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April 09, 2008

New Project - Tovenray's Curse

One thing I absolutely love about the program here at UCLA is the breakneck speed at which they force you to write. I'm still working on additional drafts on my Harriet story (watching all 6 DVDs of the Ken Burns Civil War Documentary to get a more historical flavor of the time and applying that to my pages), but already I have to start on the new story.

Tovenray's Curse is a family adventure fantasy. It could be animated. It could certainly be live action, too. This week I've been working hard, because today the "treatment" is due. The treatment is the whole story written as prose, without going into too much detail in certain areas. It's always a difficult exercise for me because "THE WHOLE STORY" is hard for me to figure out so soon in the game. But I did. Read on to check out my treatment so far.

By the way, it's my experience that the treatment and the final story are fairly different. Lots of things change when you actually start to write the pages.

Act 1 Voiceover and imagery tell the story of the beautiful KINGDOM OF TOVENRAY, perfect in every way. An evil creature, KELNIN (ageless) banishes the KING AND QUEEN of Tovenray, preventing them from ever returning with his dark magic. And now the oppressed subjects of this world wait to be set free from Kelnin’s curse.

LYRIC TOVENRAY (8) nods as she thinks about what her father, AARON (35), just read to her. He and Lyric’s mother, GWEN (32), wait intently for a reaction, holding manuscripts to the story.

“Kind of a dark choice, don’t you think?” Lyric asks. “You’ll scare the babies who love your stories.” Her little brother OLIVER (5) nods in agreement. “I’m scared of Kelnin.” Lyric shrugs, her point proven. Lyric then notices the time –

And is frantic as she prepares for her eighth birthday party. She’s upset to see statues and artwork from the Kingdom of Tovenray still spread throughout her house. She begs her parents to help her put them away. But her dad can’t tear himself away from playing “Escape from the Ogritch” (which is half Ogre, half witch) with Ollie. Only her mother makes any effort to help her out. Ollie in fact actively works against her, annoying Lyric to no end.

Lyric finds, to her horror, that her parents have set up a special shrine to her, and it includes her drawings of Faeries and Unicorns and Winged Kitties. And pictures of her fencing. And her archery awards. And her dressed up in traditional Tovenranian garb.

Just as her CHIC, TOO HIP FOR SECOND GRADE FRIENDS show up, she scrambles to gather up the shrine and hide it away. She’s flush, but she succeeds. And the party goes well. Except one of the girls thought the Kingdom of Tovenray – a popular charming series of fantasy stories – was really cool... when she was 3 years old. Lyric, embarrassed, laughs along and agrees, of course.

Everything seems to be moving smoothly, until gift time. Her parents give her... a PROPHECY BOX. Ornately carved, it looks like it comes right out of a Fairy Tale. Out of the Kingdom of Tovenray, where it’s a “tradition” to receive a Prophecy Box on your 8th birthday. (Her parents really take this thing too far sometimes.) Lyric manages to move onto the next present without too much damage but then –

Ollie walks into the room, carrying much of the Shrine Lyric thought she had hidden away. Her friends laugh at the drawings, of a picture of her dressed as a princess in Tovenray.

Lyric is ASHAMED and FURIOUS, and runs to her room and locks the door, declaring she HATES her family, HATES Ollie, and wishes she could stop being a TOVENRAY.

Her parents try to reason with her through the door, telling her to stop saying she hates these things, that words have power – and Tovenray’s words have even more power.

Lyric says it again, louder.

Later that night, Lyric is drawing at her desk, a new creature. It’s cute, kind of like a teddy bear. She’s hungry, but won’t leave the room. It’s raining and LIGHTNING FLASHES. And in her room, the creature she was drawing is now sitting on her bed. She can’t believe it, says she knows she ate too much sugar at her party. The creature is so friendly and tells her it’s here to make her life perfect on her 8th birthday.

It offers to take Ollie away to a place where people will really appreciate him, and make it so that no one even remembers him in this world. In fact, the creature will even make her parents forget about Tovenray, and make them normal parents. In her anger, Lyric agrees.

The cute creature becomes momentarily fearsome as it takes Ollie from his bed. He’s scared and looks to Lyric for comfort. She realizes what she has done, and tries to stop the creature, but fails. The creature opens a plumbing access in the closet, revealing a VAST CAVERN. Amid multicolor sparks, the creature and Ollie enter the cavern.

Lyric screams and follows into the darkened cavern. But she’s GRABBED from behind.

