The King of Average
A Fantasy Novel for Young Readers
In the spirit of “The Phantom Tollbooth”, THE KING OF AVERAGE is a story of adventure, fantasy and friendship set in a landscape of self-doubt, blame, apathy, guilt, superiority, inferiority, success, and failure. Where a state of mind is an actual place..
By Gary Schwartz
What if someone wanted to be the MOST average person in the world?
Is there such a thing? And if so, why would anyone aspire to it?
This is the story of James, an introspective boy from a broken home, who decides that he won’t accept life as a failure, no matter what.
Even though his neurotic, narcissistic mother’s hurtful comments and disdain make her son believe that he’s less than loved and to blame for her feelings, James finds solace in the fact that he is sure he could at least be Average if not quite a success if he really tried.
He decides to become the most average kid in the entire world.
This single idea transports him into a fantastic world of talking goats, obstinate rivers that hate being crossed, kings and cowboys in far off lands and a quest to save the Kingdom of Average and be crowned its new King.
In the end James will help his friends to succeed where he cannot. He will understand and forgive his parents for abusing and abandoning him. And he will discover that if you can be the most average person ever - you can be anything you want in the whole wide world.
James is an introspective boy from a one parent home who has been convinced that he’s a terrible burden to everyone and unworthy of love.
He wants to find a way to exist and be a good son to his negligent mother.
He thinks that he’s not completely bad, but obviously not completely good, either, so he gets the idea to become the most average person in the entire world.
This opens the door to a fantasy world called the Realm of Possibilities where the Kingdom of Average needs a King. A Scapegoat named Mayor Culpa is sent to bring him into this world where he has a chance to get his wish.
Sits behind another student, trying not to get called on, doodles in his notebook. A typical perspective drawing of a horizon, rolling hills, mountains and a single road leading off in the distance.
Theme: The Drama of the Gifted Child
The search for true self, self acceptance and love.
Far too many of us had to learn as children to hide our own feelings, needs, and memories skillfully in order to meet our parents’ expectations and win their ”love.” Alice Miller writes, ”When I used the word ’gifted’ in the title, I had in mind neither children who receive high grades in school nor children talented in a special way.
I simply meant all of us who have survived an abusive childhood thanks to an ability to adapt even to unspeakable cruelty by becoming numb… Without this ’gift’ offered us by nature, we would not have survived.”
But merely surviving is not enough. The Drama of the Gifted Child helps us to reclaim our life by discovering our own crucial needs and our own truth.
Sad, bored, lonely, in school an average student.
Report card all C’s. Takes to mom. We see why he has no self esteem.
Goal of the Chapter
The Great Idea
To be the most average person in the whole world.
Bird notices and flies away.
Meets a helpful talking scapegoat and is off to be King.
Goal of the Chapter
The Realm of Possibilities -
Told about being the new King of Average - in the Commonwealth of Average capitol Median City
Goal of the Chapter
The River Maunder
- over coming procrastination showing how clever James really is.
The Optimist and Pessimist
James meets his two other constant companions Roget the Optimist and Kiljoy the Pessimist.
The Nervous Nellies
A tribe of worry warts who believe the worst about themselves.
The capitol of Average. James is confronted with a test and loses confidence and gives up.
James finds himself back home out of the fantasy - nearly. Roget and Kiljoy stay with him.
Back to Un-reality
Roget and Kiljoy get him to decide to try and back he goes to Average.
The Law of Average
James meets the makers of the laws of Average and learns about the constraints of being Average.
Act 1 b
Finding Allies in this new realm
Here we are introduced to the workings of this fantasy world and meet a cast of characters that help and hinder James’ quest to overcome his problems.
Act II a
The Quest for the throne of Average
Along with Mayor Culpa, his guide, he makes friends with a professional Optimist, Roget and a Pessimist, Kiljoy. They accompany him on his journey.
His quest is to locate the former King (now a failure) and learn from his mistakes to become the most average person there ever was.
He finds the King who James admires as the father he never had, even though King has failed his children and lives in shame.
James decides that he must reunite the King with his children before he can assume the throne of Average.
James and Company are given the task to locate the former King to find out what happened and have him declared a Failure unworthy of Average before he can assume the throne.
On the Middle-of-the-Road
James chooses a direction. Insecurity prevails.
The First Quest - Below Average Adventures
Darkness Before the Dawn
The Myopic Forrest
You can’t see the forest for the trees and lose your way.
The little bird lighted on James’ shoulder,
“Avoid the forest. “ it said.
