The narrator’s desire line

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In my last post, I shared a revision of the outline for Part 1 of Kingdom of Fief. I realized I needed to make Aliyah’s desire line stronger — what she wants both as an internal motivation and as an immediate, concrete goal.

She wants to be a knight-errant.

Her immediate goal is to go to the Kingdom of Fief theme park so she can participate in a knighting ceremony they do there for visitors.

This past week, I began rewriting Part 1 based on this new desire line and streamlined plotting.

But I realized while writing that it still meanders. The reason for this, I suspect, is that the desire line of Lester, the narrator and Aliyah’s cousin, is also still not strong enough. So this week I’ve been rethinking his motivation.

Here are the notes I made about the problem this morning:

Aliyah — Lester
Royal — commoner
fighter — peacemaker
idealist — pragmatist
rank — equality
honor — disbelief, doubt, distrust, skepticism
sacrifice — gratification
rigid — flexible
risk — caution
magic — science
faith — reason
rules — loopholes
incurious — curious, questioning

I need to figure out Lester’s goal — it needs to be more concrete — and completely at odds with Aliyah’s — time to go back to basics

He lives with his single mom, they’re divorced — the father, where is he? — does Lester like him?— his mom sees his father as irresponsible, a dreamer, a drifter, an excuse-maker — she’s afraid Lester is going to become like his father — she’s terrified, really, — she thinks it’s already happening — he’s smart but lazy — does the bare minimum at school to pass — always getting into trouble — scam-artist — doesn’t see the point of school — always looking for shortcuts, loopholes, the easy way out

honor, courage, belief in magic
belief in a magical world — purpose, order, immanence, providence, goodness

more than meets the eye — where Aliyah sees magic, Lester sees a magic trick, an illusion, a deceit

So his mom resolves to take radical action — to send him to her sister’s to go to a better school — in his mom’s eyes, his aunt’s family is rich, successful — they live in a wealthy neighborhood with high property taxes and good schools — a school that will give him the attention Lester needs — resources to push him to achieve, to realize his academic potential

Lester feels abandoned — first, by his father, now, by his mother

this is all very serious — but I need to find the comic angle to all this — not make it feel all so tragic — this should all come out in the climax — the build up to the battle and the self-revelation, but the signs should be there all along, hinted at in the beginning, in stating the theme

itchiness — not being comfortable in one’s skin — feeling out of place, out of sorts — the intuition that something is wrong with my place in the world, with the world itself

Lester —
weakness/need — to believe in something, to care, to fight for a cause
desire/goal —
opponents —
plan —
battle —
self-revelation —
new equilibrium —

so his mom sends him to his aunt’s house — what does he want? — how does KoF represent the maximal test of Lester’s weakness? — to see injustice

Lester’s worldview has to crystalize around one clear idea — unfairness — that’s not fair — that’s not just, injustice — he’s destined to be a loser — the odds are stacked against him

maybe Lester is excited to go to his aunt’s place — he remembers it as a wonderland of fun — video games, tech, gadgets, fun activities, pizza parties, soda, candy, etc. — all the trappings of wealth, as he sees it — a cushy life — he’s excited to enjoy all that — maybe Aliyah’s parents mean well, but they’re distracted — they throw money at problems

when he gets out of (what he sees as) the limo, he’s expecting an amusement park — initially, Aliyah’s house, her family life doesn’t disappoint — take-out every night, all manner of comforts and desires gratified — rec room, popcorn machine, ping pong table, foosball table, air hockey table, romper room, excess, her parents’ feeble attempts at restraint look like total indulgence to Lester and he loves it — so it’s a complete shock that Aliyah rejects all of this — for this obsession for the “Dark Ages”

Lester wants to be rich — to be king of world — but he doesn’t want to work hard for it — he believes those who are rich are lucky — that the odds, and the rules are stacked against nobodies like him — he doesn’t buy into the New American Dream — work hard, and you can become president — the way to be king of the world is by figuring out the cheat code, and gaming the system

does he miss his mom? sure, a little bit, actually, a lot — but he’s putting on a brave face — his scam on himself is that he’s not hurt, not feeling abandoned, unloved

Lester needs to brazenly declare all this at the outset — in that first debate with Aliyah — they both reject the world as it is — for very different reasons — Lester is a knave, embraces it — but he’s just bad at it — he’s a lovable scoundrel

so his desire when he arrives is to enjoy, thinks this year is going to be a vacation — mom thinks it’s going to be hard for him — that he’s going to be pushed to shape up — he’s defiant — thinks he’s going to be able to crack the code of this new school, the cheat code — every game has a cheat code — find it, exploit it — that’s his motto

this is starting to sound a lot like my Tony character in Confessions — not quite — Lester wants to hide out — or does he? — to live in the shadows

what’s his concrete, specific goal when he arrives?

Confessions of a Hallway Hustler cover

Confessions of a Hallway Hustler

Another Shameless Wimpy Kid Parody
By Jest Ninney

Confessions of a Hallway Hustler is the rollicking tale of Anton Altanero, a foreign transplant with delusions of grandeur, navigating the wilds of a typical American middle school. It's Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Scarface, without the guns but with all the greed and ambition.

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