Title: The Swan Princess Author: Mystery girl 1213
Original Source: The Swan Princess Characters: Odette & Derek
Rating: K Genre(s): Romance
Chapter(s): 11 Status: In-Progress
Author’s Synopsis: Odette, a princess born of King William and Queen Ariella, grows up alongside with her betrothed Prince Derek…Life is hard, especially growing up with Derek…but then Rothbart attacks and things go down hill..but then Odette is placed under a spell that changes her into a swan.basically this will probably be similar to the movie…but with a twist..:) (not good w/summaries.)
*Sits on couch in front of the TV and watches the credits roll. Grabs the remote and powers down the TV, leaving the Xbox and movie still playing.* Well, *reclines and sighs* I have done my research and am now fully prepped for this review.
Welcome Readers to my newest review, I am your now well-educated Fan Fic Reviewer. I read the Good, the Bad, and the Never Should Have Existed stories in the world of fan fiction. For this review I had to do a little refresher course on the movie The Swan Princess because while I have seen the movie several times, I wanted it fresh in my mind while I reviewed this story. In case it wasn’t obvious from the author’s synopsis, the fic is a retelling of the movie with an alleged twist, and the best way for me to give the most comprehensive and accurate criticism was to watch the movie and compare the story. Spoiler alert: The story ends up being rather lackluster and I have yet to see this “twist.”
I’ve read several other retellings of movies and some of them have been awesome while others were kind of worthless. The major difference that I have seen between an awesome retelling and a mediocre retelling is how far the story goes. What I mean is, if the story only contains what happens in the movie and doesn’t bring forth insight to the characters or the scenes, then it’s probably going to be either worthless or mediocre (depending on the writer’s ability to tell a story). Whereas a writer willing to go beyond the scenes in the movie and include original scenes, more insight to the characters, and take everyone up a notch or two in the scenes from the movie then it can be an amazing story. Again, a huge part of that is dependent on the writer’s own ability to tell a story.
This retelling of The Swan Princess falls into the no man’s land between those two categories because while there are original scenes they contribute little and the scenes written from the movie are mostly just the movie in words. Readers could just watch the movie rather than read it because there is no added value given to those scenes in the story. I’ll actually delve deeper into this later with some examples. For now I’ll cover the basics.
*Sits forward and using fingers, ticks off the issues.* First off, the grammar and spelling! I like to try and not nitpick at people for grammar and spelling because things happen; even published works contain mistakes. However, when these are consistent issues throughout the story, then I cannot ignore them. In this case the periods and commas come and go as they please, show up when they’re unneeded, and sometimes interchange spots. It bothers me when I see this: “?.” Or I read, “He said. ‘blah blah blah.’” *Groans.* It’s not like it happens every now and again but on a regular basis when characters speak.
Then there are the run-on sentences and the confusion between “your” and “you’re” or “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” Honestly, if anyone needs help in remember which version to use when, go to Youtube and search for CM Punk’s Grammar Slam. CM Punk breaks it down to simple basics and gives examples. It’s a great tool to use for people who get confused about which version to use or even just a refresher course. Tense issues litter this story. It’s meant to be written in the past tense but then future and present tense sneak in and wave to the Reader like an incompetent Waldo. Just basic mistakes that could’ve been fixed after a few revisions and they just glitter the story. *Winces.* It’s painful for me to read them.
Enough of my grammar lecture, let’s move on to a meatier issue with the story; *ticks off another issue* the point of view. For whatever reason, in a couple of the later chapters the POV will suddenly change from 3rd person to 1st person. One time it happened in the middle of the chapter with no indication of a change occurring.
See? This sort of thing happen a couple of times and I just don’t understand why! I’m not sure why it suddenly switches to first POV. Maybe there was some hope that the scene might be better if written in first POV, but if that’s the case then the whole story should’ve been written in first POV.
*Stands up on the couch.* If there are going to be situations like this then I need a proper soapbox.
Alright, listen and try to understand what I’m saying. When writing anything it’s important to be consistent with the POV and the verb tenses. A screw up here and there is no big deal but to have it be an on-going issue is unforgivable!
When it comes to POV, decide what viewpoint will best get across what is being conveyed. Is third person good enough? Or do you want to get the Reader inside the character’s mind? Or do you want the Reader to interact with the story? Determine this! It doesn’t have to be before you start writing, it can be while you’re in the middle of the story, but once you have it figured out then you have to be consistent. If that means going back through the entirety of the story and adjusting everything to accommodate to that POV, then you do it!! Do not half-ass these things and don’t be the lazy SOB who won’t go back and edit the parts of the story already written!
