Featured image “The Countess,” by hanna.digiart (@HDigiart)
// Hi! I wanted to do something new and add this to the blogroll today, taking the chance while there’s a lull in the Russo-Arendellian War event to discuss with you some “behind-the-scenes” talk. Specifically, about the plethora of OCs in this project.
I’d love to get your thoughts about OCs as well. What are we getting right, and what can we do better? Feel free to make any comments below or join the discussion on The AG’s Twitter account, @arendelleguard1.
I remember coming across an anonymous comment by someone who’d visited The Arendelle Guardian. They’d posted on a forum our movie poster-themed promotion of Anna’s story with the Exalted (below). The caption was something along the lines of, “This makes more sense when you read the thing.”
Their comment was pretty funny, but it also raised an important point: how can you make your OCs merge seamlessly into the world you’re writing about?
One of the most fun but difficult aspects of this fanfiction project was creating compelling OCs that would expand the world of Arendelle in the 19th Century, but also be connected to the canon characters in a meaningful way. Shortly after founding this website, I was rapidly running out of room for Anna to move in, because it was just impossible to dangle nameless, faceless “baddies” in front of Anna and expect anyone to be interested. Since Frozen 2 had no villain and Hans wasn’t a long-term option, I needed to make one up. Of course, OCs aren’t necessarily villains, but readers and writers are as fascinated by villains, if not more, than protagonists. I needed a character who could be both.
The problem is not so much the number of OCs; but whether they can be interesting individually while not elbowing Anna and Elsa out of the spotlight. This newspaper will always have Frozen and Frozen 2 at its core.
From the outset I made a promise to always keep Anna and Elsa at the centre of this project. Every OC is defined by how they interact with Anna first; only then will I flesh out their backstory and relationships with other canon characters or OCs. Now that it’s been a year since I launched this fictional newspaper, I’m happy to say that I’ve been more successful than not. I’ll be trying a different approach in the post-Russo-Arendellian War event arc, but that’s for another day.
In fact, it’s almost a bit strange that I haven’t gotten more flak for the many OCs in The AG. I think it was due to the initial goodwill that my first OC, Viola Mundilfari, enjoyed (more on her below). I think her enduring appeal among our small readership “cushioned” my future creations, in a way, and encouraged me to populate The AG world with more OCs.
I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts about Vi as a character, and why she seemed to fit well into our world. I might do this with future OCs, but for now, the first OC I created will do.
Viola Mundilfari: A Villain-Turned-Ally
A believable head of state, even the most well-intentioned, has foreign and domestic enemies. Also, the protagonist needs a formidable yet sympathetic antagonist who can push her to defeat that antagonist, grow, and even see things in a different light. Countess Viola Mundilfari was conceived of as “domestic enemy” that could match Anna in pedigree (she’s from a noble family that manipulated the Arendellian throne for centuries and claims an older Viking heritage), cunning, and resources. She even owns a newspaper, a rival to The AG called the Snow Herald. She needed to be villainous and I made her prone to fits of anger, taunting, and hurting others emotionally. But I designed her with a particular elegance, beauty, and complexity in mind: I wanted her to be a sympathetic villain, and over time readers seemed to like her so much that my for her trajectory was almost inevitable: from tragic villainess to anti-heroine and ally.
Vi was basically Anna’s opposite, but in a way that drew them to each other. Not only was she basically ruling a fief within a kingdom, but she also had clear goals that Anna opposed: destroying Northuldra and seizing Elsa’s powers for the demon that held her family to his thrall for hundreds of years. This presented Anna with two challenges: to outwit her politically while also persuading her at the emotional and moral level that it wasn’t Anna who needed to join her, but Vi who needed to join Anna. Anna creating the post of prime minister, a constitutionally unprecedented act in Arendelle’s history, also symbolically bound Vi’s clan to Anna and Elsa’s, which I felt to be quite in-character for Anna: defeat an enemy by uniting them to her.
I think Vi helped us see that Anna could be a good politician that understood leverage and sources of power. Anna also had that emotional and moral gravity that could pull someone like the Countess into her orbit.
The next arc after Q1’s war event will pose a similar challenge to Anna, but on a much grander scale.
Power is an aphrodisiac, whether in House of Cards or State of Play, and it’s no different in this project. Even before their arc (Queen and Countess) was concluded, the emotional tension between Anna and Vi almost wrote itself. I don’t know if it’s just because they haven’t bothered writing in to critique me, but I know of no one who dislikes Vi, or has issues with the many scenes of unresolved romance she enjoys with Anna. The chemistry between Anna and Vi, in my opinion, lent a flavour of illicit glamour and allure to Anna’s political world. I’m still very pleased with the dynamic. While it’s my headcanon, it doesn’t refute any of Anna’s canon ships among the fandom (I’m very careful about shipping full stop, lest readers feel excluded). Despite their mutual attraction, I keep Anna anchored in her love for Kristoff, while Vi has two adoring women to take care of her: Commander Hilde and Tess Gaunt.
The transformation of Vi into Arendelle’s First Vampire in her standalone story, “Countess Vi: Gothic,” was foreshadowed by her physical appearance as well as the gradual opening of her heart thanks to Anna’s influence. By the end of her adventure in London, Vi saved Tess’s life by doubling down on her contract with her demon master, effectively giving up all hope of escaping him. Her curse as the blood matriarch now condemns her to an eternity serving Mephistopheles, yet this act of infernal damnation was paradoxically a result of her first truly selfless act. For me, and hopefully for readers, this is a fitting completion of Vi’s character arc, setting her up as one of Arendelle’s more complex noble and supernatural protectors.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and interacting with Vi as much as I’ve loved bringing her to life. I’ve yet to really bring up the OCs closest to Vi, Commander Hilde and Tess. Maybe they’ll be the next subject for a future blog post about The AG’s behind-the-scenes work on worldbuilding and OCs, followed by the Exalted and more.