Draft #5: The girl, the Imp, and the Memory Tree

Decided to change to a young girl. Combined from draft 4 and earlier ones.

“Once upon a memory,” the village elders would always begin, as they started their stories under the old tree.

It was a tradition in the village, for as long as the elders could remember. By day, the villagers worked hard, farming and tilling the land. By night, they would gather under the old tree to listen to stories being told by the elders.

Sometimes there were new stories, and sometimes there were the ones the villagers have heard before. The villagers would smile at how the mouse-deer tricked the crocodile; how the rat outwitted the snake; how the frog escaped from the well. The villagers would laugh if it was a funny story. Sometimes they would cry if the story was a sad one.

One night, an imp chanced upon the villagers and their evening stories. Imps being imps, it had an evil heart. It saw how the villagers were enjoying themselves and it decided to play a trick on them.

Over the next few evenings, the imp secretly visited each of the villager’s homes. The imp gave each of them a magic stone and the villagers would be amazed to see beautiful images and lights from a simple stone, staring at it for hours.

Evening after evening, the imp tempted the villagers away from their nightly stories under the tree.

Through the imp’s magic, the stones showed different things each time they looked at it. The villagers were spellbound by the stones, so much so that they were too tired to do anything else. Some days, they were too tired to even go to the fields.

Night after night, one by one, the villagers stayed away from the gathering under the tree and preferred to just admire the stone.

Finally no one bothered to gather at the old tree. When this happened, the imp danced around the old tree and chanted gleefully, “Fools! Now there is no one left to share their stories”.

The imp thought it was all alone, but near the old tree was a young girl. She overheard the imp and realised it was the imp that used its magic to make all the villagers stay away.

She found her courage and confronted the imp.

“I know what you are trying to do!”

The imp turned around and when it saw that it was only a young child, it laughed.

“So what if you do? You cannot do anything. You are a child, weak and powerless.”

The imp creeped menacingly towards the girl. The little girl knew she could not fight the imp, nor run fast enough. She could only do what she did best — she started to recite the stories that she had heard so many evenings before under the tree.

She started reciting stories of how the mouse-deer tricked the crocodile; how the rat outwitted the snake; how the frog escaped from the well. She told funny stories and some sad ones.

The young girl was frightened of the imp, but she refused to give in to her fear, and drew strength from the tree instead.

As she recited the stories, her voice carried into the night. One by one, the villagers came out of their homes, drawn by the familar sounds. The villagers rubbed their eyes. Something in the words woke them.

The imp’s spell was broken!

When the imp realised what had happened, it turned and ran into the night. It was never seen again in that part of the land.

And so, “Once upon a memory,” the village elders would continue to say, as they shared their stories under the old tree once more. They now called their tree, the Memory Tree, for it was where they remembered…

I got stuck at the end… remembered what? Any ideas?



  1. vantan said,

    July 15, 2006 at 1:54 am

    “… for it was where they remembered their roots.”

    Pun on Memory Tree.

  2. July 15, 2006 at 11:12 am

    […] Refined from draft#5. Have retitled it “The imp, the girl,and the Memory Tree” to match the sequence of the story. Also tidied up a few words, moved up a line or two. “Once upon a memory,” the village elders would always begin, as they started told their stories under the old tree. It was their tradition, for as long as the elders could remember, to tell stories at that tree. […]

  3. vickoo said,

    July 16, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    Remembered not to be so easily tempted by distractions luring them from a worthwhile activity?

  4. Walter said,

    July 16, 2006 at 11:46 pm

    Nice story.

    Just some comments though that may help to give it a little more colour, drama and excitement perhaps?

    1) Good to describe the village and the village elders with a little more detail. For example, using “props” like coconut trees, kampong huts, attap roofs, tree stumps etc. Village elders could be sun-baked and tanned, toothless smiles, wrinkled and gnarled features casting shadows on their faces as they wave their arms and bodies to illustrate their stories.

    2) Characterisation would be another area I would think of. For example, can we give names, personalities and professions to maybe 2 or 3 of the village elders. Ahmad the impatient fisherman, Ah Seng the eccentric vegetable farmer, Muthusamy the kindly craftsman. Certainly, I am interested to know more about the girl, who is the heroine in this story.

    3) Context is another thing. So, if this is an Asian village, the time/era, location and geography would be useful. Perhaps it is by the sea?

    4) Dramatisation of the imminent danger that the villagers face may also make this more edge-of-the-seat exciting. For example, the stones may contain a curse that will make their crops wither, or their harvests fail. Or something bad will befall a member of their family. Or that relationships will fail and people stop talking to each other in the village as they become more and more engrossed with their new toys. Or that they stop working and tilling the land, and end up starving.

    5) I would also ask the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) question for the Imp in wrecking such mischief on the village. If it has an evil intention, then perhaps it could stand to gain something. Or it is just pure mischief?

    6) Finally, I would have tried to paint the Imp out a little more. For example, how does it look like? Does it have an ugly face? Is it powerful like a warlock? Long sharp claws and teeth? Pointy ears? I guess your drawings will help.

    OK, think I said more than I should already! Sorry lah

  5. Ivan Chew said,

    July 17, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for the comments, Walter. I decided to simplify the story to keep it short and focused, and intend to also let the illustrations complement the story to provide that context. Your suggestions are useful pointers nonetheless. Perhaps when I get an offer to write a longer version of the story! 🙂

  6. herry said,

    July 21, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    Interesting story…:)

    … a brave young girl had saved them from an evil’s spell.

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