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allyson17white
July 8th, 2014, 06:12 AM
This is just the very beginning, but this is a piece I could almost say I'm proud of. I suppose I did write this story more for myself, but I wonder how it came out.

This story, my story, is not an extraordinary one. In fact, it’s quite ordinary. There aren’t any extraordinary circumstances or terribly extraordinary people, though I like to think I am one. No, this story is just ordinary. It has, like any good story, relationships, and trials, errors, and mistakes, things fixed, and things broken, and all of the lovely things that come along with life. It’s a story about beauty and brokenness, redemption, love... So all in all I think it’s pretty good, good enough to write down anyway.

It’s impossible to say where to begin. With me, with her, with him, with the very first person, with the very last, well to make it easy, I will start with the sun, because on that day, the sun was very hot, and everything else was very cold.

I found it quite perplexing, the heat on my face and the cold at my back, like swimming in ice water on a burning summer day. I was waiting for my mom, she’s a bit of a worrier, to finish double checking everything before we left for my first day at a new school. So, like I said it was cold, January, Christmas break had just ended and our new life in Illinois, of all places, had begun. Honestly, I’d expected a bigger change than the one laid before me. Previously, I, along with my mom and dad, had lived in Indiana just about an hour’s drive from the rich side of Chicago, my dad worked there. After the divorce, my mom won custody. Although I hated having myself being fought over like the last slice of pizza, I expected it, both my parents were lawyers but the mothers typically win. I wonder where I got my traits? Anyway, Mom decided we needed a new start, I agreed. So we found a nice house in a small town an hour’s drive on the other side of Chicago. That’s far enough, I guess. So there we were, starting a new life, and I was very much looking forward to it. That’s me, though, I’m very optimistic, always have been always will be. We drove rather quickly as we were both running late, my mom, as usual, was extremely nervous. I was intrigued. I remember, and I don’t know why, a bird. It was sitting on the branch of a bare tree all fluffed up trying to stay warm in the cold air, it was alone. I felt sorry for it there, my eyes following it as we drove past. I was sure no one ever gave that bird a second glance. From then on I waited, with my eyes closed, for the car to slow to a stop.

“Are we there?” I asked not wanting to open my eyes.

“Yes.” My mom answered. I heard her door pop open and I looked at my new school for the first time. It was big, lots of classrooms and lots of windows. I was very happy about the windows. It took up more space than it should, I thought, being that big and only one story. Still, I was glad for it, the space left it open. The first place we went was the office, typical. The lady at the front desk waved us over as she talked on the phone. When she hung up she smiled at us.

“Hello.” She said politely. “You must be Lucas Wright. We don’t get many new students in the middle of a year.” I nodded. She glanced at her computer and started typing. Soon the printer behind her started to moan at its new work and spat out a page. She spun in her chair to grab it, a style that made me smile. “Here’s your schedule sweetie. Mr. Evans class is pretty easy to find, right down that hall.” She pointed. “Of course, you can find your locker first. The first hour started just a while ago.” I nodded and thanked her.

In the hall, my mom said. “Are you okay? Do you need me to help you find the class.”

I shook my head. “No, I’m fine. You can go if you want.” She hugged me and clicked away on her high, black heels. I looked down at the paper in my hand and studied the classes. First Hour was History A; second, Biology B; third, Art; fourth, Algebra Ⅰ B; and fifth was English.

It was easy enough finding my locker, I took with me, to the class, a single pencil and two notebooks. The first thing I did when I found that room was just look. I wondered who among the people I saw would impact my life and relished the moment, the moment of not knowing. When I was ready I knocked on the door. All heads snapped to the door, I smiled and waved at the teacher who came over to open the door. He was pretty average size, about an inch or two taller than myself. He wore an awkward sweater vest and had masterly styled hair that fit his young face. He cracked the door open.

“Yes?” He asked.

“I’m, um... in this class.” I stumbled. I’d never been “the new kid” I didn’t really know what to say.

