I’ve been trying to teach my six year old daughter, Jessica, the basics of story-telling. I sat her down and talked her through a very simple 3 act structure. This is the conversation we had (Jessie is in blue type). All the ideas were Jessica’s, and the dialogue is genuine.
Who’s our hero?
Tell me about her.
She holds the world record for saving pets who have fallen into moon craters.
She has a best friend called Rosa who likes Michael Jackson.
What happens to make this day different?
They get a note from Northwind the zombie. It says, ‘Dear pirates, we really want to kill you. Love Northwind.’
Is Northwind our bad guy?
Yes. He’s a vegetarian zombie. He eats cabbages because they look like brains, but are much healthier for you.
He sounds nice for a zombie.
Not really, he has a wasp stuck in his heart.
Right. So what does he want?
He wants to kill them.
Millie and Rosa? Why?
Because he has a wasp stuck in his heart.
Maybe there could be another reason too?
Are you sure? You said they’re pirates.
If I’m the one who’s writing this, then I’m the mind-master of it.
Fair enough. So Northwind attacks them. Does he hurt them?
He chases them around the ship. Millie falls over and hurts her leg.
Can she still escape?
No, she sprained it.
She’s brain dead!
No, she sprained it.
Okay, that’s better. Does he capture them?
Yes. He takes them to his castle where they can’t escape. There’s lava all around it. Lava with sharks swimming in it!
Sounds scary. So what happens next?
Millie and Rosa escape from the dungeon.
How do they do that?
Millie has a cupcake that she was saving for later.
Right. So…what, she bites it into the shape of a key to unlock the door?
Daddy! It would crumble into bits!
Yeah. Sorry. Of course.
They offer it to one of the guards outside. When he takes it, they run really quickly out of the dungeon.
Yeah, okay, that’s better. Then what happens?
Then they escape.
And? We need more things to happen to make it more complicated for them.
They’re looking for a magic emerald.
Okay, magic emerald, I like it. Is it in Northwind’s castle?
No, it’s on Jupiter.
That is complicated.
But Northwind has a spaceship in his castle.
Can I ask a question? If he just wants is to kill them, why hasn’t he done it?
Because he’s tired. He had to chase them around the ship, then carry them back to the castle.
But why did he carry them back? Why didn’t he just…you what, forget it. So do they get into the spaceship?
No, it’s bedtime and Northwind is sleeping beside it.
So they have to wait until the morning?
You can’t go to Jupiter in the morning. Space only comes out at night.
So they’ve got to do it now?
Yeah. Millie has another cupcake that she was…
No more cupcakes, we’ve done that. Something else.
Millie puts on her ballet shoes and tiptoes past Northwind.
She’s carries ballet shoes with her?
No. Millie carries her.
I thought Millie had sprained her ankle.
She’s fine! They get on the spaceship and fly to Jupiter. They get out and search for the emerald. And they find it…it’s as big as a rock.
You can’t really walk on Jupiter, it’s mostly clouds and gas.
They’ve got ballet shoes on.
She’s carrying Rosa.
And the emerald too?
I told you, she’s feeling better!
Okay. So then what happens.
They use the emerald’s magic power to take them home and destroy the castle.
We need one final challenge for them – something huge that make us think that Northwind might win.
Northwind keeps a pet monster on Jupiter.
Does it have ballet shoes too?
It flies! And it tries to eat them, but Millie uses the emerald to turn the monster nice.
Does Northwind die?
Yes. But he was asleep so it’s okay.
And Millie and Roza live happily ever after?
Great story. I like it.
Did you know that when you get older your skin gets more wrinkly. But your colouring in gets better.
Amazing Millie and Northwind the Zombie has just been purchased by Dreamworks for 5.8 million dollars.