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View Full Version : Young Adult Norse Mythology Story: Robin Brynjar and The Hero of Asgard



Hitotsmami
February 22nd, 2014, 03:51 PM
Hey there everyone! For the last few months I've been working on a young adult series centered around Norse Mythology. I have been working on the first draft for a long while now. I've had a few friends read over it and give their critiques and edits, but I still do not feel it is as good as it can be, so now I'll post the first chapter here to hopefully get some good feedback.

Of course, I don't want to take without giving, so if you have a story you want read, I'd be happy to give it a go! And don't feel as if you have to read it all, though I do hope my writing makes you want to! Thanks!





CHAPTER ONE


In a long forgotten place where thick snow blankets the ground, where life is seldom seen, there stands an uncountable number of megalithic stones standing upright, stippling the white landscape. They are called bautasten by the ancients and today are known as standing stones. Though from an outside observer they may appear to be placed haphazard and random, as if god reached down, grabbed a handful of the Earth, and dropped it from the heavens, but that is not so, for they represent the strongest expression man can ever fathom, because buried beneath these standing stones are heroes.

What does it mean to be a hero? Surely, in those brave warriors last seconds of life, they must have realized it, for it is said that they all died with a smile on their face and a sword tightly clenched in their hands.

However, this story begins not of that time or of that place, but of a very modern and very recognizable world. Even in this new world, however, heroes can spring up at any time and be rushed down the river of fate to the destiny waiting for them.

So begins the story of a sixteen year old girl by the name of Robin Brynjar.


Oh great. This is just what I needed today of all days.

As I struggled to get to my feet on the slippery, snowy pavement, I turned to see a four foot tall and just as equally wide thing swinging a huge, sharp, double-sided broad axe straight at me. I mean, was it really already my time? Was I being called to go to the big happy place in the sky? What could I have done to be condemned to such a terrible fate? Oh yeah, I just wanted to go to Prom!

It all started earlier that morning in history class while I was trying to devise a plan to sneak out of my home. That probably wasn’t the best place to be daydreaming.

“Miss Binjur!”

I jolted up and looked around the classroom. Everyone was staring at me, some with raised eyebrows, others with blank expressions, and some whispering to their friends. I looked to the front of the class where my teacher, Mrs. Ringslather, sat behind a desk. Her arms were crossed and her index finger tapped in rhythm with the ticking of the clock. Her beady eyes were squinting at me through thick lensed glasses, and a sticky frown sat crooked on her face. Her white stringy hair was put up in a sloppy bun. Her face was wrinkled and pale and I think one of her eyes were fake. She wore a plaid button shirt that was tucked into her old jeans. She didn’t smell that great either. I didn’t consider Mrs. Ringslather the best teacher in the world. She always seems to pick on me more than any of the other kids in class.

I blinked and looked around the class, hoping to get some help from someone. Who was I kidding? No one here was going to help me. Most of these kids didn’t even know my first name, or pronounce my last name for that matter. I couldn’t be friends with them anyway, not with my kind of parents, though I think they did have fun watching me squirm under Mrs. Ringslather’s stink eye. However, there was one girl in class who was watching my back.

That is, literally watching my back, since she was sitting in the seat behind me. Her name was Leila Pillai, and she was my best friend. She was the one girl in the entire school who actually understood me. Or, at least, we mutually agreed neither of us were really understood by others. She was a sweet girl, and was really friendly, but she always had trouble talking to others. Nonetheless, we looked out for each other whenever we could, and right then I could have used some looking out for.

“Could you repeat the question?” I asked very cautiously as I brushed my blonde hair out of eyes.

Mrs. Ringslather’s face seemed to twist into a distorted frown. “I was asking if you were present, Miss Bunjiry.”

“It’s Brynjar,” I pointed out, lifting a finger. “And uhm… I am here! Present!” I gave a half smile, looking around the rest of the class. Some of the kids shook their heads at me, and others chuckled. But Mrs. Ringslather wasn’t done with me yet.

“Glad you’re at least self-aware,” she muttered in her grisly voice. “Now maybe you can read out the essay you were supposed to write for homework on ancient European societies.”

My face went blank, and I did what every kid does in that situation: Start absentmindedly looking through my notebooks for something that isn’t there. “Uhm, I’m sure I have it somewhere here,” I muttered, flipping through papers and tossing over notebooks. “It was—!” I was cut off by Leila.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Ringslather!” she called out, raising her hand. “Could, uhm, I be excused to the restroom?”