“The new student?” He asked me. I nodded. “Good, I was wondering where you were.” I said nothing. “Well come in.” He said finally opening the door all the way and stepping aside. I walked into the room saying close to the wall, no knowing where to go. “You can sit by Stephanie.” He pointed to an empty seat at the end of a long table. I walked over and sat down. “What did you say your name was?” Mr. Evans asked once I’d sat down.

“Lucas.” I told him.

“Class this is Lucas.” He said even though everyone already heard me. “He’s the new student I was talking about.” I figured they already knew that since a number of them rolled their eyes. He continued to talk about whatever I had interrupted but my attention was elsewhere. Grades were never my biggest problem. The class was made up of twenty-six people, I counted. A group near the window, across the room from where I was, were laughing quietly at something on some boy’s computer. They were the “good kids”. This I found out later, of course, but their outward appearance said enough for me to be pretty sure that’s who they were. The thing about the “good kids” is they are the ones that look all bright and happy on the outside. They tend to be depressed quite a lot, though. It’s usually grades for them, or pressure with sports, sometimes it’s drama, but I try to keep them and the drama group separate. Members of such a group where located right in front of me, in the middle of the class. They were whispering about some girl that had just broken up with her boyfriend and was apparently “skipping” school because of it. This comment was followed by an array of less favorable words about her. These people also look similar to the “good kids” and affiliate with them, but there is a striking difference in their personalities. The drama groupies are even more hung up on outward looks and tend to be much ruder, of course, they’re only acting tough. Now, they’re not all rude but they are all loud and outspoken sometimes with very little amounts of a filter. There were a few outcasts in the room which were grouped close together in the back or corners of the room. These people generally wear darker or neutral colors so as to show they are outcasts. They would be interested in things, usually, other than school, which is where pretty much everyone else lives. They have their own realm of drama and tend to be reckless and rebellious, sometimes too much for their own good. The thing that all of these people have in common is that they are all focused on their outward statements. Obviously, some have more in common than others, but that statement is almost universal. Something I feel you should know, though, before I continue, is that when I speak of these three groups it is a generalization that labels them as a group and not as individuals. It should be made clear that inside each group there are smaller sub-groups, and inside those even small and smaller groups until it narrows down to each individual person, who is alone in themselves. There are different personalities in every group and the same ones between groups, the groups themselves are based much more off of the individuals’ choices of whom they like to occupy their time with. Also there is that, I was not judging anyone by their outward appearance, which I’m clearly against, rather I am sorting out the outward appearances they intend to show, thus this is how the three groups work.

Now, don’t be upset with me, but I left one group out from the main three, it is a common, small, extremely interesting (in my opinion) group, and it is the group of which that girl, Stephanie, the one I was sitting by, was a part of. This rare yet common and ultimately confusing group I call the loners. The problem with this group is that they can be anything at any stage or walk of life. They can be strong, independent, anxious, depressed, quiet, loud, happy, sad, anything. I think it’s only fare that you know I was also a loner, the confidant kind (for the most part). Stephanie, whom I didn’t know yet, was not. She was one of the loners that felt alone and tried to force her way into any group she could. One, one of the reasons that loners are part of such a group is that they can’t or don’t want to fake their outward appearance to fit into one of the other groups. But she tried.

thepancreas11
July 8th, 2014, 12:05 PM
If nothing else, you have a very personal voice. You write consistently, emotionally, and very detailed. I think specific words, phrases, or stylistic choices used in repetition, something you've done here, can really cement the suspension of disbelief a literary fiction story like this often requires to capture an audience. When you give a character, even the narrator, a couple of common occurrences, when you give them a certain set of beliefs and opinions and you hit those opinions home page after page, you give the character something to hold onto. Readers, I've noticed, often pick up on that substance and make it their own, so good job with that.

I also loved that how frank and open the character is. That's a character you don't often see now, one that wears its heart on its sleeves, unafraid of itself and its past. I think that too many bashful or secretive characters have made their way into mainstream, and it gets a little monotonous, really. I would love to see this character get a full life, even if it really is you.

