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Narrative Guide Samples for Storybook Artists - MAGNOLIA

In Magnolia, we are creating pages from a children's book as transitions between levels and to subtly convey the underlying narrative. Below are some of the storybook descriptions I have shared with our game design and art teams.


Storybook Scene 1 – Intro to Tutorial – “Entering the forest & establishing the story/Forest realm”

Page 1 Text: There once was a brave princess named Maggie. She lived in a kingdom filled with peace, joy, and light.

  • Important Scene Elements: Forest Monkey, pink princess dress, vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting, hot air balloons in the distance, fairies (pink, purple, yellow), full of light

  • Fleshed-out Description: This scene is the introduction to the game. We establish Maggie’s appearance and personality, and we also show that she is the main character. The world needs to look happy and upbeat, with open spaces and lots of sunlight. She can essentially just be having a tea party outside, but all of the foliage is well-trimmed and small/short, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining brightly with a lot of visible blue sky, and Forest Monkey and the fairies are peacefully coexisting with each other in the forest tea party setting. Maggie is wearing a pink princess dress (see photos of real Magnolia) and a sparkling tiara in her curly blond hair, which is up in a slightly sideways ponytail. The tea set is white with pink hearts (same as the trim of the wallpaper and bed in her bedroom).

  • Composition/Perspective: Maggie, three fairies, and Forest Monkey are seated in a circle on the ground in the open, sunny forest. Maggie faces the reader, clearly leading the party with her cup (and her pinky) raised. Forest Monkey sits to her right, while the three fairies (one pink, one purple, and one yellow) are half Maggie’s size and sit around the rest of the circle, all looking at Maggie. Some of the fairies will have their backs to the reader. The fairies’ wings are slightly larger than their bodies and opaque. This type of forest isn’t filled with evergreens – it’s more comprised of thick, lush bushes and fields of flowers.

Page 2 Text: One day, darkness fell over her kingdom, and a great forest grew over every path.

  • Important Scene Elements: transition to darkness, cartoonish fear, distress, separation, winding & thorny vines, thick forest (big oak/walnut/maple trees with thick trunks and gnarled branches and roots), friends cut off by forest, signs of a thunderstorm

  • Fleshed-out Description: This is the introduction of conflict and the moment when Maggie is separated from her friends. The scene needs to clearly show Maggie being cut off from her friends, forcing her to at least start the journey alone – this is a nod to the fact that we’re all born alone, and it also foreshadows the fact that Maggie eventually has to move on by herself. The fairies might change color based on the new scary environment/happenings – red, orange, dark purple.

  • Composition/Perspective: As the forest starts to grow out of control, it cuts off Forest Monkey and the fairies, so the scene should show them getting caught in vines and roots and getting pulled away from Maggie, who is in the center, looking to her left but reaching out to her left and her right as Forest Monkey is pulled away on the left of the page and the fairies are pulled away on the right of the page. Her tiara tilts askew on her head, she tears her dress, and the wind and growing forest completely upset her tea party, breaking some of the dishware. Forest Monkey has two sizeable tree branches wrapped around him, and a few different vines are wrapped around a leg of one fairy, an arm of another fairy, and a wing of another fairy, pulling the three of them off into slightly different directions (still all to the right of the page). They should look more distressed than frightened; there should be no real fear generated here. You can only see Maggie from the waist and up.

Page 3 Text: Thankfully, Princess Maggie was smart. She knew she would find the flower that would bring light back to the kingdom.

  • Important Scene Elements: single light in the distance, magnolia tree, hope, strength in the darkness, beginning

  • Fleshed-out Description: This scene shows that Maggie is resilient and determined to reach the magnolia tree/flower in the distance. The dark, thick forest stands between Maggie and the flower. The flower in the distance should be large but it should show that it hasn’t bloomed yet; it’s a closed flower for now. Light shines on both Maggie and the flower, but things are darker everywhere else. A path leads into the forest, but eventually it’s too dark to see exactly where it goes. The reader can see some hints of Forest Monkey and the fairies in the forest, but they can’t see them very clearly.

  • Composition/Perspective: Maggie stands triumphantly with her hands on her hips and her body angled towards the right side of the page. The reader can see her entire body. She’s in the foreground of the left side of the page, bathed in light, and looking towards the magnolia tree in the distance, which is in the upper right background of the page. Even though her dress was torn, she has repaired it so that she won’t trip over the long skirt. She still looks like a princess, but she’s now a princess who’s ready to brave her way through the woods. You can see little glimmers of Forest Monkey and the fairies in the forest – maybe you can see the fairies’ faint lights or some of their wings sticking out, and maybe you can see Forest Monkey’s tail. The dirt path winds from where Maggie is standing into the middle of the page, where the dark, overgrown forest takes over, then it winds out of the forest in the background all the way to the magnolia tree.

Copyright Alexandra Lucas 2015

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