Now that wasn’t something you would hear every day. Well, students trying to get out of class, you would hear that all the time. But from Leila? Never. She wasn’t the girl who would ask for anything she didn’t absolutely need. Hearing her speak in class at all was a surprise, and I could tell others were bewildered by the looks on their faces. Even Mrs. Ringslather seemed somewhat dazed.

“Of course,” she said, shooing her hand. “Grab a pass on the way out.”

Leila stood up from her desk behind me and walked past me. She gave me a smile, and I gave her one back. Yet again, Leila got me out of trouble. I mentally gave her a high five as she walked to the front desk and grabbed a pass, and then walked towards the classroom door. As she walked in front of the class, I could tell she was nervous. Even the smallest amount of public appearance seemed to affect her. She didn’t look exactly like a regular girl either.

Leila was of Indian descent. She had jet black hair that reached her lower back, with bangs that just barely covered her eyes. Her skin was pasty and white, almost pale with just a hint of pink. She was thin, but not sickly. She lacked the form and figure most regular girls would have. She wore a black and white striped t-shirt with a necklace of a Celtic cross, and tight black jeans and Converse shoes. I could see through her outside appearance though. Behind the black and white exterior was a great friend.

I caught her smile in my direction before softly closing the classroom door behind her. That somehow snapped the class back into reality, and everyone went about shuffling their papers, sharpening pencils, and muttering to friends nearby. Mrs. Ringslather quickly tapped the end of a pencil on her desk rapidly, gaining everyone’s attention.

“Where was I again?” she muttered, looking through a stack of papers on her desk. “Ah yes, we were just going to start today’s subject. Everyone take out your history books.”

That was another thing: Mrs. Ringslather had a pretty bad case of short term memory. That was just fine to me, and for the next hour, I spent time devising my fantastic plan to go to Prom and paid no attention to class.



“Thanks for the save,” I said, closing my locker and turning towards Leila.

Leila shrugged and gave me a small smile, holding her books up to her chest. “It was nothing,” she said in her petite voice. “You would do the same for me.”

“Of course!” I laughed, putting my hand on her shoulder and guiding her towards the lunchroom. We squeezed our way through the busy hallway crowd until we assimilated into a row of students heading for lunch. It was slow, but it always was. If anything, it gave me time to talk. “Listen, Leila. I have another favor to ask you.”

Leila frowned. “You forgot to do your algebra homework as well?”

“No, that’s not it,” I said quickly. “I’d never forget that.”

Leila was quiet for a few seconds, and then slowly passed me her homework. “You can copy this time, but you really should pay more attention in class.”

“I-I know,” I muttered. Leila was always right. At least, I couldn’t think of any time she was wrong. “But anyway, that isn’t what I wanted to talk about.” I took her homework anyway.

“What is it, then?” she asked.

We entered the large cafeteria which was lined with long tables, with a few circular tables randomly dotted here and there. Swerving between these tables was the lunch line which we slowly followed.

“I want you to help me sneak out of my house tonight,” I said, avoiding direct eye contact. Although nice, she was a fragile soul.

“Oh?” asked Leila.

“You know how my parents are,” I muttered, rolling my eyes. I began naming off the restrictions, counting with my fingers. “No going out on your own. No going to friend’s houses. No sports. No parties. No boyfriends!” I sighed, dropping my arms by my sides. “Especially no boyfriends!”

“Why are they like that?” asked Leila. “You’ve never been to my house, and I can only come to yours by… you know…”

I shook my head. “Please don’t mention the form.”

“Yeah, the form.”

“I’ve known you since, like, kindergarten! My parents should know you well enough by now. You know, I’ve asked them why they don’t let me have a life like a normal girl, and you know what they told me? They said that I would understand when I’m older. Yeah, that totally makes sense. Where was I again?”

“You were talking about sneaking out of your house tonight,” answered Leila. “If you really want to, sure, I’ll help.”

“Well, listen, you don’t—! Wait, what did you just say?” I asked, surprised. “Now is the time where you’re supposed to tell me that is a terrible idea and my parents would kill me if they figured out that I had sneaked out without their permission.”

“I would usually say that,” said Leila with a small smile. “But tonight is different, isn’t it? Tonight is—“

“Prom!” we said in unison. We both laughed. I heard some kids behind us whisper some nasty things but I drowned them out so Leila wouldn’t hear. “I never thought you were the kind of girl who was interested in Prom,” I said. I grabbed my lunch tray and going down the pizza line and Leila joined me.

“Well, yeah,” muttered Leila. “But if you’re going, I want to go there with you.”