To that end though, must we know everything up front? A reveal doesn't normally work in the first chapter except to build tension because it bogs the reader down with information. Info-dumping, as this is called, can lead almost certainly to a lost plot or lost character development. You really take the story out of the story, steal its thunder even. I would drop that first paragraph completely. Why do we need to know any of that? Plus, that quirky line that follows would be the very perfect start to this story. Also, why can't we find out about the divorce in a conversation between Mother and Child here? That way, we can figure out who she is at the same time that we learn about him, at the same time that we learn about their situation. That's three birds with one stone. You'll shorten your story, increase the impact, and at the same time, give yourself some more room to put the plot. Show always better than Tell. No one wants to hear about the dinosaurs; they want to SEE dinosaurs (from a safe distance).

Also, I don't know if you've noticed, but throughout my critique, I've been doing something you've been doing. So many of my sentences have modifiers, just like yours. These are phrases that start the sentence but describe the action or are out of order (Reader, I've noticed, often... for example). You do this a lot, and it gums up the works. Don't reinvent the wheel here. The sentence has been around for thousands of years, and it's working pretty well. No need to rip it up and throw it out of whack that often. Once in a while, maybe, but almost every sentence? Not a good idea. It gets really bad when you start say "Previously, I, along with my mom and dad," which just sounds really awkward.

Ditch all the info-dumping in favor of situations where that information could be readily revealed through interaction. Restructure your sentences to get to the point more quickly, more often, and you'll have a pretty good start. The plot's their; right now you're just explaining most of it away.

Greimour
July 8th, 2014, 12:55 PM
I think Pancreas summed this up well.

I go about addressing someones work a little differently however, so I will still give my feedback.

My first issue with the piece was actually with that great quirky sentence following the opening paragraph. I also think the story should start there; but due to it's structure I found myself drawn to the fact you use the same process throughout the entire piece.

Examples:

I was waiting for my mom, she’s a bit of a worrier, to finish double checking everything before we left for my first day at a new school.

So, like I said it was cold, January, Christmas break had just ended and our new life in Illinois, of all places, had begun.

Previously, I, along with my mom and dad, had lived in Indiana just about an hour’s drive from the rich side of Chicago, my dad worked there.

***

Most of the time, you can just change your punctuation or reword ever-so-slightly and you will achieve the desired result. Or at least what I interpreted the intention behind your sentences to be.

For example:

[Yours]
I was waiting for my mom, she’s a bit of a worrier, to finish double checking everything before we left for my first day at a new school.

[Mine]
I was waiting for my mom to finish double checking everything before I left for my first day at a new school. She was always the worrier and dreaded bad first impressions.

Essentially it says the same thing, but the difference in structure allows for a more natural flow of reading. Additionally, if you remove the statement 'she is a bit of a worrier' or in my example remove the second sentence; you might find that the sentence implies the trait anyway. The fact she 'checked everything' told me she was a worrier and perhaps a fuss-pot already. That she both cared and worried for you. I didn't need you (or the narrator) to include that information. I deduced it for myself.

***

In regards to your first quirky sentence that first highlight how you structure your sentences.

It’s impossible to say where to begin. With me, with her, with him, with the very first person, with the very last, well to make it easy, I will start with the sun, because on that day, the sun was very hot, and everything else was very cold.

It did a great job of highlighting the process used throughout. Which is a bad thing because you want attention on the story not the way it is written.
Once noticed, it was impossible to ignore. Had this sentence been a little tidier, it would have been less significant and noticeable for the rest of the work presented.
However, if the rest of your piece was structured differently, the way that was written might've been viewed more positively. Like a colorful painting in a room full of black and white sketches.

How you go about it is your business but I couldn't help wonder how I would do so myself, so here is what I decided I would do in your shoes:

It’s impossible to say where to begin. With me, with her, with him, with the very first person or perhaps the very last. Well to make it easy, I will start with the sun, because on that day, the sun was very hot- and everything else was very cold.