“What forest?” James asked. “All I see is one tree.”
“It’s the Myopic forest and it will keep your mind focused on one thing and one thing only.”
“That’s what I need.” James replied. “I can’t seem to keep to one subject long enough in school to do any better than getting by with a C.”
So James and company headed for the tree.
The closer they got, more trees appeared. Each one drew James in with a different thought.
One tree spoke to James about getting revenge.
“Come stand under me.” it called. “Everyone’s against you. Get your revenge!”
It was tempting, but James knew better than to believe that.
“Come to me.” another beckoned. “You’re worthless. A good-for-nothing! A waste!”
James didn’t want to hear that. He walked in the other direction.
Then another tree drew him. It was a large, strong oak. It kept whispering something James knew to be true. “Nobody cares about you.” it said. “No one really cares.”
James nodded. The closer he came to this tree, the more focused on this thought he became. By the time he reached it all the other trees had vanished. And so did Mayor Culpa, Roget and Kiljoy.
“Mayor Culpa? Roget?” James called out, but they were gone.
“You see?” said the tree. “You’re all alone. Nobody likes you. Not even your so-called friends. Where are they now?” asked the tree. “Gone.”
That was true. They were no where in sight. James was alone. Terribly alone and he felt like crying.
“Wrrawwk!” cried the bird. “What did I tell you? Now you’re stuck!”
James looked up through his tears to see the bird perched on a low branch.
“I’m all alone.” sobbed James. “Nobody loves me.”
“You’re not alone.” said the bird. “I’m here. If I’m here and you’re here, we’re not alone.”
James had to agree. He wiped his eyes and blinked tears away.
Instantly there were hundreds of trees, the oak was now just one of many.
“What’s happening?” James asked the bird.
“You opened your mind to more than one thought.” said the bird. “An open mind is the only way out of the Myopic forest.”
Out from behind a tree, trotted Mayor Culpa. From behind another, Roget and Kiljoy.
“What happened to you?” asked James. “You left me all alone. It was terrible.”
“Do not ask, mon ami.” said Roget. “I was sinking of somesing and suddenly zere was zis tree in front of me and eet would not let me move. Everywhere I turned zere eet was!”
“Me-eeee-ee too.” said Culpa. “I butted my head against this tree, but never felt any better for it.”
“You too Kiljoy?” James asked.
Kiljoy said nothing but gave everyone the razz-berry, before diving back into Roget’s pocket.”
James was ready to tell everyone about how awful he felt when he believed that his friends didn’t care about him anymore, but thought better of it.
“Let’s go.” he said.
And off they went down the middle-of-the-road once more.
Dawn and back on the road.
Neither Here Nor There
Deepening the bond between Roget, Kiljoy and Jame and Culpa.
More of the same
Stupid tribe who believe whatever their leader, King Nincompoop the Vainglorious, tells them. He lies to impress people. He wants to be liked.
James knows the impulse but is too honest to be liked for what he is not.
Where you crawl in a hole and hide your shame.
King Norman’s Story
King Norman the Unexceptional
This B story usually involves a romance, or a new friendship, or some other relationship with a character from the “new world” of Act II.
It’s an avenue you can use to discuss the theme.
This is where the B Story starts, but it runs throughout the rest of the movie.*
Norman tried to be Average, but hid the fact that his family was not typical or average. One child was exceptionally gifted, One was normal and his wife was horrid.
In trying to maintain the image of Average and being all things to all people (other than his family) he lost the respect and love of his children. Once they ran away and he banished his wife, he sees he is a failure and abdicates the throne.
A Father Figure for James
James quickly becomes fond of the ‘failed king’ and wishes his absent father was like Norman.
His impulse is to mend a family and since he has no family of his own (We see but he doesn’t, that his mother bears a resemblance to the Mad Queen of Average who tormented poor Norman and contributed to his downfall.)
James has a new goal. A selfless act of kindness.
Fix Norman’s Family
He’s on a new quest to locate the King’s children and reunite them.
Act II b
The New Quest
James finds and befriends the King’s children, a boy and a girl his own age and gets into many adventures with them.
He tries to convince them that their father does indeed love them and regrets what he’s done to alienate them. They refuse to believe him.
James decides to find a way to convince them that they are loved unconditionally (although that is exactly his problem too), forgive their father and reunite them as a family. (The family he’s always dreamed of)
After a sojourn in Serenity Spa, the friendship grows between James and his new friends Jerome and Marie, the children of Norman the Unexceptional. There they are told to seek out Epiphany high in the mountains to understand what they must do.