I smiled, then the lunch lady plopped a greasy premade pizza slice onto my tray with a flop, which kind of ruined the mood, but I tried to ignore it. “That’s not the only reason, is it?”

Leila tried to hide it, but I could tell. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Is it a boy?” I teased.

“N-no!” she shouted, nearly dropping her tray. We were now off to our table, one of the small round ones located in the corner. It was basically where the losers sat.

“Who is it?” I asked chuckling.

“No one!” she said back, her voice pleading. “I just want to hang out with you. That’s all there is to it.”

“You can tell me,” I said nudging her. “I’m your best friend after all!”

“Birch!”

The name froze me where I stod, causing two other girls behind me to bump into me and almost spill their trays. They yelled at me and went around me, but I couldn’t move. Leila stopped a few steps in front of me and turned around, raising an eyebrow.

“Did you say Birch?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said Leila. She then turned and pointed towards our regular table. Sitting there was a boy. “Birch made it first today. We should go say hi.”

“Oh,” I said blankly. “O-oh, right! Of course! Let’s go!” As we approached the table, Birch came into better view. He was our age, sixteen years old. He had short brown hair and dark hazel eyes. His skin was fair except for a stray freckle. He was tall, much taller than either of us. I would guess at least over six feet. He wasn’t muscly, but he was fit and he did participate in track, so he had to stay in shape for that. He looked up as we approached the table, but he maintained a frown.

He wasn’t bitter or angry at anything or anyone. That is just how he was. Calm and cool. He could be fun too. I know this first hand because after Leila he was my second best friend. But don’t get me wrong. I don’t like him. Not that way. Nope, not at all.

“What’s up?” he asked as we sat around the table. “You guys look like you’re planning something.” He could always tell what I was thinking.
Leila gave me a weird look, but I shook my head. “I haven’t told Birch yet either,” I said. Birch looked confused, so I reached in my bag and pulled out a couple of sheets of paper. I spread it across the table, connecting each sheet of paper in chronological order. When I was done, I grabbed my slice of pizza and took a rewarding bite. “Check this out, you guys.”

Birch and Leila leaned over the table, examining my work. It was a strategic and perfect plan on how to get me to tonight’s Prom. Sure, it was only a few steps long, but I made sure to get in all the details and even provided handy stick figure drawings.

“Did you do this during History?” asked Leila in an exasperated voice. “That is why you’re going to fail the exam, you know.”

“Let’s worry about that after Prom,” I said, waving the thought away.

“Prom?” asked Birch, still plenty confused. “Sorry, but your stick figures and sloppy hand writing isn’t helping me here.”

I sighed, pulling Birch closer to the table and pointing at the first sheet of paper, clearly marked with a giant ‘1’ taking up half the sheet of paper. “Listen up, because this is top secret and I’m only saying it once. You and Leila are going to help me get to the Prom tonight, whether you like it or not.” As I went through the steps, my finger slid from one sheet of paper to another, taking a pause for a bite of squishy pizza every other step. “Leila will handle distracting my parents and you’ll show up behind the house with your bike. I’ll jump on and we’ll go around the corner and hide until Leila finishes. We’ll pick her up and then we’ll be off! After Prom we do the same thing, except reverse. Birch, you’ll ring the doorbell and do some small talk while Leila takes me to the back door. I sneak up to my room and it’s as if I was never gone!”

“That’s a terrible idea,” said Birch, leaning back in his seat. I shot him a nasty look. “But if that’s what you want me to do, fine. I still don’t know why your parents are so hung up about it. The least they could do is let you go to Prom. But hey, it’s not me who’s getting in trouble.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I said back.

“It means you’re going to be on your own if they catch you,” he said.

“You know, that’s not how friends should act! You are my friend, right?”

“That’s not what I meant!”

“Then what do you mean?”

“I—uhm—you know—“

All the while, Leila was looking from Birch to me with a worried look. She was about to reach out and break it up when someone from across the lunchroom shouted. I didn’t hear what he said at first, but he caught my attention so I let Birch off the hook and turned around to see what he was yelling about.

Already, I could see a group of people gathering around the huge cafeteria windows. Another kid yelled the same thing, but again I didn’t quite hear. Birch was standing up now and was walking towards the windows quickly, as if something urgent was going on. Leila stood up, her eyes wide, and she pointed in that direction.

It took me a moment to get it, but while I walked towards the crowded windows with Leila I finally understood. Before I thought it was just really misty outside, but now I could see it for what it really was.