Probably something like that. But really, there is many ways to go about it and I don't dislike the way you chose to do it in the first place. It is only because of the same sentence structure repeated from there onward that it made me frown.

***

You can definitely make this piece stronger by following the advice given by pancreas. Restructure your sentences and get to the point quicker.
Choice punctuation instead of constant commas and a few word replacements could go a long way and help prevent the endless procession of carry-on sentences.

Take for example a sentence I have already quoted:

I’d expected a bigger change than the one laid before me. Previously, I, along with my mom and dad, had lived in Indiana just about an hour’s drive from the rich side of Chicago, my dad worked there.
-vs-
I’d expected a bigger change than the one laid before me. Previously, I, along with my mom and dad, had lived in Indiana just about an hour’s drive from the rich side of Chicago where my dad worked.

by simply swapping a single comma for 'where' and removing 'there' the carry on sentence was avoided. Partly at least.

***

Seems to me you want the reader to catch up too fast. Try writing as if the reader already knows everything and see how it turns out.
It might let you re-evaluate what information you need to get across, how to get it across, when to get it across and why it is important to get across.


I like the story but I would have liked it more if it had a more solid sentence structure, less overloading of information and more slack for imagination to stretch it's legs.

I also like the straight-forward and blunt 'this is how it is' attitude of the narrator. Completely open and very matter-of-fact.


I am glad you shared this piece and glad I read it. I look forward to seeing stuff you share in the future.


~Kev.

allyson17white
July 8th, 2014, 07:42 PM
My first issue with the piece was actually with that great quirky sentence following the opening paragraph. I also think the story should start there; but due to it's structure I found myself drawn to the fact you use the same process throughout the entire piece.

Most of the time, you can just change your punctuation or reword ever-so-slightly and you will achieve the desired result. Or at least what I interpreted the intention behind your sentences to be.

Essentially it says the same thing, but the difference in structure allows for a more natural flow of reading. Additionally, if you remove the statement 'she is a bit of a worrier' or in my example remove the second sentence; you might find that the sentence implies the trait anyway. The fact she 'checked everything' told me she was a worrier and perhaps a fuss-pot already. That she both cared and worried for you. I didn't need you (or the narrator) to include that information. I deduced it for myself.
I'm going about fixing up that first sentence and I removed the first paragraph. I was unsettled by that beginning anyhow and really like the advise you and pancreas gave.



You can definitely make this piece stronger by following the advice given by pancreas. Restructure your sentences and get to the point quicker.
Choice punctuation instead of constant commas and a few word replacements could go a long way and help prevent the endless procession of carry-on sentences.

Take for example a sentence I have already quoted:

I’d expected a bigger change than the one laid before me. Previously, I, along with my mom and dad, had lived in Indiana just about an hour’s drive from the rich side of Chicago, my dad worked there.
-vs-
I’d expected a bigger change than the one laid before me. Previously, I, along with my mom and dad, had lived in Indiana just about an hour’s drive from the rich side of Chicago where my dad worked.

by simply swapping a single comma for 'where' and removing 'there' the carry on sentence was avoided. Partly at least.


I'll go through my story using this advise and see what commas I can take out. I'll also try to sort out some of my sentences as pancreas suggested. I wouldn't change all of them of course, I don't want to lose the charters voice.



Seems to me you want the reader to catch up too fast. Try writing as if the reader already knows everything and see how it turns out.
It might let you re-evaluate what information you need to get across, how to get it across, when to get it across and why it is important to get across.

I like the story but I would have liked it more if it had a more solid sentence structure, less overloading of information and more slack for imagination to stretch it's legs.

I also like the straight-forward and blunt 'this is how it is' attitude of the narrator. Completely open and very matter-of-fact.

I am glad you shared this piece and glad I read it. I look forward to seeing stuff you share in the future.


