I am sorry for the long disappearance and lack of posts, but this Friday, we have a Middle Grade novel excerpt from a very patient Rebekah. Rebekah wrote this novel a few years ago, and now she is going back to revise and rewrite. Specifically, she would like constructive comments on realistic dialogue.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to comment on this piece! Even short, simple comments are very helpful. So please do not feel obliged to give a long, comprehensive critique.
Open Pen is a critique opportunity on this blog. It is specifically meant for teenage writers who want feedback from their peers, but anyone is welcome to submit. If you are interested in submitting or learning more about Open Pen, you can on the Open Pen page.
Excerpt from The Book Chapter 3: The Discovery by Rebekah
One dreary afternoon in the attic, Alice-May decided to ask the dangerous questions that had often been playing on her mind. “Where are you really from?” she asked, “Who are your parents?”
Cassidy sighed as she stared out the window, trickles of rain painting its grimy surface. She couldn’t keep it all in forever. “I am from Japan,” she said, her Irish lilt seeping into her words. “I’m a ninja.”
Alice-May almost jumped through the roof. “A WHAT?!!!!” she exclaimed.
“Hush,” hissed Cassidy, covering her friend’s mouth, “I knew you’d react like this. Anyone would, really.”
“Okay, sorry. Go on,” urged Alice-May.
“Well, as I was saying,” Cassie continued, “My mother was a Japanese ninja. I don’t know who my father was though. He was Irish I think. My surname is Lane, which originates from Ireland. Don’t ask me why a Japanese woman would marry an Irish man, because I have no clue. His parents may not have both been Irish either. I think he was actually born in Japan as well… Anyway, my mother was a ninja, and one of the best. Not many females were accepted into the shinobi – that’s another word for ‘ninja’ in Japanese. I originally trained with the other children of the shinobi. When I was six, I was sent to Kyoto to train. When I was ten, my mother was sent to Sydney to do some work there. I was carted off to a boring place where I’d have to be schooled by these friends of my mother’s, but then there was an attack by the Enemy. I ran away and didn’t try to go back, in case it wasn’t safe. I had the address of this house, which possibly belonged to my great-grandparents. I don’t know much about it though, and I’m currently trying to find out who my father was… No. Who he is. Mother and the others say he died, but I don’t believe it.” The edges of Cassidy’s eyes were moist. “I don’t believe them!” she yelled defiantly, a quiver in her voice.
“It’s okay Cassie. Don’t cry. I’m sure he’s still alive somewhere,” assured Alice-May, tentatively reaching to stroke the smaller girl’s back. “How did they say he died?”
“Th- they say he was… assassinated,” choked Cassidy, blinking back another stream of tears.
“Maybe he’s in hiding, or was kidnapped. He couldn’t be dead. Was he a ninja too?” asked Alice-May, now stroking her friend’s dark hair in a maternal manner.
“Well, I think he was a warrior of some sort. I don’t know what though. Maybe he’s in hiding. He wouldn’t have let anyone kill him,” said Cassidy, trying not to expose her own doubts.
“Well, let’s explore the rest of the house then,” Alice-May suggested, deciding it would be best to leave the personal stories untouched.
They headed down the stairs from the attic and into the main house. The wind howled through the hallway. The floorboards creaked. No wonder Cassidy stayed in the attic.
“What’s the ‘Garbage Room’?” asked Alice-May, looking at the three strange buttons again.
“Well, it’s really a training room, but it was labelled ‘Garbage Room’ to repel anyone that might decide to go there. It contains some extremely valuable artefacts. Please promise not to tell anyone about it,” she pleaded.
“Okay, I promise,” said Alice-May. “Can we go there? You can show me all the ninja-y stuff you do.”
Cassidy smiled softly, “Brace yourself, Ally. It may be more – or less – amazing than you think.”
She pressed ‘Garbage Room’ and part of the wall flipped around, showing a keypad. Cassidy punched a sequence of numbers and……
“Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Alice-May screamed. She internally kicked herself. She never screamed. Ever.
They were falling. There must have been a trapdoor beneath them, thought Alice-May.
Alice-May landed on a mattress at the bottom, and Cassidy stood beside her.
“Welcome to the ‘Garbage Room’,” Cassidy said, the corners of her lips turning upwards into a satisfied smirk.
In the middle of the room was a rotating training course with hanging spike things, dummies, fire – everything you can imagine a ninja would ever face.
To the left was a row of punching bags. Above them, warehouse lights dangled precariously, and on the right was – a tea-table?
At the far end of the room was a chest. Cassidy ran over to it and pulled a key from around her neck and opened the chest. Inside were a whole bunch of cool weapons. Katanas, scythes, nunchucks, shurikens, you name it.
Cassidy drew a blunt katana out of a worn leather scabbard. “For training,” she explained, as if reading Alice-May’s mind. The sharpened weapons would be kept for more important situations.
Then she sprang into action on the rotating course. Punching, slashing, jumping and rolling. It was amazing to watch. Afterwards……. they had tea.