Snow.

It was snowing! The sky was a grey-white color as soft, puffy snowflakes swiveled through the air before landing in accumulating clumps across the grassy field outside. I could hardly believe my eyes! It was actually snowing!

For most people, this might not be a big deal. I mean, it snows every winter, right? However, there were two huge reasons why this was majorly a big deal. One, it was the middle of May. Two, I lived in Houston, Texas, and it never snows in Houston, Texas.

Pluralized
February 22nd, 2014, 06:51 PM
Hey there Hitotsmami -

Nice work! I am far from your ideal audience here, being a giant hairy man, but I can appreciate the quality of this youthful voice. Take my opinions at face value, in other words.

I wanted more of the mythology leading in, and didn't quite make the connection back to it as this piece rolled on. Maybe that's for later chapters?

One thing, if you want to make the writing tighter and make it flow better, is to figure out how to cut unnecessary words out. There are lots of opportunities to do that here, especially early on. Just taking the intro for example:


In a long forgotten place where thick snow blankets the ground, where life is seldom seen, there stands an uncountable number of megalithic stones standing upright, stippling the white landscape.Uncountable megalithic stones stippled the landscape. (You've already said it's white, telling us about the snow.) Also, I think 'life is seldom seen' might need another look. If you're trying to convey a harsh, polar-type place, it might serve you best to sprinkle in an observation or two regarding the lack of footprints in the snow, or some way to get that across without such a blatant "tell."


They are called bautasten by the ancients and today are known as standing stones. Though from an outside observer they may appear to be placed haphazard and random, as if god reached down, grabbed a handful of the Earth, and dropped it from the heavens, but that is not so, for they represent the strongest expression man can ever fathom, because buried beneath these standing stones are heroes. Might be worth italicizing or capitalizing "Bautasten" to call it out more prominently. I think God is usually capitalized, and the handful of earth didn't quite get the image. I'm seeing scattered soil, not big stones like you want. Might be worth another pause there.

Here again, I see opportunities to make the prose flow cleaner: "Though from an outside observer they may appear to be..." can be implied with a single word: "Apparently placed haphazard and random, ..." and then a bit later on, "but that is not so"... try to cut down this kind of verbiage. It will make your writing more palatable, and get the reader through to the important bits of each sentence. Even the next bit, "for they represent the strongest expression man can ever fathom" could be cut and a single word or maybe two inserted to give us the importance of these standing stones. If I'm being brutally honest, the stones' prominence got lost in the shuffle, because I'm studying other rabbit-trails about the handful of earth and getting lost a bit in the words.

Hope all that makes sense.


which was lined with long tables, with a few circular tables randomly dotted here and there. Swerving between these tables was the lunch line which we slowly followed.Just another example I wanted to point out of where you could tighten - "the lunch line swerved through the tables, mostly rectangular but dotted with circles here and there" (I'm curious if the tables add anything of value to the scene, btw, but I get that YA does some things differently. Still, I think tightening is in order)

Just one last thing for now -
Although nice, she was a fragile soul.This is quite a blatant tell. I think that it's better to allow the dialogue to give us an impression of your character without telling us she's nice and fragile. We'll get that she's nice without it, because you're painting the portrait. Once you've given up that piece of information that she's a "fragile soul" I'm less interested in her as a character. Be careful you don't diffuse interest through too much of this kind of stuff.

Kind of a rambling commentary here, and I apologize for that. I think you're a good writer and you have the potential to do really well with this story - just probably need to take a closer look at the mechanics of it all. And probably give just a wee bit less description all at once, like with the teacher.

Hope something here is useful. Thanks also for popping by and commenting on mine in the workshop. Cheers!

Riptide
February 22nd, 2014, 09:01 PM
I liked it, and I completely understand about the snow being in Las Vegas, Nevada. but of a very modern and very recognizable world. Even in this new world, however, heroes can spring up at any time and be rushed down the river of fate to the destiny waiting for them. - You use very here, and my teacher said there is always a better word, like altering the word attached to the very. You can even drop them. But in a modern and recognizable world.

You jump twice in the beginning. You explain the snowy distant past then the nearing future of the MC and then to the present. How I would see it playing out is that the beginning you have being a prologue or the back reading, so you only jump once in the beginning. The second jump did make me want to read up to that part because it sounded pretty good, though.