*Sits back down with legs crossed.*
Personally, I think that if the story had been written in first person from the alternating perspectives of Odette and Derek then it would have been more interesting and enlightening. The only issues I can foresee if the story was written entirely in first person are: 1. No indicators to show when viewpoint will change, or 2. Having the viewpoint change unnecessarily just to include a sentence or two about Derek/Odette’s feelings/thoughts on a single event. Otherwise, I think the story would have benefited greatly from the first person perspective.
*Ticks off another finger.* The way that Derek and Odette act at the ages of “four” and “eight” (I’m putting quotes because the story claims them to be at these ages but I think they were aged differently in the movie). They don’t act like four and eight year olds but more like teenagers at times with their words and behavior; it’s annoying! For example, on the way to meet Derek for the first…grr, I guess second…time, Odette becomes concerned with what kind of person Derek is rather than four-year old things like playing on a the ship. On the flipside, eight year old Derek wonders what his betrothed is like and if she’s a bratty princess.
*Blinks.* Excuse me? What kind of four and eight year olds wonder about these types of things! Seriously! Odette’s four, she should be more worried about playing and saying “hi” to strangers, not thinking about a boy she’s never met. Then Derek, he’s eight! He’s at that age where girls have cooties and now here comes this four year old to ruin his summer fun. Of course she’s going to be a brat in his mind but he wouldn’t be thinking of her in terms of future-wife! Come on now, consider their ages and remember what it was like when you were four and eight. I can say this for sure, romance-wise, as a child it was limited to playing house and re-enacting Disney movies with my friends. Even then, kissing on the lips was taboo with my friends.
But I digress. Again.
There are several other examples throughout the story, but I’m not going to bore Readers by listing them all off. Just be warned that there’re a lot of scenes where the kids don’t act their age.
*Another tick.* The inconsistencies between movie and story. There are moments where the scene is cut and paste from the movie but apparently when pasting the scene became deformed and changed. The first major inconsistency was when Derek and Odette meet to spend their first summer together (Awww…). In the movie Derek’s obviously not pleased to be there to greet Odette and he’s shown to be very antsy at his mother’s skirts. When greeting Odette he does so reluctantly—I heard it in his tone—and he tries to avoid kissing Odette’s hand but his mother forces him. Even Odette gives him a look that says, “Ew, he better not kiss it,” and once Derek kisses her hand he practically spits and wipes his lips while Odette rubs her hand against her dress and threatens him with her fists. That’s the movie version and it’s the version that makes sense for their ages—which I thought they were five and ten in the movie. This story’s version has them being very polite and civil with each other and Derek actually being in awe of Odette. They even decide to play swords together nicely. *Makes a face.* Story, they are four and eight years old according to you, what makes you think they’re going to get along that well?
*Stands up on couch.*
Okay PSA #2, any time the story is a retelling or novelization of something, pay close attention to the scenes from the original source. Especially with movies because any one can go back and double-check how close the two versions line up and while small mistakes are forgivable, completely changing the feel and actions of the scene is not easily forgiven. Sure, some stories like to point out things like, “It’s labeled AU,” or, “There’s a twist and this is part of it,” but those reasons don’t make up for it. Well, the AU reason has more footing than the twist one, but it really only works if the entire story has changed in some shape or form (setting, scenario, characters, etc.) and not in adjusting select scenes to fit the author’s fantasy.
Authors take heed, if you decide to write a novelization of a movie, TV show, video game, etc. do you’re research and take detailed notes of the scenes that are going to cross between the original source and your version. Try to be consistent with the original source. If you decide to go AU or add a “twist” then make certain the AU isn’t just an excuse to change select scenes and that the “twist” is something big and that doesn’t change the lead up, it can change the scenes following the “twist” but not the lead up.
*Sits back down.*
*Ticks off another finger.* The pacing. In the beginning the pacing wasn’t bad, other than a few questionable short scenes that added zero value it was fine. It wasn’t until chapter five when the pacing began to be rushed. Like it wasn’t just the pacing of the story–that got really bad around chapter eight—it was the pacing in the development of the romance. Everything felt so sudden like now that Odette was 14 she was suddenly composing love songs inspired by her feelings for Derek. It was almost like the story went, “Oh they’re teens now, and they total can be secretly in love with the other while acting like they don’t want the other on the outside.” I get the concept but the pacing felt rushed, on Odette’s side at least. Derek’s romantic feelings were far more realistic and what I would expect from a hormonal teenage boy who’s now starting to see this girl he’s known his whole life slowly becoming a woman.
By chapter eight though the pacing in terms of romance and events suddenly go out of control and it becomes a race to get to the next scene from the movie. All the filler, bridging moments that would bring insight are short-lived to the point where they could have not been there at all and Readers would get the same value from the scene. For example, after Odette says, “No,” to the engagement since Derek couldn’t think of anything else to say than that he loves her because she’s hot there is just a couple sentences describing her change in attire and getting on a horse before the farewell scene. Man, what a missed opportunity! There is so much that could have been done with that filler between the two scenes! King William or even Queen Uberta could’ve gone to her room to try and persuade her into reconsidering or extending the agreement for another year. Oh man…there’s so much that could have been done and yet it was filled with a few sentences that added zero value other than a description of Odette’s new dress.
