Gareth - Moving to Once Upon A Time, can you guide us through how the writing process is broken down for the show? Are choices made early on in the season with regards who will take on stories for different characters etc?
Jane - The writing process is very typical for a one-hour show. The staff, led by Eddy and Adam (Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz), starts each season crafting an overall shape, with arcs for the major characters. Lots of specific stories suggest themselves at this point, and a rough order of early episodes is determined. The staff then works together to “break” each story, one at a time, in quite a lot of detail – this takes a week or two.
As the episode starts taking shape, the author of the episode is told that they are going to be writing this one. They start putting their own mark on it as they write a brief summary of the episode, and then, later, a full outline. Before any script pages are generated, the staff, studio and network know every scene that is going to be in the episode, in order. This makes the final script writing fast and fun, because you get to expend all your energy on making the scene great, rather than on second guessing what happens in the scene. This is the best part, when you get to play with dialogue, attitudes, the way information rolls out, and all the little “business” of a scene.
We write our episodes quickly compared with other shows I’ve been on, and there is not usually a lot of rewriting or rebreaking, because the process is so thorough to that point. It’s a great, efficient, and creative process.
Gareth - “Skin Deep” is regarded as the masterpiece of season one by the majority of fans. Certainly, I felt it was the moment the bar was raised and we got a glimpse into a much darker story. Were you surprised by the reaction the episode received and the “RumBelle” phenomenon that came from it?
Jane - I kind of knew. I’m a fan myself, and I knew I was writing EXACTLY what I wanted to see. It just clicked. It’s the same with Husbands – as soon as we came up with the newlywed concept for that show, I knew we had hit on something potent. You can feel it when a romance is going to resonate. Of course, in both instances, it would never have sailed without amazing actors that make you feel that connection.
Gareth - Many of your OUAT episodes have revolved around Rumplestiltskin. He is such a complex character and Robert is just amazing in the role. Do you plan on bringing out different facets of his character more in season two? Will we see a more emotional Rumple/Mr Gold now that Belle is back?
Jane - Season two is going to allow us to dig more into ALL the characters. Rumplestiltskin is full of layers and I think you’re going to really enjoy the journey.
Gareth - Many fans felt that Rumple had not learned the lessons from his past when he unleashed magic on Storybrooke at the end of season one. It seemed like he was again putting power before love. If all magic has a price, will Rumple pay it in season two?
Jane - Some characters have a tragic flaw that no amount of learning seems to fix. Time will tell if Rumple will change. And maybe we shouldn’t assume that power and love have to always be at odds.
Gareth - Do you think that Rumple is redeemable? Many fans see him as the classic anti-hero. Is that how you perceive him? Why is he your favorite character on the show?
Jane - I think all characters are redeemable – if we didn’t believe that, then their failure to change wouldn’t be so tragic, when it happens. Yes, I’d say Rumple is redeemable… but does that mean he will be redeemed? That’s up to him. And he is my favorite character because he is both the funniest and the saddest.
Gareth - Can you give us a tiny hint of how magic will affect Storybrooke? Will magic spill out across the world or is it a localised problem? Is it possible that characters like Emma and Henry will learn to use magic?
Jane - I didn’t see any purple smoke leaving town, but we’ll have to watch and make sure. Even in Fairy Tale Land, not every character was able to generate magic, so I wouldn’t expect to see sparks shooting out of the top of Henry’s head. At least not yet.
Gareth - What can you tell us about the new characters being introduced (Mulan, Phillip, Lancelot, Hook, Aurora etc). Fans have reacted differently to the idea of Arthurian legends being incorporated into the show and are naturally curious as to how all these characters will interact with each other.
Jane - We saw Pinocchio last year, and Wonderland, and hints at some other worlds that are not strictly fairy tales. There are clearly other lands out there that contain other fictional and fictional-adjacent (like Mulan) characters. One of the things I love about our show is that these characters have had a long history of jumping between lands when they can, so that they may not all be strangers to each other.
Gareth - Season 1 was very much about Emma’s journey from denial to belief, as well as discovering her maternal love for Henry. What are thethemes and issues around season two and will Emma continue on the classic hero journey?
Jane - Season two has its own journey, one that will be revealed as the story unfolds. The relationship between Emma and Henry will continue to be crucial, as will Emma’s continuing journey as the savior of her people.
Gareth - Do you think we will see flashbacks of Emma growing up at some point? Fans would love to see the events that led up to her imprisonment etc.
Jane - That would be a bit of a break from our established format. There are no laws against breaking a format.
Gareth - Do you ever read the theories that fans come up with and do popular fan theories ever influence events that take place within the series? We had one member who posted that August was Pinocchio months before the episode aired. Do these theories reach the crews ears?
Jane - I don’t read the fan theories, but this was a thing that happened starting around the time I worked at Buffy: we’d hear that some fan on the posting board had figured out exactly where we were headed. If there was time, we might change something – obviously, we don’t want to tell a predictable story – but usually you just have to go ahead with the plan and hope that not too many people were spoiled, or that something in the execution will still be surprising.
We planted a lot of clues about Pinocchio, so it isn’t a shock to hear that people picked up on it. If you don’t have any kind of hints, then a reveal can feel unsupported and random, so you don’t want that either. I feel like the August reveal worked as we’d hoped.