. Haha, that sounds great! I love the concept behind it, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who brainstorms while doing dishes. Something about cleaning is very conducive for creativity. : )

  2. The original version of Broken Glass was rather depressing too...Cinderella was going to be rather nasty and vengeful. The fairy-godmother too. I let my sister read it and she pretty much said, "It's good, but really depressing." Thus I went on a more happy route.

  3. Ah, I'm glad you went with the happy one! I'm really interested to see how it turns out!

  4. I love the idea of Cinderella not wanting to go to the ball, and your title for the story is so intriguing. I'm reserved, too, so Orella sounds like someone I'd empathize and get along with. Also like the idea that your Cinderella character has never really connected with her stepmother, so maybe the stepmother isn't necessarily a villain like we all thought. Looking forward to reading your story!

  5. Allison, I agree! Nothing like some good monotonous labor for thinking. :)
    Emma, I'm so happy someone else *almost* made Cinderella nasty! I'm not alone!
    Hannah, thanks! I hope you like it. :)
    Meredith, my sister actually came up with the title for me. I had no clue what to call it, and I needed a title stat or I would miss the deadline for sending it in. ;)