Hitotsmami
February 23rd, 2014, 06:27 PM
I cannot express how much I appreciate you guys critique and review! It really means a lot to me, so I took it to heart and over the last day I've worked on the first chapter, trying to eliminate as many unneeded words as I possibly could. In fact I've taken out over 200 words! I also did a bit of rearranging and I tried to do more showing than telling. Hopefully you will be able to see the difference in the work! Here is the revised version after taking in the helpful critiques:



CHAPTER ONE


In a long forgotten place, where thick undisturbed snow blankets the ground, there stands an uncountable number of megalithic stones standing upright, stippling the landscape. They are called bautasten by the ancients and today are known as standing stones. From above they make look as if they were placed haphazard and random, as if god had reached down, grabbed a handful of stone, and dropped it from the heavens. However, that is far from the truth, for buried beneath these standing stones are where heroes have fallen in the rage of battle.

What does it mean to be a hero? Surely, in those brave warriors last seconds of life, they must have realized it, for it is said that they all died with a grin on their face and a sword clenched in their hands.

However, this story begins not of that time or of that place, but of a modern and recognizable world. Even in this new world, however, heroes can spring up at any time and be rushed down the river of fate to the destiny waiting for them.

So begins the story of a sixteen year old girl by the name of Robin Brynjar.



Oh great. This is just what I needed today of all days.

As I struggled to get to my feet on the slippery, snowy pavement, I turned to see a four foot tall and just as equally wide thing swinging a huge, sharp, double-sided broad axe straight at me. I mean, was it really already my time? Was I being called to go to the big happy place in the sky? What could I have done to be condemned to such a terrible fate? Oh yeah, I just wanted to go to Prom!

It all started earlier that morning in history class while I was trying to devise a plan to sneak out of my home. That probably wasn’t the best place to be daydreaming.

“Miss Binjur!”

I jolted up and looked around the classroom. Everyone was staring at me as if I had just done something outrageous. Looking to the front of the class I saw my teacher, Mrs. Ringslather, sitting behind her desk. Her skinny arms were crossed and her index finger tapped in rhythm with the ticking of the clock.

I blinked and looked around the class, hoping to get some help from someone. Who was I kidding? No one here was going to help me. Most of these kids didn’t even know my first name, or pronounce my last name for that matter. I couldn’t be friends with them anyway, not with my kind of parents, though I think they did have fun watching me squirm under Mrs. Ringslather’s stink eye.

“Could you repeat the question?” I asked cautiously as I brushed my blonde hair out of my eyes.

Mrs. Ringslather’s face seemed to twist into a distorted frown and her black beady eyes centered on mine. “I was asking if you were present, Miss Bunjiry.”
“It’s Brynjar,” I pointed out, lifting a finger. “And, um, I am here! Present!” I gave a half smile, looking around the rest of the class. Some of the kids shook their heads at me, and others chuckled. Mrs. Ringslather , however, wasn’t done with me yet.

“Glad you’re at least self-aware,” she muttered in her grisly voice. “Now maybe you can read out the essay you were supposed to write for homework on ancient European societies.”

My face went blank, and I did what every kid does in that situation: Start absentmindedly looking through my notebooks for something that isn’t there. “Uhm, I’m sure I have it somewhere here,” I muttered, flipping through papers and tossing over notebooks. Before I could say anything else though, I heard the girl sitting behind me speak out.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Ringslather!” she called out, raising her hand. “Could, uhm, I be excused to the restroom?”

Everyone looked surprised at the girl’s question, and turning around to look at her, I did too. She wasn’t the kind of girl who would ask for anything she didn’t absolutely need. Even Mrs. Ringslather seemed somewhat dazed.

Her name was Leila Pillai, and she was my best friend. She was the one girl in the entire school who actually understood me. Or, at least, we mutually agreed neither of us were really understood by others. We looked out for each other whenever we could, and right then I could have used some looking out for.
“Of course,” she said, coming back to reality. “Grab a pass on the way out.”

Leila stood from her desk and walked past me. She gave me a smile, and I gave her one back. Yet again, Leila got me out of trouble. I mentally gave her a high five as she walked to the front desk and grabbed a pass. As she walked in front of the class, I could tell she was nervous. Even the smallest amount of public appearance seemed to affect her. She didn’t look exactly like a regular girl either.

Leila was of Indian descent. She had jet black hair that reached her lower back and sharp bangs. Her skin was pasty with just a hint of pink. She lacked the full form and figure most regular girls would have. She wore dark clothes that only the ‘out-crowd’ would don and around her neck sat a Celtic cross. Unlike all the others, I could see through her outside appearance. Behind the black and white exterior was a great friend.