Thank you, and I'm working on polishing up the story so that there's not so much over-explaining. I don't think I will change how I mention the divorce. Although the way it was suggested to do it by a conversation between Lucas and his mom is a good idea, I think it would sound awkward. After a divorce you don't just talk about it, you let it settle although you think of it all the time. This way I think it makes more sense to have him mention it when he's speaking to the reader and not his mom. It would also suggest that there was some conflict in there relationship, which ever though things are tense they aren't mad at each other which is what talking about it would entail. I think pancreas suggested it. Anyway, I'm taking your advise and found it very helpful. So, again thank you for the advise, I really am passionate about this story and want it to work out.

allyson17white
July 8th, 2014, 08:21 PM
To that end though, must we know everything up front? A reveal doesn't normally work in the first chapter except to build tension because it bogs the reader down with information. Info-dumping, as this is called, can lead almost certainly to a lost plot or lost character development. You really take the story out of the story, steal its thunder even. I would drop that first paragraph completely. Why do we need to know any of that? Plus, that quirky line that follows would be the very perfect start to this story. Also, why can't we find out about the divorce in a conversation between Mother and Child here? That way, we can figure out who she is at the same time that we learn about him, at the same time that we learn about their situation. That's three birds with one stone. You'll shorten your story, increase the impact, and at the same time, give yourself some more room to put the plot. Show always better than Tell. No one wants to hear about the dinosaurs; they want to SEE dinosaurs (from a safe distance).

Also, I don't know if you've noticed, but throughout my critique, I've been doing something you've been doing. So many of my sentences have modifiers, just like yours. These are phrases that start the sentence but describe the action or are out of order (Reader, I've noticed, often... for example). You do this a lot, and it gums up the works. Don't reinvent the wheel here. The sentence has been around for thousands of years, and it's working pretty well. No need to rip it up and throw it out of whack that often. Once in a while, maybe, but almost every sentence? Not a good idea. It gets really bad when you start say "Previously, I, along with my mom and dad," which just sounds really awkward.

Ditch all the info-dumping in favor of situations where that information could be readily revealed through interaction. Restructure your sentences to get to the point more quickly, more often, and you'll have a pretty good start. The plot's their; right now you're just explaining most of it away.

Okay, so I've gone through mostly but don't know if I've made all the changes that you intended. As far as the info-dumping it would help if you could give me a few examples so that I know what I'm looking for. Greimour gave some examples as far as sentence structure so I've tried to fix those (not that I know if I did it right). So anyway, examples help, and also you mentioned a reveal. If your talking about the divorce, I don't think of it as a reveal I think of it as more of a fact of life, a plain statement; of course I can see how you could view it in another way. If you aren't talking about that, of course, could you point out the situations that you're talking about. I just want to be sure that I don't fix what isn't broken. I think I tend to do that. OH, and I always here the "show is better than tell" thing. It's obviously important but I'm not sure how to fully use that knowledge because when I try more of the "showing" stuff I end up listing things. So also perhaps an example of where I could fix that up in my story would also help. Of course, you don't have to but I want to be sure I have a full understanding of your advise. And of course, thank you for the advise already given. It's much appreciated.

Ibb
July 8th, 2014, 08:41 PM
What the others have mentioned I'd agree with as well. But to offer up some encouragement, I say that your willingness to write so bluntly, and honestly, is a strong indicator of the writer you may become. Your writing is direct and clearly stated, and because it lacks pretension it's immediately more engaging than had you attempted to dazzle with a more 'literary' opening. It's not great writing, but it's sign that you've the capability of great writing within you. It was a brave piece to post, and I'm sure that if you continue to write you will write braver, stronger pieces in the future. Good job.

Greimour
July 8th, 2014, 09:37 PM
The whole show vs tell thing is infuriating. Don't worry about it too much. If you want to clear up what is meant by it then I suggest either Cadence (http://www.writingforums.com/members/46057-Cadence) or KyleColorado (http://www.writingforums.com/members/13710-KyleColorado) for explanations. Many on the site are capable but I have memories of being impressed by their responses on such subjects. That is of course if you want to learn about the whole show vs tell in general.

