Strong Women of Fantasy: Glinda and Ozma of Oz

I’ve written several posts about strong women characters in sci-fi and fantasy. My goal is to highlight some well-written female characters who are strong leaders, every bit equal to men, and yet still feminine. In this post, I’ll cover two female lead characters from the “Oz” books.

Let me begin by repeating that a strong female character is not a male character in a woman’s body. Women are inherently different in more than just biology, and those differences are important to portray well in fiction if a strong female character is to be believable. Yes, women can be warriors, leaders, and protectors (traditionally male attributes), just as men can be gentle, calming, and nurturing. But in a story, a strong female character needs to be so much more than just a gender-swapped man.

Many fantasy and sci-fi stories have an overwhelmingly male cast. All too often, the “token female” is just that—serving either as romance/sexual tension, and/or to simply say “this story is all about equality because look a woman.”

There’s no romance in the original Oz books by L. Frank Baum, primarily because they were written for young children. Even with some of the reimaginings of the Oz stories featuring romance to different degrees, most of the best Oz retellings stay fairly true to the strength of the female characters in the original tales.

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When the Movie is Better than the Book, Part 2

As a writer of books, I often feel guilty when I like a film adaptation better than the book that inspired it. I feel sort of like a traitor to my craft, as it were. But ultimately, I like a good story—and sometimes, the movie tells a better story than the book. In this post, I explained in detail why I think that the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz told a better story than Baum’s original classic book.

Here is a list of some other movies that I think are better than their original book inspirations. In most of these cases, I feel that the movie version told a more cohesive story—whether it be fewer extraneous sub-plots, better pacing, fewer minor characters, or just plain easier to follow. In some cases, the movie ending was more positive or satisfying than the book ending, which is something I’m partial to. Continue reading

Stories that Make Me Happy

For this week’s post, I’m publishing a bit later in the week than I normally do because I’m participating in the Classic Movie Ice Cream Social blog-a-thon, hosted by Movies Silently. While I must confess that I haven’t watched a great many silent films, I thoroughly enjoy reading the blog, and I’ve learned a lot about the art of storytelling as it’s done through the vehicle of silent film. 

A good story is a good story, in my opinion, whether it’s a book, a musical, a comic, a silent film, a poem, or a song. So for this blog-a-thon, I’m sharing two of my favorite classic films that I think not only tell a good story, but just plain make me feel happy.

The Wizard of Oz

I’ve blogged about The Wizard of Oz numerous times before, because, well, it’s The Wizard of Oz. I love all of Baum’s Oz books, and I love the musical Wicked, but for me what started it all was watching the classic 1939 movie on TV as a kid. I know I’m dating myself here, but when I was really little, The Wizard of Oz would air on network TV once a year, and the whole world (or at least my family) would drop everything for the evening and watch it. We had two television sets (I know, we were big time), and thankfully one of them was a color set. Ah, that magical moment when Dorothy opens the door of her dingy house into the brightly colored world of Oz! Of course I now have the movie on DVD and can watch it any time I want, but it always takes me back to the special days when it was a rare treat. Continue reading

Four Things

This week I’m stealing my blog topic from my friend Jessica over at Chronically Vintage. She’s a lovely person and blogs about vintage fashion, which is something I knew little about until I started writing historical fiction.

Anyway, the idea of this post is to not talk about writerly stuff per se, but rather to reveal some slightly more personal things about me. So here we go – four things about me: Continue reading

Sequel Syndrome – It’s not a New Thing

You know that awesome movie or book that becomes a sudden best-selling blockbuster? Everyone loves it, so what’s the next thing that happens? Yep – a sequel. And frequently, the sequel is nowhere near as excellent as the first one. Sometimes, if the sequel isn’t a total bomb (or even if it is), then an entire series is spawned out of something that probably should have remained a one-shot. (Anybody remember sequels that shouldn’t have happened, like Jurassic Park II and III, or many of the Disney animated direct-to-video sequels of the 90s?)

This is known as “sequel syndrome,” and it’s not actually something created by Disney or 90s adventure movies.It’s been a thing for about as long as we’ve had commercial entertainment. Continue reading

10 More Wonderful Quotes from Oz

I recently compiled a list of ten great quotes from the various Oz stories – everything from Baum’s original tales to the 1939 movie to Wicked the Musical. But I couldn’t stop at just ten. Even if you’re not an Oz buff, I’m sure you can find a witty or meaningful quote in this bunch.

 

“Everything in life is unusual until you get accustomed to it.” The Scarecrow, from The Marvelous Land of Oz

Says the man made of burlap and straw. Point taken. Different isn’t bad – it’s just different.OzHat

 

“So much of me is made from what I learned from you. You’ll be with me, like a handprint on my heart.” Elphaba, from Wicked the Musical

This is one of the best quotes about friendship I’ve ever come across, and reminds us that a love story does not have to be about sex and romance.

 

“But in Oz we are loved for ourselves alone, and for our kindness to one another, and for our good deeds.” Princess Ozma, from The Road to Oz

Even in Oz society is not always as perfect as Ozma claims here, but to her credit, this is a creed that she herself lives by and employs as she rules her people. And here on earth we’d do well to keep this attitude more in our daily lives.

 

“Nothing’s impossible if you just put your mind to it.” Oz, from Oz the Great and Powerful

Just remember that if a small-town circus performer could defeat two wicked witches with this attitude, then you can do anything.

 

“The only way to do a thing
Is do it when you can,
And do it cheerfully, and sing
And work and think and plan.
The only really unhappy one
Is he who dares to shirk;
The only really happy one
Is he who cares to work.”
Johnny Dooit, from The Road to Oz

This little rhyme speaks the truth for itself, I think.

 

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” The Wizard, from The Wizard of Oz

This is so true. And one who is deeply loved usually can’t help but love in return.

 

“No one can be unlucky who has the intelligence to direct his own actions.” Scraps, from The Patchwork Girl of Oz

The stuffed patchwork doll named Scraps displays almost Scarecrow-level wisdom with this statement. Even in the most unfortunate of circumstances, we still have free will and can make choices.

 

“We get up at noon and start to work at one. Take an hour for lunch and then at two we’re done. Jolly good fun!” The citizens of Emerald City, from The Wizard of Oz

This is my kind of workday. Can I live here? This line is from the song “The Merry Old Land of Oz”; so if you’ve seen the movie, you now have that song in your head. You’re welcome.

 

“But those as knows the least have a habit of thinkin’ they know all there is to know, while them as knows the most admits what a turr’ble big world this is.” Cap’n Bill, from The Scarecrow of Oz

Sad but true. I’m sure we’ve all met an ignorant know-it-all or two.

 

“He had nine book-trees, on which grew a choice selection of story-books. …the books were picked and husked and ready to read. If they were picked too soon, the stories were found to be confused and uninteresting and the spelling bad. However, if allowed to ripen perfectly, the stories were fine reading and the spelling and grammar excellent.” from Tik-Tok of Oz

I love the magical land that Baum invented, where most anything you could want probably grows on a tree somewhere. I also love Baum’s not-so-subtle hint to aspiring authors everywhere: if you pick (publish) your book too soon, without giving it time to ripen (with rewriting, revising, and editorial help), then most readers will be confused, bored, or just get bogged down in grammatical errors.

Bonus quote:

“Eleka nahmen nahmen ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen.” Elphaba, from Wicked the Musical

I put this in here to be funny, because nobody knows what this means. And if you’ve seen Wicked, then you are now singing the song “No Good Deed.” You’re welcome.