Chapter eleven is entirely rushed. It’s the chapter where Odette realizes that she’s cursed and Rothbart explains his “diabolic” plans to her. The whole chapter is bland. There’s exposition and a dash of hapless, damsel in distress but otherwise it’s cut and paste from the movie. *Groans.* There’s so much that could’ve been done!
Okay, I’m diving into the issue I mentioned at the beginning of this review; going beyond what is in the original source by adding insight to the scenes and original scenes. I’ve been touching upon this issue throughout the review because it seems to be the basis for a lot of the issues in the story—not all, but a lot. So going off my comment about chapter eleven, that entire chapter could have been far more than what it is. This was a golden opportunity to explore Odette’s feelings and the possible terror that she feels upon discovering that her body is no longer her own. Or—oh!—explore the fact that as a swan she is no longer understood by humans but she now can understand the animals around her. So many things that could’ve made this chapter colorful and enlightening!
There are other moments that could have been made better if the story had gone up and above the call of duty. Like when Odette and Derek meet for the last time and they decide, “Hey marrying this person wouldn’t be so bad.” All that is offered is just the scene from the movie, no internal dialogues or an exploration of feelings, just the barest of necessary description and dialogue. Hell, I got more insight in the following chapter when it became Derek’s POV!
Another area that this story could have–and I believe should have–explored is Rothbart. Beyond providing a description of the scenes that Rothbart makes an appearance in, there’s nothing to his character. He’s 1D and it’s kind of sad because to me he’s a gold mine of a character! Think about it, the movie provides very little detail into this man’s past, his motives,—why does he want King William’s kingdom? Aren’t the other kingdoms good enough for him? What makes this kingdom so special?—where was he during the years of his exile, and why the hatred towards King William that extended to even his wife? Oh man, there’s just so much that isn’t provided in the movie and here was the best opportunity to make this 1D character become 3D in the Readers’ minds. *Eyes roll back in ecstasy.* I love characters like this that authors can play with and really fill them out instead of just labeling them as “evil!” Yet, *sighs in disappointment* this story doesn’t do anything with Rothbart and just leaves him as this 1D, “this is the villain” type character.
Another missed opportunity, and this coincides with the pacing, is the development of the romance. Obviously this is meant to be something that was gradually building on both sides but I don’t see that in the story. I see Odette suddenly being attracted to Derek for no explored reason and Derek’s hormones kicking into full speed during their final meeting. Little is explored with the romance. What makes Odette fall for Derek? Is it because he’s the only guy of noble blood and around her age that she’s been allowed to interact with? Is it because he turns out to be a hottie? Or is it something deeper? What about Derek, what makes him fall for Odette? Is it because she’s just constantly in his life, she’s “kind,” or because she’s suddenly becomes a hot babe? What is it! These are important questions!
*Takes a breath.* It’s just disheartening to see all these possibilities to make this story great yet the story just didn’t go far enough to make it great. Instead it settled for mediocrity. *Sighes.*
Enough of this dull stuff, let’s move on to the jolly good points! I know, it’s hard to believe that among all my complaints there’s something good to be found in this story.
Chapter six is the most believable chapter out of the entire story thus far. The characters act more their age and other than a few slight changes between movie and story it flourishes with original scenes that are only hinted at during the montage, musical number “This is My Idea.” It truly is the chapter that I had the least complaints about and actually had some positive remarks. I also liked that the story tried to be realistic in terms of manners and values for a medieval setting. Although it kind of gave way near the end, I appreciate the effort.
Despite my complaints the story did add original scenes and expand upon the movie in some areas, which is why I don’t put it in the “bad” category because effort was put into the story to make it more than just the movie put into words. So I give the story props in that respect. Could those scenes have gone further and done more? Yes, but at least they existed. It’s far better to have them exist and provide little then to not have them exist at all. I give credit where credit’s due.
Now to the ultimate question, would I recommend this story? No. I wouldn’t but I’m also not giving it a horrific score because while I find the story to be forgettable, it is not the worst story I have ever read and despite all the issues I found with the story I do not think I had wasted my time. This story is like a diamond in the rough, give it some TLC and a heavy dose of revision and it will shine. I see the potential in the story and it is redeemable, it would just take a lot of effort to take it to the level that I think it should be at. In short, I’m not giving it a low score because it doesn’t deserve a low score but I’m not going to recommend it either because it is rather forgettable and nothing special.
If Readers are interested by all means check out The Swan Princess by Mystery Girl 1213. Just don’t put your expectations too high.
See you all next time! Happy readings!