I caught her smile in my direction before softly closing the classroom door behind her. That snapped the class back into reality, and everyone went about shuffling their papers, sharpening pencils, and muttering to friends nearby. Mrs. Ringslather quickly tapped the end of a pencil on her desk, gaining everyone’s attention.

“Where was I again?” she muttered, looking through a stack of papers on her desk. “Ah yes, we were just going to start today’s subject. Everyone take out your history books.”

That was another thing: Mrs. Ringslather had a pretty bad case of short term memory. That was just fine to me, and for the next hour, I spent time devising my fantastic plan to go to Prom and paid no attention to class.


“Thanks for the save,” I said, closing my locker and turning towards Leila.

Leila shrugged and gave me a small smile, holding her books up to her chest. “It was nothing,” she said in her petite voice. “You would do the same for me.”
“Of course!” I laughed, putting my hand on her shoulder and guiding her towards the lunchroom. We squeezed our way through the busy hallway crowd until we assimilated into a row of students heading for lunch. It was slow, but it always was. If anything, it gave me time to talk. “Listen, Leila. I have another favor to ask you.”

Leila frowned. “You forgot to do your algebra homework as well?”

“No, that’s not it,” I said quickly. “I’d never forget that.”

Leila was quiet for a few seconds, and then slowly passed me her homework. “You can copy this time, but you really should pay more attention in class.”
“I-I know,” I muttered. Leila was always right. At least, I couldn’t think of any time she was wrong. “But anyway, that isn’t what I wanted to talk about.” I took her homework anyway.

“What is it, then?” she asked.

We entered the large cafeteria. Tables of all shapes and sizes lined the wide open space. Swerving between these tables was the lunch line which we slowly followed.

“I want you to help me sneak out of my house tonight,” I said, avoiding direct eye contact.

“Oh?” asked Leila.

“You know how my parents are,” I muttered, rolling my eyes. I began naming off the restrictions, counting with my fingers. “No going out on your own. No going to friend’s houses. No sports. No parties. No boyfriends!” I sighed, dropping my arms by my sides. “Especially no boyfriends!”

“Why are they like that?” asked Leila. “You’ve never been to my house, and I can only come to yours by… you know…”

I shook my head. “Please don’t mention the form.”

“Yeah, the form.”

“I’ve known you since, like, kindergarten! My parents should know you well enough by now. You know, I’ve asked them why they don’t let me have a life like a normal girl, and you know what they told me? They said that I would understand when I’m older. Yeah, that totally makes sense. Where was I again?”

“You were talking about sneaking out of your house tonight,” answered Leila. “If you really want to, sure, I’ll help.”

“Well, listen, you don’t—! Wait, what did you just say?” I asked, surprised. “Now is the time where you’re supposed to tell me that is a terrible idea and my parents would kill me if they figured out that I had sneaked out without their permission.”

“I would usually say that,” said Leila with a small smile. “But tonight is different, isn’t it? Tonight is—"

“Prom!” we said in unison. We both laughed. I heard some kids behind us whisper some nasty things but I drowned them out so Leila wouldn’t hear. “I never thought you were the kind of girl who was interested in Prom,” I said. I grabbed my lunch tray and going down the pizza line, Leila joined me.

“Well, yeah,” said Leila softly. “But if you’re going, I want to go there with you.”

I smiled, then the lunch lady plopped a greasy premade pizza slice onto my tray with a flop. “That’s not the only reason, is it?”

Leila tried to hide it, but I could tell. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Is it a boy?” I teased.

“N-no!” she shouted, nearly dropping her tray. We were now off to our table, one of the small round ones located in the corner. It was basically where the losers sat.

“Who is it?” I asked chuckling.

“No one!” she said back, her voice pleading. “I just want to hang out with you. That’s all there is to it.”

“You can tell me,” I said nudging her. “I’m your best friend after all!”

“Birch!”

The name froze me where I stood, causing two other girls to bump into me from behind and almost spill their trays. They yelled at me and went around, but I couldn’t move. Leila stopped and turned around, raising an eyebrow.

“Did you say Birch?” I asked in a monotone voice.

“Yeah,” said Leila. She then turned and pointed towards our regular table. Sitting there was a boy. “Birch made it first today. We should go say hi.”

“Oh,” I said blankly. “O-oh, right! Of course! Let’s go!” As we approached the table, Birch came into better view. He was our age, sixteen years old. If anyone, he didn’t appear like he belonged at the loser table. He was tall and fit, had beautiful short brown hair and a strong demeanor. He looked up as we approached the table.

