It occurred to me that I never thought about why I hated Cinderella so much when I was growing up. In part I'm sure it comes from being an oldest child and the one most often looked to to clean up this and dust that and sweep here and there was a mouse once in the basement but he was dead so not quite like the movie version of the same. But as I reflect, because why not, I realized that the reason I disliked Cinderella so much was that the villain was so Blah...
I had to look up the stepmother's name, again. I looked it up months ago and still couldn't remember it. Do you?
But my point is this, Lady Tremaine and her daughters were just there. They weren't really nefarious. They were acting in their own best interests, stepping on the little guy, doing their thing. It's a very human quality. Sure, I'll give you that it's not a GOOD human quality, but we're always talking about ambition, and the evil stepmother and sisters certainly had that. Even the duke rocks it out in the movies. Wars are started over it and rulers rule because of it, so why is the stepfamily evil?
Well, it all comes down to the winner and the loser. And no one is as freaking-perfect as Cinderella is portrayed as being, all goody-goody and self-sacrificing. Saints are fun to talk about, but hard to relate to because there's a little evil in us all.
Now, I know: What's the point?
It seemed to me that the stepfamily were unnecessary in the story. Now, evil relatives, evil parents willing to kill their children out of fear and despair, those are villains I want to learn about. Villains, with names I remember, who might not be as villainous as I thought initially, or more so. But they have stories, and backgrounds, even if those backgrounds are mostly made up in our heads.
Demons are more interesting to write about.
And a demonic, deadly Cinder-soot takes the cake.
That's not what I meant by inspiration.
Inspiration comes, for writers, artists, musicians, inventors, doctors and teachers and everyone, from everything. Who the heck would have thought "Geeze, that bolt of lightning looks interesting, I wonder if I can capture it?" and come up with electricity without a little inspiration to guide them along the way. Inspiration, or experimentation, or a questioning nature. Inspiration is the process of asking "what if" and finding answers to the question. Writers do it with characters and emotions and stories are the results. Doctors see a disease and say what if "x" and someone thinks of "y" to help the patient dying of streptococcushippopotomonstroses survive (yup, a combination of strep throat and a fear of long words...deadly). Inspiration can be found in the littlest of things, the ant who slips off a blade of glass under your microscope or the pebble that falls slowly to the bottom of the lake that reaches the other side of the world, to the big things like the moon and the universe and those whosits and whatsits we've never thought of living just out of reach beyond the stars. Inspiration comes from questioning why step-anythings when the real ones are just as interesting or why a saint when a sinner is more real?
So Charming was inspired by looking at families, looking at "happily-ever-afters" and asking the question: what if they're not so happy and a bit more like real families with their ups and downs than what the movies portray?
What if the Beast met Cinderella in the forest? What if Ursula dwelt on the land and not the sea? What if...and wait and see.