Preparation work for Assignment 5 – Story 2

Assignment 5 – Fantasy Lands
Story 2

Key Elements:

  • Two child protagonists – brother and sister?
  • Target audience age: 9-12 year olds
  • Quest theme
  • Danger – potential conflict
  • Mysterious creature
  • Arch enemy
  • Good vs bad
  • Use a different POV (omniscient) – I have not written in this POV yet and would like to see how it feels
  • Write a section from a longer story so that it leaves the reader wanting to find out what happens

Inspiration for story:

  • Greek myth – Labyrinth / Minotaur / Jason & The Argonauts
  • A quest or journey to seek something or get something back that’s been stolen
  • Two opposing lands – good vs bad
  • Two opposing leaders
  • A stolen object that compromises the wellbeing of the good land and its people

Preparation work for Assignment 5 – Story 1

Assignment 5 – Fantasy Lands
Story 1

Key Elements:

  • Lead child protagonist
  • Target audience age: 5-7 year olds
  • Conflict
  • Danger
  • Magical resolution
  • Arch enemy
  • Humourous

Lead protagonist characterisation:

  • Female
  • Holly Toogood
  • 10 years old
  • Normal height for age
  • Long blonde hair
  • Blue eyes
  • Freckles
  • Small square glasses
  • Tiny frame; like a mouse
  • Younger brother, Timothy (a loner)
  • Loving, “normal” parents
  • Adventurous

Part 5, Project 2: Exercise – A Menacing Presence

The two passages that are included in the course material here are incredibly similar:

  • They both have menacing figures
  • The faces of the figures are covered creating a feeling of ill-ease and distrust, threat
  • They are clothed in a black hooded robe, long, dark and evil-looking
  • The figures don’t speak
  • The figures, rather than speaking, utter odd noises; breaths or sniffs
  • The figures keep their distance

All of these elements are incredibly frightening and create a very unique, haunting atmosphere….it’s going to be hard NOT to draw on these techniques for the next exercise but here goes!

A Menacing Presence:
Holly wasn’t sure what was behind the door in the attic.  She’d gone to visit Granny and Granddad many times before, but she couldn’t remember seeing this door before.

Slowly, she pressed her small hand around the cold brass doorknob and turned. It gave way with a slight squeak and the door yielded, releasing a slight draft of musty, moth-ball smelling air from within.

For some reason, despite it being a gloriously hot summers day, Holly felt a chill run up and down her spine as she entered the long, thin dormer room.  Cobwebs hung from the rafters which criss-crossed before her.  The two sloping ceilings either side held it all together and the floor was a series of creaky wooden boards that stretched to the far end.

Holly stepped into the room.  Her heart was thumping.  Maybe it was because she knew her grandparents didn’t know that she was here was the reason she felt on edge?

She walked very gently onwards and soon spotted a tall, gilt-edged floor-standing mirror propped up in the corner.  Cobwebs hung in swathes over it along with many years worth of dust and Holly instinctively wiped her sleeve against the glass.  Beneath the grim, her reflection quickly emerged.  Seeing herself standing in such a strange, cold, confusing room unnerved Holly and she turned away from it.

All at once she froze.  She couldn’t say what was immediately in front of her causing her to feel instant and paralysing terror because she couldn’t see anything.  But needless to say, whatever it was had her rooted to the spot.  She was completely incapable of doing anything except breathing short, raspy gasps that staccato-tapped the motionless air.

Holly knew she wasn’t alone.  There was something, someone with her. The air crackled around her with some sort of energy.  Holly was only 10 years of age but she knew, acutely, that whatever was here with her wanted her gone.

She didn’t know what to do.  She felt her eyes prick with tears and her body began to shake uncontrollably.  She shut her eyes.  Holly did this routinely when in bed and a thunderstorm battled the skies above their house at night. It made her feel safe; she would then open her eyes when the storm had passed.

And whilst there was no thunder or lightening to pass now, Holly felt there was a storm of a different kind happening all around her.  No amount of eye-shutting was going to help her now.  She needed to get out and now.

She turned back towards the mirror.  A shard of light from one of the dormer windows had crossed the top right segment of the reflective surface and for a fleeting moment, Holly thought she saw something looking back at her. A tall motionless outline shimmered behind her.  There was no distinct detail, no face, no hands or feet.  Just this looming, threatening outline that leered at her.

The only way out for Holly was to pass by, or, God forbid, pass through it.  She didn’t want to imagine taking her body through this entity.  Was this what people called a ghost?  Holly knew without doubt that this was more than just a ghost; it was a Thing.

At the end of the long, silent room Holly could see the door, deliberately left open slightly, creating a thin slither of light that outlined the left side of the entrance.  It was now her goal, her escape-route; her sanctuary.

How was she going to move when every limb, every muscle felt so incredibly numb and heavy?  She was only able to face the mirror by pivoting slowly on her tiptoes.  She hadn’t needed to lift a foot or move a leg.  And the tremors ricocheting through her body now was rendering her almost incapable of getting her breath under control.

She blinked quickly over and over.  The dust in the air was drying her eyes and she was having trouble focusing.  Now that she was effectively facing the Thing, there was absolutely nothing to see, no shimmering outline, no suggestion of anything.  It was what Holly felt that terrified her the most.

Suddenly, and with the most terrific sense of urgency and spontaneous energy, Holly ran.  She screwed her eyes tightly and flung herself forward, her arms guiding her blindly through.  As she moved forward, she knew that she must be passing through It and at once felt her stomach lurch upwards.  The tops of her shoulder blades felt ice cold and she thought she could be sick.