He didn’t greet us or smile, but it wasn’t because he was bitter or angry. That is just how he was. Calm and cool. He could be fun too. I know this first hand because after Leila he was my second best friend. But don’t get me wrong. I don’t like him. Not that way. Nope, not at all.

“What’s up?” he asked as we sat around the table. “You guys look like you’re planning something.”

Leila gave me a weird look and I shook my head. “No, Birch doesn’t know about the plan,” I said. Birch looked confused, so I reached in my bag and pulled out a couple of sheets of notebook paper. I spread them across the table, connecting each sheet of paper in chronological order. When I was done, I grabbed my slice of pizza and took a rewarding bite. “Check this out, you guys.”

Birch and Leila leaned over the table, examining my work. It was a strategic and perfect plan on how to get me to tonight’s Prom. Sure, it was only a few steps long, but I made sure to get in all the details and even provided handy stick figure drawings.

“Did you do this during History?” asked Leila in an exasperated voice. “That is why you’re going to fail the exam, you know.”

“Let’s worry about that after Prom,” I said, waving the thought away.

“Prom?” asked Birch, still plenty confused. “Sorry, but your stick figures and sloppy hand writing isn’t helping me here.”

I sighed, pulling Birch closer to the table and pointing at the first sheet of paper, clearly marked with a giant ‘1’ taking up half the sheet of paper. “Listen up, because this is top secret and I’m only saying it once. You and Leila are going to help me get to the Prom tonight, whether you like it or not.” As I went through the steps, my finger slid from one sheet of paper to another, taking a pause for a bite of squishy pizza every other step. “Leila will handle distracting my parents and you’ll show up behind the house with your bike. I’ll jump on and we’ll go around the corner and hide until Leila finishes. We’ll pick her up and then we’ll be off! After Prom we do the same thing, except reverse. Birch, you’ll ring the doorbell and do some small talk while Leila takes me to the back door. I sneak up to my room and it’s as if I was never gone!”

“That’s a terrible idea,” said Birch, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms. I shot him a nasty look. “But if that’s what you want me to do, fine. I still don’t know why your parents are so hung up about it. The least they could do is let you go to Prom. But hey, it’s not me who’s getting in trouble.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I said back.

“It means you’re going to be on your own if they catch you,” he said.

“You know, that’s not how friends should act! You are my friend, right?”

“That’s not what I meant!”

“Then what do you mean?”

“I—uhm—you know!”

All the while, Leila looked from me to Birch and back again. She was just about to reach out and break it up when someone from across the lunchroom shouted. I didn’t hear what was said at first, but they caught my attention so I let Birch off the hook and turned around to see what they were yelling about.
Already, I could see a group of people gathering around the huge cafeteria windows overlooking the front school lawn. Another kid yelled the same thing, but again I didn’t quite hear. Birch stood up and quickly walked to the windows, as if something urgent was going on. Leila stood up and pointed, looking at me speechless.

It took me a moment to get it, but while I walked towards the crowded windows with Leila I finally understood. Before I thought it was just really misty outside, but now I could see it for what it really was.

Snow.

It was snowing! The sky was a grey-white color as soft, puffy snowflakes swiveled through the air before landing in accumulating clumps across the grassy field outside. I could hardly believe my eyes! It was actually snowing!

For most people, this might not be a big deal. I mean, it snows every winter, right? However, there were two huge reasons why this was majorly a big deal. One, it was the middle of May. Two, I lived in Houston, Texas, and it never snows in Houston, Texas.

---

Again, thank you for reading and I really appreciate all the honest help!

thepancreas11
February 23rd, 2014, 08:56 PM
Is this your first effort? 'Cause if that's the case, holy poop. It's like reading Viking Judy Blume. Your dialogue flows well, feels natural. Robin's words and actions really breathe life into a believable and relatable character. In fact, most of the people we meet have real meat to them. I can visualize each of them, and I already have a solid grasp of their natures. Just the way you describe their appearances really gives them body. Equally, your writing sounds like a whiny teenager, which I mean in the absolutely best way possible. Simple words, simple phrases, simple thoughts, for the most part. Really well done there.

Like I said when you introduced yourself, you're introducing a whole new world for me. A mashup of Mean Girls and Beowulf? That's like doing a mashup of Nine Inch Nails and Taylor Swift, which, believe it or not, I've heard before and sounds eerily wonderful. Kudos on the creativity mami. I'd be very interested to read more of this story (I'd recommend if you're looking to get it published that you should post it in the Prose Writer's Workshop for protection purposes).