They are followed by the Creeping Doubt who poisons the friendship. A terrible fight between friends ends with James flying into a rage, long repressed.
In this rage, he kills thinks he’s his friend the scapegoat. All his companions abandon him and is all alone. Filled with remorse, depression, and hopelessness. He is more convinced than ever that he is truly unworthy of love. His dreams are over.
As suddenly as he was thrust into this fantasy, he is equally mysteriously deposited back in his room. No one is home, not even his awful mother.
Your cannonball has reached it’s peak. The fun and games are over. There’s no better way to put this, than: “Shit just got serious!” The midpoint is where the stakes are raised.
If people are to die in your story, this is where the first character dies. If it’s a smaller drama, a bombshell is dropped here.
A New Direction
James tells Culpa, Roget and Kiljoy he’s going to postpone being king and is determined to find King Norman’s children and try to restore his family first.
A Little Birdie Told Me
The little birdie becomes the guide and go-between for Jame & company and the former King. He points James towards the lands above Average and give him a starting point for his new journey. Find a gossip and get the low down.
James learns a lesson about flattery and fair-weather friends.
James is taken in by a scheming, shady private detective who absconds with all their money.
James and his companions are seized by Dirt Miners - who dig up dirt to sell to the gossip mongers and brought to King Onus of Accusia to sell him a scapegoat.
King Onus - J’accuse!
Things get progressively worse… Culpa is taken to be Onus’ new scapegoat, Kiljoy is seized and Roget and James are thrown in the dungeon..
They meet another chatty dirt monger who gives them more information. They meet Marie, the daughter of King Norman. She takes them to see her brother, Jerome the Ordinary.
King Onus has inflated Kiljoy into a hulking giant and Kiljoy rejects Roget and remains with the King.
He throws James, Jerome and Roget out of the castle. Marie slips away to find Culpa.
Separated from their friends, James with Roget and Jerome find shelter in the woods and try to think of a way to rescue Marie and Mayor Culpa
Jerome the Ordinary
Jerome tells James his story.
James and Jerome bond and become friends.
Jerome tells of how he ran away and befriended Onus and how he was jailed by Onus.
Marie, Mayor Culpa and Kijoy return. We hear the story of their escape. We learn more about Marie and her father issues.
We hear how Kiljoy escaped.
- James succeeded in finding Jerome and Marie, but they have no interest in going back with their father.
- James can return to Average to be the new King, but he wants to stay with his first real friends.
- Jerome does not know what he should do and Marie suggests they take a break and visit Serenity Spa.
Relaxing in Serenity the friendship between Jerome and James deepens, James has a crush on Marie.
James can’t convince Jerome to give his father another chance and Jerome continues to harbor his grudge toward his father.
Scent of a Scoundrel
- They discover Blatherskite used their money for a vacation at the Spa and he gets his just dessert.
- They find without money they will suffer the same fate.
- the little Birdie drops the Crown of Average on them to save the day.
- It saves their serenity but does not solve the problem of what to do next.
- Osgood, the proprietor of the Spa suggests they seek out Epiphany somewhere on in the Unattainable mountain range on Mt. Impossible.
(Epiphany is a place like Shangrila and Brigadoon - it appears unexpectedly and rarely)
The Road to Eureeka
They have no idea how to begin to look for this mythical Epiphany. Osgood suggest they start in the foothills of the Unattainables in the town of Eureeka where they meet a seller of notions, which could lead to an idea.
The Creeping Doubt
They are stalked by the Creeping Doubt who tries to sabotage their plan. They bicker, and fight and call each other names. It escalates. The friendship is broken and Jerome and Marie leave James with his friends to return to Average and fulfill his stupid dream.
James is now totally enraged and Mayor Culpa tries to make it his fault. But James angrily kicks the scapegoat, in a rage and kills Mayor Culpa.
He now has no one to blame but himself.
If your hero starts moving towards his goal immediately, it’ll seem as though he’s just reacting to what happens around him.
No one wants to see a hero react, they want to see him or her act.
That’s what the debate section is for. This is where the hero shows that he/she knows that it’ll be a long road, but consciously decides to act.
One character does live in this world and that one - the Little Birdie, (the embodiment of intuitive understanding.)
It attacks James in his room and he opens the door to escape and falls into the Torrent of Emotions back in the Realm of Possibility.
He ends up in Epiphany.