If you just want it pointed out to you when you do it in your writing, then I would like to say that 'tell' isn't necessarily bad. And 'show' isn't always good either.
One example would again be a part I mentioned. The one I shown you a rewrite for even.

I was waiting for my mom,she’s a bit of a worrier, to finish double checking everything before we left for my first day at a new school.

The entire sentence (except the highlighted red) shows that she is a worrier. The red section tells us she is a worrier. That's why I said it isn't needed. You(narrator/Lucas) show us your mom is a worrier and frets and fusses... but in the middle of showing us that do you suddenly feel the need to also tell us that she is a worrier. Its like showing me a photograph of a giraffe and as I look at it you say; "it's a giraffe" ... my only response is: "No duh." which is sarcasm for "You don't say."

So like I said. The sentence is showing me she is a worrier (and more), but the red section is telling me she is a worrier.

**

For the reveal thing Pancreas mention; I didn't feel like it was the divorce in particular that was the problem (though I may be wrong)...

I felt it was all of the unnecessary information. Whether information that can be saved for later, or information not needed at all - or just the fact that you presented so much information one after the other. The Move, the divorce, the new school, your mom the worrier... there was a lot to take in. Little bits of information whenever it becomes relevant is better than all the information at the beginning. Otherwise the surprises are just conclusions following events that are predictable.

Imagine: You've known me for 15 years. All that time you thought my hair was naturally a long luxurious black... and then I tell you I was born bald and have never had real hair in my life. I've worn wigs my entire life... Surprise!
On the other hand, you have always known I am bald but my girlfriend didn't. When she found out - you were like "So?" ... but she was more: "Oh My effin Jebus! What the Ookin Took?!"

Well, that's the reader vs the character.
The characters are all: "Oh your mom and dad divorced? Mine too" boo hoo...
But the reader is like..: "Yeah... so? I've known that for ages get on with it..."

Get what I am saying? Revealing information at the wrong time can mean reiterating it later - at which point the reader may no longer care and the writing in that scene (which should be all grand and emotional) becomes flat and stale.


~Kev.

allyson17white
July 9th, 2014, 09:16 AM
The whole show vs tell thing is infuriating. Don't worry about it too much. If you want to clear up what is meant by it then I suggest either Cadence (http://www.writingforums.com/members/46057-Cadence) or KyleColorado (http://www.writingforums.com/members/13710-KyleColorado) for explanations. Many on the site are capable but I have memories of being impressed by their responses on such subjects. That is of course if you want to learn about the whole show vs tell in general.

If you just want it pointed out to you when you do it in your writing, then I would like to say that 'tell' isn't necessarily bad. And 'show' isn't always good either.
One example would again be a part I mentioned. The one I shown you a rewrite for even.

I was waiting for my mom,she’s a bit of a worrier, to finish double checking everything before we left for my first day at a new school.

The entire sentence (except the highlighted red) shows that she is a worrier. The red section tells us she is a worrier. That's why I said it isn't needed. You(narrator/Lucas) show us your mom is a worrier and frets and fusses... but in the middle of showing us that do you suddenly feel the need to also tell us that she is a worrier. Its like showing me a photograph of a giraffe and as I look at it you say; "it's a giraffe" ... my only response is: "No duh." which is sarcasm for "You don't say."

So like I said. The sentence is showing me she is a worrier (and more), but the red section is telling me she is a worrier.

**

For the reveal thing Pancreas mention; I didn't feel like it was the divorce in particular that was the problem (though I may be wrong)...

I felt it was all of the unnecessary information. Whether information that can be saved for later, or information not needed at all - or just the fact that you presented so much information one after the other. The Move, the divorce, the new school, your mom the worrier... there was a lot to take in. Little bits of information whenever it becomes relevant is better than all the information at the beginning. Otherwise the surprises are just conclusions following events that are predictable.

Imagine: You've known me for 15 years. All that time you thought my hair was naturally a long luxurious black... and then I tell you I was born bald and have never had real hair in my life. I've worn wigs my entire life... Surprise!
On the other hand, you have always known I am bald but my girlfriend didn't. When she found out - you were like "So?" ... but she was more: "Oh My effin Jebus! What the Ookin Took?!"