Her dad pulls her out of the access nook and back into Ollie’s room. She’s crying, frantic. Her parents can’t figure out why. They don’t remember having a son. There was no creature. Ollie’s room isn’t decorated like his room anymore. The plumbing access isn’t a cave, it’s just a hole in the wall with pipes in it.

It’s just a bad dream, they comfort her.

She wakes up the next morning the center of her parent’s attention. And all traces of Tovenray are gone from the house. This is the perfect life. But she can’t forget Ollie’s eyes as he was taken from his room.

She goes back into the plumbing access in the wall. She enters the cavern.

Act 2
She creeps forward and hears things moving around her, sees dark shapes moving in the shadows. She breaks into a run, trying to get away from some creatures that are after her. She reaches the mouth of the cave and nearly runs over a STEEP CLIFF. She stops short, caught between a rapidly approaching creature in the cave and the drop off. And it’s raining, thunder, lightning.

A FLYING BLUR OF MOVEMENT swoops in and picks her up just as a fierce creature leaps from the cave and falls over the cliff.

She’s riding through the sky on the back of a FLYING KITTY (just like the ones she draws) and beside a elven looking teen, TORIN. As they fly, Lyric looks down on a desolate, dark, damaged world. “What is this horrible place?”

Torin answers, “Let me show you how it should look.”

They land in the most perfect grove and every little girl’s dream ensues. Faeries and tea parties and dancing and just this honeymoon period for Lyric. But then she remembers. Ollie.

She tells the story of her birthday and Torin instantly knows that Kelnin is behind this. He realizes it was her 8th birthday and asks what her Prophecy Box said. She admits she never opened it. Now they must go to the Wise Prophet and get her prophecy so she knows what to do.

Cut to Ollie, who’s imprisoned by Kelnin. But Kelnin is being seductively nice, playing on Ollie’s worst instincts, grooming him to be his rightful heir. Kelnin has a daughter, CHANCE (8) who thought she would be the next ruler, but she’s too kind hearted to impress Kelnin.

Lyric mentions her last name, and Torin is amazed. He takes her to a secret ruin, an old castle where a band of rebels lives. There she sees cracked stain glass portraits of HER PARENTS as KING AND QUEEN. They are the banished rulers of this land. This is the KINGDOM OF TOVENRAY. The real one, not just a storybook.

Lyric doesn’t believe it. THIS is Tovenray, the beautiful Kingdom she loved as a young girl and came to hate recently? No way.

The rebels, a ragtag bunch, look at Lyric with respect. They tell her she’s here to lead them against Kelnin. Lyric rejects that, says Tovenrays are nothing special, she just needs to save her brother. She leaves them disappointed.

Lyric wants to head towards Kelnin’s fortress, rescue Ollie and go home. Torin convinces her to do so would be madness without her prophecy.

Lyric and Torin set off for the Wise Prophet, but their flying Kitty is injured and they must walk through dangerous areas. Lyric has to remember things her parents told her, stupid stories that aren’t so stupid anymore, in order to survive. She becomes convinced that they are in Tovenray when one of their stories comes true.

They are met by Chance, who warns them that Ollie is turning into a bad boy. Lyric must save him, because Kelnin has planned a ceremony that will solidify Ollie as his evil heir. In a week.

Lyric decides she needs to go get Ollie without the prophecy, they are wasting their time. She needs to save her brother now, whether they have the prophecy or not.

Lyric rejects Torin, leaving him behind, and journeys with Chance. They realize they look very similar. Lyric dresses up like Chance and makes her way into the fortress, past the guards.

Lyric has a confrontation with Kelnin, who reveals himself as truly evil and scary.

Lyric visits Ollie in his opulent room – they have a nice moment together... To escape the castle, which Ollie doesn’t really want to do, she makes him dress up like a dwarf. He doesn’t want to dress up like a dwarf because dwarves are little and he’s becoming a big boy.

They have an annoying fight. But she convinces them they have to go, and they escape, just barely. And only with the help of Torin, who was shadowing them.

Torin takes them back to the ruined castle, where everyone is thrilled to see the Tovenray children. Finally, the curse will be lifted. Ollie is the son sent to break it. Ollie loves the attention, and Lyric gets jealous... she doesn’t get why it all has to revolve around her annoying little brother.

Lyric tells everyone that it’s time for her and Ollie to go back to their world. She came to get him, and their job is complete.

There will be no restoration of the kingdom. The ragtag bunch of rebels begin to fight with each other, tearing apart whatever community they had... their hopes dashed.

As Lyric and Ollie make their way back to the cavern, they walk through a peaceful town just as it is attacked by Kelnin’s army (who fly over the landscape on Winged Hairy Spiders, it’s very scary) and Lyric sees how horrible life is with Tovenray under a curse. She sees a little girl (who she made an emotional connection with earlier) crying.

