What will your protagonist learn? How will they grow?
She will learn that there is plenty of life left to live, and finally escape self-doubt and the doubts of other inflicted on her because of her age
Why does it matter if they go on this journey? Not going on and completing this journey would perpetuate agism and reinforce what everyone keeps telling her: that her life is behind her and that all she has left is making herself comfortable and embracing the end.
What is the alternative (what if they fail)? If she fails, she loses her dreams of living a life in the present, and accepts the daunting narrative that her life really is already over.
Why do YOU care about this story? I volunteered with elders and saw how they either clung to their past, or to each new days adventure (chatting excitedly about what they’d crafted, where they’d been recently, etc). While reminiscing about the past can be fun, in a lot of cases it comes with a sadness borne from the belief that those sparks of life are long gone. It is heartbreaking when that’s all someone has left - a balance of both is ideal, but society endorses the narrative that our senior citizens time is up, and often packs them away in homes out of sight and out of mind, where they wither and wait for death.
What is your theme? (Keep it simple) (one or two sentences) Nothing is over until it’s over. It’s not right to give up on someone before they are gone.
(3-5 sentence summary of your story, with reference to your theme) A classic fantasy adventure about never losing hope; with the intent to remind people of all ages that you're never too old to believe in yourself and keep living your life. In the face of a society that practices putting their elders to rest before they are dead, Martha (Marty) rejects the status quo and against all odds proves that there is no age limit when it comes to achieving your dreams.
Who is your protagonist at the start? Martha, a senior citizen
Who/what makes them embark on this journey? When her strong belief that she has a destiny is fortuitously met by a magic door that appears in the wall, without hesitation, Marty races toward it.
What skills, values, or powers do they pick up along the way? Martha gains self confidence, self actualization, and a community who acknowledges her and sees her as more than just a shade, but as a contributing member of their society.
Who/what wants to stop them? There is a prophecy in a far away land long before Marty’s magical door, which bestows bad news upon the kingdom. It is said that the king would perish without a male heir and his younger brother would fail to save the kingdom from joining his demise. Their only hope of disrupting this fate is to be rescued by a knight from outside their realms gates. The evil that preys on their kingdom threatens them from outside and within, and it’ll be up to Marty to face both physical and mental warfare and win.
Who does your protagonist become as a result? the knight known as Marty
What’s normal and what isn’t? In Martha’s world, it's the modern day and her reality mirrors the reality of the readers. In the Cursed Kingdom, fantastical elements like magic, and dragons, blessings and curses are widely accepted as real.
What is life like right now (pre-inciting incident)? Martha has a palliative care nurse (Dorthea, Dot for short) who is running ragged in an attempt to keep Martha from harming herself with her exuberance and larger-than-life attempts to find meaning and become meaningful.
Who/what is the villain/antagonistic force (the sooner the stakes are raised, the better)? NO SPOILERS, sorry, but I DO have a plan!
The Catalyst; What shatters the Premise? What causes the hero to step up or run away? After being scolded again by Dot for believing in such rubbish as “worlds in wardrobes”, and “acceptance letters to the magical school of Frogworts”, Marty is sulking in her home, alone with her only ever visitor (the nurse) and crying at her prospects. Then she sees a faint glow, looks up and finds an extra door on the wall in the hallway. She sniffles and asks Dotty “when did we get a new door?” Dotty scoffs and says there are only as many doors as there’s always been, Marty, don’t tell me you're getting senile too? At which, Marty immediately springs up, grabs her things and darts through the door (just in Time for Dot to look up, freak out, and chase after her)
The Training/Traveling Sequence/Montage; it a physical or mental journey (or both)? (after the catalyst how do they see the new world? (Like a kid transferring to a new school) Dotty and Marty come out the other side of the door into a graveyard. As grim as such a place ought to be, it is vibrant sunshine and rainbows. Even the new clothes they are wearing are bright and colorful and ridiculously impractical.
And here is where they meet Digby the Grave Digger, their “Jiminy Cricket”/”Phil from Hercules” guide, who sees right past Dots skepticism and to Marty and what her arrival means for their Kingdom. He escorts them to the castle, introduces Marty to her entourage and gets her prepared for her heroic trials.
The Failure; what does the ULTIMATE FAILURE look like? How / when does your hero see it? (look at your theme!) When Martha fails in one of her hurdles, she loses her spark and collapses into the world view that Dot and the rest of modern society had tried so hard to force on her. She loses faith in herself, her own beliefs and she goes off on her own to be forgotten, convinced that she has no part in society anymore and that they don’t need her, and ultimately that she is holding them back.
How do you show your audience the undesirable outcome? Just as Marty is embracing the social constructs of our day and age, Dot is finally seeing the world without agism, embracing the kingdoms unobjectionable perspective to Martha’s potential and in her moment of elation, we see her heart breaking for Martha as she succumbs to the narrative Dorthea had been force feeding her all along.
The comeback; After your hero sees the worst, what/who makes them stand up again for their beliefs? Dorthea find Marty and rally behind her, proclaiming how much she believes in her and how much they all need her, and ultimately it is seeing the change in Dotty that convinces Marty that maybe she wasn’t wrong after all, and maybe she wasn’t crazy to think she had the potential to make a difference.
The Climax; Final theme hits home - your hero knows what must be done (your readers need to know by this point before it is realized) Dot succeeds in turning Marty’s spirit around and bringing her back from her self-imposed-exile. When they reenter the village it is eerily empty, a ghost town, with a proclamation is nailed to a post. It says; “the king is dead, long live the queen. Kings funeral and queens coronation to take place at the palace two days post hence.”
Marty and Dot both know the king to be alive; that Marty had saved him from the Dragon, and that this notice is misleading, so they decide to don disguises and sneak back into the palace with the masses attending the funeral/coronation and confront the princess on the meaning of this. They end up having to break the king and their heroic battles entourage out of the dungeon and fight their way back to the palace to have their final confrontation with the true villain and expose her and her deeds to the whole kingdom.
The Denouement; How has the world changed, and what becomes of the hero(s)? The kingdom celebrates Marty fulfilling the prophecy as their savior. The bratty princess is disciplined for the first time in her life, and Marty chooses to stay behind and become the princesses governess and teach her how to grow up well mannered, how to have honor and a positive embodiment of pride, etc. Digby escorts Dot back to the magic door, to return to her own life in her own world. Dot is having a hard time saying goodbye to Marty and all her new friends. Once back in Marty’s tiny home she feels alone and empty, and just before she leaves, she hears Digby’s voice, telling her not to worry - that her own adventure isn’t over yet.
I skipped past all her trials and hurdles, what skills Martha brings to the table from her lifetime of experiences, the ups downs and magical world discoveries that I hope you'll check out once I have the pages live online.
Venerable is now on webtoons: webtoons.com/en/challenge/venerable/list?title_no=325500