Well, that's the reader vs the character.
The characters are all: "Oh your mom and dad divorced? Mine too" boo hoo...
But the reader is like..: "Yeah... so? I've known that for ages get on with it..."

Get what I am saying? Revealing information at the wrong time can mean reiterating it later - at which point the reader may no longer care and the writing in that scene (which should be all grand and emotional) becomes flat and stale.


~Kev.

Okay. As far as the reveal thing goes I think I understand. The story actually begins to focus on Stephanie more than Lucas, and it's more his life adventure with her than anything that has troubled him up to this point. I do still have a few "ghosts" (if you want to call them that) that will show up from Lucas' past. Anyway, the divorce wouldn't be anything I need or want the reader to be all "boo hoo" about, or the move, or really anything like that. Lucas is one of those people that are almost who they should be. He's not going to be the one that needs to be broken in the beginning. He's sort of a suffer with you type of guy. Of course, I really get into my characters' personalities but Stephanie is the one that'll hit you with the surprises. At least I hope. Still, the divorce and move themselves cause very little conflict so I figure there probably isn't any reason to make it a big reveal when it won't go anywhere.

***

Your example of the showing vs telling is very helpful. I think I will ask one of the people you suggested for a more in depth explanation, but your example will help me make a few more changes as of now.
Again thank you for the help. I really appreciate it.

allyson17white
July 10th, 2014, 09:14 PM
Okay, I'm sure I missed the majority of things but here's my attempt to edit it.

It’s impossible to say where to begin. With me, with her, with him, with the very first person, with the very last. Well to make it easy, I will start with the sun, because on that day, the sun was very hot, and everything else was very cold.

I found it quite perplexing, the heat on my face and cold at my back, like swimming in ice water on a burning summer day. I was waiting for my mom to finish double checking everything before we left for my first day at a new school. Like I said it was cold, Christmas break had just ended giving a white start to our new life in Illinois. Honestly, I’d expected a bigger change than the one laid before me. Previously, I had lived in Indiana just about an hour’s drive from the rich side of Chicago where my dad worked. After the divorce, my mom won custody. Although I hated having myself being fought over like the last slice of pizza, I expected it, both my parents were lawyers. I wonder where I got my traits? Anyway, Mom decided we needed a new start, I agreed. So we found a nice house in a small town an hour’s drive on the other side of Chicago. I guess that was far enough. So there we were, starting a new life, and I was very much looking forward to it. That’s me, though, I’m very optimistic, always have been always will be. We drove rather quickly as we were both running late. My mom, as usual, was extremely nervous. I was more intrigued. I remember for whatever reason, a bird. It was sitting on the branch of a bare tree all fluffed up trying to stay warm in the cold air and it was alone. I felt sorry for it there, my eyes following it as we drove past. I was sure no one ever gave that bird a second glance. From then on I waited with my eyes closed for the car to slow to a stop.

“Are we there?” I asked not wanting to open my eyes.

“Yes.” My mom answered. I heard her door pop open and looked at my new school for the first time. It was big, lots of classrooms and lots of windows. I was very happy about the windows. It took up more space than it should being that big. Still, I was glad for it. The space left it open. The first place we went was the office, typical. The lady at the front desk waved us over as she talked on the phone. When she hung up she smiled at us.

“Hello.” She said politely. “You must be Lucas Wright. We don’t get many new students in the middle of a year.” I nodded. She glanced at her computer and started typing. Soon the printer behind her started to moan at its new work and spat out a page. She spun in her chair to grab it. A style that made me smile. “Here’s your schedule sweetie. Mr. Evans’ class is pretty easy to find, right down that hall.” She pointed. “You have time to find your locker first. The first hour started just a while ago.” I nodded and thanked her.

In the hall, my mom asked. “Are you okay? Do you need me to help you find the class?”