To be fair, though, it's not ready to be published, just yet. You did a great job narrowing it down with Pluralized's impeccable advise, but I could see certain phrases that didn't make the cut (as in the cut to get cut), and I think it's probably because you're so proud of them. I'm right there with you. When I write, there's so much important stuff in there, how could I ever take anything out? Well, you're going to have to. If it doesn't advance the plot or the characters, it really doesn't fit. I like the first two paragraphs being an explanation of these stones because it's not something I would expect out of a YA novel, but that whole thing about "this is a story about Robin" doesn't need to be there, actually shouldn't be there. Consider using stars or a page break or making a first page explanation out of that bit. You know how some authors have poems at the beginning of their books? This is like your poem: not quite a part of chapter 1 but hugely important to the story. Other things that don't belong: "haphazard and random" are virtually the same thing, which one do you want? all the buts and howevers because when you have too many of those, you're really contradicting things and often times your contradicting when you really shouldn't be. descriptions like "accumulating" or other gerund descriptors, in my opinion.

Also, you've got to straighten things out. Don't call the stumpy axe-wielder a thing. Describe him. What the hell is it? Also, how does Leila get her out of the homework thing? There are some plot gaps here that need to be plugged up. Have people close to you read it and see if they can describe what's happening back to you. If they can't, then you've got to revisit those sequences. Not to call YA novel readers stupid, but chances are that they will be at a lower reading level than people reading Nabokov, so chances are you're going to want to simplify, simplify, simplify.

Hitotsmami
February 23rd, 2014, 09:35 PM
Thanks so much for the advice, pan.

This is more or less my first major attempt at writing a full length novel. I have the first book in rough draft form done. Part of the reason why I joined this forum is to get that extra help in seeing things that I just couldn't see.

And it's true that every time I revisit this first chapter, there is more that needs to be done, and you guys have really helped me see some of the issues. I'm going to take a bit more time with the next edit of the first chapter and next time I post it on the forum, it'll be in the Prose section. I do want to eventually seek publishing. Is that the appropriate place to put it?

EDIT: Oh, and as for the first part, about the standing stones, yes, the idea was for that section to be on a page of its own. Like you said, pan, not part of chapter 1, but important later on. I'd plan for it to be something to stir interest and to connect the idea that this is a mythology story, not just a story about a girl trying to go to prom.

Again, I really do want to slim up this first book, since it is really long for a first book for young adults, so I'll take your words to heart.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Again, thank you for reading, and I'd be happy to take advice from anyone else who is willing to share!

thepancreas11
February 28th, 2014, 12:23 AM
Prose Writer's Workshop is where you put the publishy stuff.

Juganhuy
March 4th, 2014, 07:08 PM
Get this book out before Rick Riordan puts his out on Norse half bloods. It was announced 2-3 years ago. he is still in research mode though, trying to finish off Percy Jackson.

If you never read any of his books, I would recommend it.

As for the writing itself, I really enjoyed it, and would buy it. I am a fan of history present day mash ups.

erinranning
March 9th, 2014, 12:34 AM
this reminds me of the tone of the percy jackson series. that seemed to work out well for him! It's also very similar in the choice of opening scenes to his first book.

My comment is this: the opening action was lost on me. I think it would be much wiser to get deeper into that fighting action properly before dropping out and into a classroom scene. That's not to say that you give the fight's backstory or conclusion (you'd lose the hook of course). This age group wants fighting and exciting action to open and being in a classroom setting is hard to keep their attention. I'd shorten the classroom scene dramatically and get on to something (anything) else. Keep it moving so they don't lose interest and get them back around to the backstory / conclusion to the fight you promised them.

erinranning
March 9th, 2014, 12:44 AM
also, I agree there are a lot of words that can be cut.

changing the surname of the MC would make sense to me. Brynjar is slightly too complicated a spelling to be memorable to a preteen audience, I think.

Noelle
July 27th, 2017, 11:34 AM
A modern/ Norse mythology mashup sounds interesting, I'd like to see where it goes.

I read the first scene. I was assuming it was set in a Scandinavian country, but mentioning prom I thought America, plus the teacher said her name wrong. I haven't heard of many Scandinavians portrayed in the American high school. Her friend's of Native American ancestry but pale white w/ a Celtic cross? I don't know, I doubt the other kids would generally care if the quiet girl asked to go to the bathroom. The POV character seems to assume the intention of her friend and its result before we find out that the teacher doesn't return her attention to her, and has a bad memory.