She kept running, bashing into the rafters, the sloping ceiling walls, a chair, a wooden chest, more obstacles than she cared for. She knew that she would be covered in bruises in days to come.  For what felt like an eternity, Holly now opened her eyes and continued forward as quickly as she could.

As she reached the door, she actually thought about glancing back; she paused even as her hand took the brass handle once more.  The Thing was still there, watching her leave; she could feel it. Holly considered that if it did have a face, its expression would be one of triumphant smugness.  It had succeeded in getting her out of its space.  For that, Holly was determined to pull the door open and close it behind her as quickly as possible.

As the door closed behind her, Holly stood still, her back leaning against the wood, her hands shaking furiously.  Swathes of dust and grim were spread all over her T-shirt, through her hair, up her arms.  How was she going to explain this to her grandparents?

She closed her eyes once more and tried to get her breathing under control.  As she did so, the loudest most furious crash came from behind her forcing Holly to leap away from the door….


Part 5, Project 2: Exercise – A Magic Chair

The chair sits quietly tucked into the table in the corner of the room.  It is a fairly nondescript four-legged, armless dining chair with an upright spindled back and struts between the legs keeping it together.

There is a central pattern carved into the middle piece of wood to the back of it, like a small wheel.  Sitting upon it is a cushion, tied on with long fabric straps.  A deep cushion decorated with whimsical images of owls, flowers and roosters, perhaps more in keeping with a kitchen setting than a living room, but a pretty cushion nonetheless.

Holly, a small 10 year old girl from along the street, has visited this afternoon to return a book that she borrowed.  She enjoyed reading it so much that she insisted on returning it straight away to make sure it came back safely, which was very touching and a little on the earnest side for such a young child.

Of all the chairs she could have sat on, she pulls out the wooden armless dining chair and flops down upon it, as though the weight of the world is on her small shoulders.  She then starts to play with the fabric ties looped around the back, folding and unfolding the taut cotton between her fingers.

All of a sudden, she starts to whisper quietly as though reciting a poem or reading:

“Of little things in little places,
Move with whirling sounds,
Go up away, go up away
Take flight to places unfound”

And before I could see what happens next in any great detail, like you do in a dream when you play it back in your mind over and over, the chair hovers above the floor, turns ever so slightly in mid-air and starts moving across the room.  The little girl looks like she’s in a trance and she continues to recite those words over and over as the chair starts to gain a little height, dancing erratically.

I’m terrified.  I can’t move.  I can’t work out what’s going on and the expression on the child’s face is disturbing; has she been possessed; is she under some sort of spell?  I try to help her, reach up towards the chair but it jerks away from me in the air, snatching the child further and further away from me.  I notice that the huge sash window to the opposite side of our room is wide open and the chair is moving towards it.

Panic-stricken, I run blindly towards the opening hoping to reach it before the inevitable happens.  Alas, I am too late and too slow.  The chair instinctively knows my movements and, with its precious cargo on board, whizzes out into the warm summer day.  Gone.

I crane my head out to follow its path into the sky.  Holly is now gripping the back of the chair tightly, a look of fear on her face.  What will her mother think?  She has stopped reciting the words and looks like she could start crying at any moment.  It’s the tiny people walking beneath her that frighten her; she’s so high up.  She didn’t mind it so much when they were in the room (and she had it under her control whilst she spoke the magic words) but the second it left the house, it took control.  Holly didn’t know that it could do this.  Initially, she didn’t mind feeling the sunshine on her face, the wind wipping through her long blonde hair.  But as soon as she noticed the little, tiny people the size of ants beneath her feet, all hope drained from her face and she felt quite sick.

“Come back!  Come back this instance, Chair!” I shout, hoping in a largely helpless manner that my pleas will make some difference.  I think I see the chair falter slightly near a lamp-post as I speak, as though it has heard me and I have affected it in some way. Holly sees me waving frantically and calling; she waves back but quickly regains her grip with both hands, the unpredictable nature of the chair’s flight really scarying her.

I call out once more and this time, the chair definitely hears me.  I know because it literally stops moving around and simply hovers. “Come back to the house, Chair.  Bring Holly back.  She didn’t want to fly outside. Come back!”

Low and behold, with a little quiver and a wobble, it moves Holly back to the window, swooping slow and low until it finally plops down in the middle of the room.  It momentarily jiggles on its legs, as though finally deciding that it wants to be on the rug, and then nothing.  No more floating, jerking, whizzing or flying; it’s a chair again.

Holly hops off as quickly as possible, like a leaping gazelle who acts like her bottom’s on fire.  Once away from the offending furniture, she turns and stares at it in disbelief.

“What were you saying when you first sat down, Holly?  I think it made it fly.”

“Oh, just something a man once taught me when he came round to fix our sofa. They reckoned it did magical things to furniture…but not every piece just certain items.  I didn’t really believe him.  I definitely didn’t think that it would work.”

I smiled.

“Well, I think you’ve proved it does work.  I would be very careful next time you take a seat and remember that rhyme, don’t you?!”

“Yes….I think so!”

And she left.  I picked up the chair and put it away, staring at it briefly.  As I walked out to the kitchen, I could have sworn I heard something rattling slightly.


Part 5, Project 2: Exercise – Spells & Chants

Here is a witch’s spell to make a fish talk:

Come hither, Shilfa Beb
To the water’s edge
Open thy gills of wisdom
Let speech be your mistress


Toil no more bubbles
Your fins move in time
Let fire fill your lungs
And words fill your mind