I shook my head. “No, I’m fine. You can go if you want.” She hugged me and clicked away on her high, black heels. I looked down at the paper in my hand and studied the classes. First Hour was History A; second, Biology B; third, English; fourth, Algebra Ⅰ B; and fifth was Art.

It was easy enough finding my locker. I left my backpack in there and simply took a pencil and two notebooks to class with me. The first thing I did when I found that room was just look. I wondered who among the people I saw would impact my life and relished the moment. The moment of not knowing. When I was ready I knocked on the door. All heads snapped my way. I smiled and waved at the teacher as he came over to open the door. He was pretty average size, about an inch or two taller than myself. He wore an awkward sweater vest and had masterly styled hair that fit his young face. He cracked the door open.
“Yes?” He asked.

“I’m, um... in this class.” I stumbled. I’d never been “the new kid” I didn’t really know what to say.

“The new student?” He asked me. I nodded. “Good, I was wondering where you were.” I said nothing. “Well come in.” He said finally opening the door all the way and stepping aside. I walked into the room saying close to the wall. I had no idea where to go. “You can sit by Stephanie.” He pointed to an empty seat at the end of a long table. I walked over and sat down. “What did you say your name was?” Mr. Evans asked once I’d sat down.

“Lucas.” I told him.

“Class this is Lucas.” He repeated even though everyone already heard me. “He’s the new student I was talking about.” I figured they already knew that since a number of them rolled their eyes. He continued to talk about whatever I had interrupted but my attention was elsewhere. Grades were never my biggest problem. The class was made up of twenty-six people. A group near the window, across the room from where I was, were laughing quietly at something on some boy’s computer. They were the “good kids”. This I found out later, of course, but their outward appearance said enough for me to be pretty sure that’s who they were. The thing about the “good kids” is they are the ones that look all bright and happy on the outside. They tend to be depressed quite a lot, though. It’s usually grades for them, or pressure with sports, sometimes it’s drama, but I try to keep them and the drama group separate. Members of such a group where located right in front of me, in the middle of the class. They were whispering about some girl that had just broken up with her boyfriend and was apparently “skipping” school because of it. This comment was followed by an array of less favorable words about her. These people also look similar to the “good kids” and affiliate with them, but there is a striking difference in their personalities. The drama groupies are even more hung up on outward looks and tend to be much ruder. Of course, they’re only acting tough. Now, they’re not all rude but they are all loud and outspoken sometimes with very little amounts of a filter. There were a few outcasts in the room which were grouped close together in the back or corners of the room. These people generally wear darker or neutral colors so as to show they are outcasts. They would usually be interested in things other than school, which is where pretty much everyone else lives. They have their own realm of drama and tend to be reckless and rebellious, sometimes too much for their own good. The thing that all of these people have in common is that they are all focused on their outward statements. Obviously, some have more in common than others, but that statement is almost universal. Something I feel you should know before I continue, is that when I speak of these three groups it is a generalization that labels them as a group and not as individuals. It should be made clear that inside each group there are smaller sub-groups. Inside those even smaller and smaller groups exist until it narrows down to each individual person, who is alone in themselves. There are different personalities in every group and the same ones between groups. The groups themselves are based much more off of the individuals’ choices of whom they like to occupy their time with. Also there is that, I was not judging anyone by their outward appearance, which I’m clearly against, rather I am sorting out the outward appearances they intend to show, thus this is how the three groups work.

Now don’t be upset with me just yet. I left one group out from the main three. It is a common, small, extremely interesting group, and it is the group of which that girl, Stephanie, was a part of. This rare yet common and ultimately confusing group I call the loners. The problem with this group is that they can be anything at any stage or walk of life. They can be strong, independent, anxious, depressed, quiet, loud, happy, sad, anything. I think it’s only fare that you know I was also a loner, the confidant kind (for the most part). Stephanie was not. She was one of those loners that felt alone and tried to force her way into any group she could. One, one of the reasons that loners are part of such a group is that they can’t or don’t want to fake their outward appearance to fit into one of the other groups. But she tried.