His audience with Ah-Ha the epiphanum allows him to question everything that’s happened to him and he realizes that he is actually a nice boy, worthy of love and his own courage and resourcefulness have seen him through this odyssey.
Gone in a flash is his falsely held image of himself, inherited from his mother’s treatment that he is a burden and worse.
His friends return, convincing him further that he is loved. Even Mayor Culpa comes back - not as a Scapegoat, but as a real goat who can’t talk but who can be a pet he can love.
The King’s children have discovered their own truths and forgive their father.
But James is not done yet.
James realizes that average is not a specific thing but relative. It’s just part of a limitless range of possibilities. He now sees that he can choose any goal from this limitless range. He decides to go home with his pet goat and his companions Roget and Kiljoy. He bids farewell to his other new friends, goes on yet another journey. That of searching for his father.
Lost and Alone
James is completely shattered. Roget and Kiljoy leave with the body of Mayor Culpa.
It begins to rain salty tears and James takes refuge in a cave.
As he enters the cave, he finds himself back at home. Alone in his room.
His mother is nowhere to be found.
The idea for the solution is at hand.
One Last Chance
The little Birdie finds its way into James’ room and begins strafing him again. Just as it did in the beginning of the story at the school yard.
James takes cover by opening the door and running out of the room.
The door opens and it’s a sheer drop into the Torrent of Emotions.
He washes up on the banks of the River in Epiphany.
He is taken by two be-robed smiling monks Yee-Ha and Wu-Pee into a (place yet to be imagined the hall of questions, perhaps?) and meets Ah-Ha the head Epiphanum. He has tattooed on the top of his bald head a large exclamation point.
Wrap it up.
The climax must be the result of the entire chain of events leading up to this point. A chain that should be linked by the words “therefore” or “but”… it’s not enough for Y to follow X, Y must happen because of X.
Your climax is the result of
- Who your hero is.
- How your hero has changed.
- The events leading up to this point.
Dispatch all the bad guys (literal or figurative), in ascending order. At the end, a new world is born.
Not only must the hero suceed, but he/she must change the world.
So Many Questions
Ah-Ha has a pet goat. It’s Culpa!! No longer a Scapegoat, but a real live kid.
“You cannot be the Most Average. There is no such thing. Average is relative. In trying you’ve become so much more.”
Ah-Ha brings in a little girl. James’ mother at his age. He sees she’s been mistreated and grew up to embody that neglect. Much is explained.
Next comes King Norman and his children. Jerome and Marie found their way to the Leap of Faith and jumped, much as did James into the Torrent of Emotion. They landed in Epiphany where they realized what James had said was true. It was due to James’ friendship that they found their way.
Roget and Kiljoy are ushered into the tent and James is overjoyed.
The End and Beginning
“What will you do now, master James?” Ah-Ha asked.
“Stay to climb Mt. Impossible?” Jerome asked.
“Live with us?” Marie asked with a hopeful smile.
“I’m going back to Reality.” said James.
“To a rotten mother who thinks you make her life miserable? You’ll be just where you started.”
“No, I won’t.” said James. “I can understand her better now and I won’t feel bad anymore. She won’t even notice, but I know I won’t avoid her. She’ll just have to deal with me I guess.”
“I’m also going to find my dad.” he said. “I have a feeling he’s a lot like you, sir.” looking at Norman. “I think maybe he’s remarried and may have kids like you.” he said to Jerome and Marie.
“‘Ow do you know zat?” asked Roget.
“Yeah! How!?” enjoined Kiljoy.
There was a flutter of wings and the little Birdie lighted on James’ shoulder.
“Do you have to ask?” cried the bird.
Everyone shared a laugh.
“Er, ah-hem, Monsieur James.” Roget stepped up to his young charge. “Do you mind eef we accompany you furzer? We ‘ave grown so attached to you.”
“Speak for yourself!” groused Kiljoy who darted his eyes expectantly from James to the floor. “You’ll probably leave us here and never think about us again. I just know it.”
“Monsieur Roget. I can think of nothing better than having you along.” said James.
He walked to the door of the hall, knowing that on the other side was life as usual, but now he had a new goal and he was a boy in full.
Roget opened the door and bowed, motioning James forward.
Just then Mayor Culpa bleated loudly and ran out ahead of them.
“I wonder how mom will take to my new pet?” James mused.
“Another adventure! ‘Ow marvelous!”
The opening image is your “before” shot, this is the “after”.
The world must have changed, and the difference between the opening image and the closing is the proof of this change.