She turns back towards the ruined castle.

Kelnin does not call off the ceremony which will solidify Ollie’s evilness. He predicts tthe boy will be there... senses something in Ollie that will make him a good heir. Senses that Ollie wants it.

Lyric and Ollie’s entrance into the ruined castle pulls the rebels back together. Lyric pulls together a few of their best fighters (herself included, with the archery and horseback riding training and all), and they fight off Kelnin’s forces from the nearby village.

Word of this magical little girl and her brother inspires more subjects of Tovenray, who gather at the ruined castle. People start to restore the castle. A fractured stained glass portrait of the King and Queen is fixed and lifted so the sun can shine through it.

They free more villages, claiming more and more of Tovenray. Lyric and Ollie start working together, learning more about each other’s strengths, and they make a good team. Ollie actually saves Lyric at one point, and she grows to appreciate him more.

Of course, this is all driving Kelnin crazy. He disguises himself as that cute creature that visited Lyric on the night of her birthday and heads out into the woods.

Lyric has a clever plan for how to restore the kingdom, based on things she learned from her parents and her own unique smarts. Ollie doesn’t like it. They disagree... in front of everyone. He pushes all her buttons, like only a little brother can. She tells him she hates him and doesn’t need him to win. He runs off... hurt. Lyric doesn’t follow him.

He’s found by the cute creature (Kelnin in disguise), who comforts him and takes him back to the fortress. Ollie becomes convinced that he can be king without Lyric, and a better king because of it. But in a quiet moment alone when he momentarily mistakes Chance for Lyric, he admits that he misses his sister.

Ollie’s adoption ceremony is publicized far and wide, and Lyric decides the best time to attack for the final showdown with Kelnin would be then. She’s angry that Ollie has joined Kelnin. “He’s made his choice.”

The plan executes brilliantly, and everything seems to be falling into place. Except the last bit. Kelnin protects himself with Ollie, where Lyric cannot hurt Kelnin without also hurting Ollie. Ollie won’t step aside from Kelnin. “We will soon be one, you see, you cannot attack me without attacking your brother.” Lyric can’t bear to hurt Ollie, as annoying as he is. Lyric puts down her weapons,

Kelnin offers her a sweet deal. She can return to her world, where she and her parents will no longer be Tovenrays, and will have no connections to this world any longer. Ollie will stay among people who love him and be their king.

It’s the life she always wanted. She just has to sign away her rights to this world. Her other choice is death.

At the mention of death, Ollie gets upset at Kelnin. He moves away from him, and throws a bow and quiver to Lyric. Lyric quickly shoots Kelnin. But Kelnin is too strong to be taken down by just her. Ollie has to show off his sword skills. They work together to defeat Kelnin.

At Ollie’s coronation, the curse is broken and their parents – Aaron and Gwen – join them, in their Kingly and Queenly regality. Aaron hands Lyric her Prophecy Box. The Prophecy reads that the Curse can only be broken when Sister supports Brother, and Brother supports Sister, and they must rule together. They are both crowned rulers of the Kingdom of Tovenray.

Posted by jason on April 9, 2008 11:24 AM


needs more cowbell.

Posted by: ian on April 9, 2008 03:19 PM

really fun to read - great imagination!

but those names might need to change! who would believe that parents would be insane enough to call their children lyric and ollie?

Posted by: jonathan on April 9, 2008 11:35 PM

Well I must admit this is my favorite of your works so far. Really great story, but I agree with Jonathan; I suppose names like Charis and Cozette are MORE believable, maybe you should use those instead.

Posted by: Anonymous on April 10, 2008 02:23 AM

eww please spell cosette right.

Posted by: Anonymous on April 10, 2008 10:36 AM

haha--I am pretty sure I know who left that last comment...jase, this is awesome--it was really sad when Ollie turned bad, though--I am so glad that everything turned out well!

Posted by: jessica on April 10, 2008 08:06 PM

Love it. Very fun with a great moral. I also can't wait until the game comes out, b/c I want to play "Escape from the Ogritch" too!

Posted by: Chris on April 11, 2008 07:02 AM

Eww is right! If I'm going to make fun of Jonathan for making fun of Jason, at the expense of two darling girls, then the least I can do is show some respect and preview my post before I submit. Totally my bad. Sorry Cosette. But seriously, this is such a fun story and I would really love to see Tovenray on the big screen one day.

Posted by: Anonymous on April 11, 2008 08:32 AM

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