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Total posts: [20]

How do I plausibly update this legend?:

 1 Morwen Edhelwen, Tue, 19th Feb '13 4:06:57 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
So I'm drafting a recent idea I had, which is based on the folktale of Sigurd The Dragon Slayer (the Volsunga Saga). My version of the story is set in the future, and has a strong fantasy element. The problem is that I have no idea how to plausibly and successfully update some of the tale's elements to a fantasy future setting in America, instead of The Time of Myths in Denmark. I chose this one because no-one ever retells it. Could someone familiar with the original story help me?

Here's the plot I've worked on: In the 22nd century, 15-year-old Sigurd Volsung has been raised by Regin, a dwarf, in a hut in the woods outside the city, after his mother, Hjordis, an African American woman, died in childbirth from a fever, leaving a note several days before her death in which she placed him in Regin's care. Regin raises Sigurd like a son, training him as a farrier/blacksmith, but is protective of him and home schools him until high school. For most of his life, Sigurd has known that there is another world out there and heard of a dragon threatening the exiles from the ancient dwarf kingdom of Nidavellir. When he hears that his foster father is secretly a prince of Nidavellir, he may be instrumental in defeating the dragon and reclaiming the kingdom and its treasure, he has to face the purpose he's been raised for.

My main issues with the plot:

  • Brynhild (Brunnhilde). In the original story she was a Valkyrie who slept inside a castle tower surrounded by a ring of fire on a mountain until a man could ride through it and wake her up. How do I work this (a ring of fire) into a futuristic setting, still keeping the magical element, without it being silly?

  • The broken sword. One crucial part of the original story is a broken sword, Gram, Sigurd's heirloom from his dead father. It really stretches suspension of disbelief that the sword would be broken twice. So what could substitute for a broken sword and plausibly play the same role in the plot?

  • Why DOES Sigurd have to be home schooled anyway? He's gifted, but what other (hidden) reasons could there be? To make him easier to psychologically manipulate? It would be equally believable if he went to school and was manipulated at home in the woods. I'm doing it as a Call Back though.

edited 10th May '13 1:41:40 AM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 2 Morwen Edhelwen, Tue, 19th Feb '13 10:16:51 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 3 Matues, Sat, 23rd Feb '13 8:35:27 PM Relationship Status: Reincarnated romance
A Girl in a Skyscraper behind an Electric Fence?

The rain in Spain tend to drain the brain of sane.
 4 Morwen Edhelwen, Sat, 23rd Feb '13 9:51:42 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
@Matues: Good, but I want to keep a supernatural element in the tale. I already have the idea that she's an Artificial Human Super Soldier and the place she's being kept in is a government facility. She is being imprisoned there because she saved someone going against the evil corporation.
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
I think you might be looking at it the wrong way. I'm actually doing a pirate-themed Journey to the West adaption, so I looked into "how to retell a story while giving it a twist". It seems like you're trying take the story, word for word but putting it in a different setting.

You should be using the original story as a framework. Like boil it down to it's most basic plot points and then build a story from that. Afterwards, determine what it is about the original story you like (themes, ideas, settings, morals) and try to build your new story in a way that emphasizes the elements you like. You can also get rid of or redo characters and plotlines that don't fit in with the new story.

But, if you want to stick with what you got, here are some ideas:

Brynhild: the "ring of fire" doesn't have to be literal. Maybe a "firewall". Brynhild could be some kind of robot or AI. "Ring of Fire" has also been used as a metaphor for Hell so maybe through in some kind of religious/church shenanigans. Or you said something about her being in a government facility. Maybe "Fire" or "Ring of Fire" is some kind of government codeword.

The broken sword: back then, swords were symbols for maturity. Sigurd repairing the sword is probably some kind of metaphor for "gaining maturity". The modern equivalent would probably Sigurd getting his dad's car or property but must prove himself worthy by completing some kind of task to acquire it. Another layer to the story is that the sword is broken by the god Odin when Sigurd's dad attacks Odin. Repairing the sword could be seen as a "sins of the father" type deal like Sigurd righting a wrong his father committed.

Why DOES Sigurd have to be home schooled anyway? Maybe his parents can't afford public school (if you want to do kind of a dystopian future thing, I don't know the details of the setting). There are people in real-life who are home schooled so just Google search why some parents want their kids to be home schooled and you should be able to find a believable reason.

edited 24th Feb '13 11:46:08 AM by WSM

 6 Morwen Edhelwen, Sun, 24th Feb '13 1:06:45 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
@WSM: Those ideas are great, thanks. Actually, you brought up a great idea; thinking in terms of how to update it with a twist (I've been thinking of that for quite a while), but never actually thought of it that way, if you know what I mean. I was thinking of combining the Sigurd legend with aspects of changeling tales. Dwarves in German folklore were said to take human children to raise as their own. How could I emphasise the interracial adoption element? After all, in the original story, Sigurd isn't raised by his biological parents. He's got a foster father, Regin, a dwarf.

Basically, what did I like about the story? Everything. To me, the core of the story is the relationship between this extremely smart, exceptional kid and his foster father, basically how it feels to be raised by someone who's obviously not your biological parent, especially one of a different race, and the relationship between human and non-human, and his coming-of-age by proving his maturity (killing a dragon) with the tools from both his adopted and biological fathers (Regin reforges the sword). Essentially, in my opinion at least, this is a story about a transracial adoption and how both sets of a child's parents play an important role in their maturity. I'm not adopted, but I have read blogs on the subject.

Also, back in those days fosterage was related to a quasi-adoption, so by killing Fafnir, Sigurd is both proving himself and fulfilling the duty of a "good" foster child by taking revenge on behalf of his foster father.

edited 24th Feb '13 3:41:04 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
Ok, that's good. Now that you know what it is you want to show in the story, I would suggest breaking the story down to beats. Particularly, the plot involving Sigmund and his foster father. Like how dwarf dad reacts to Sigmund's maturing or how he tries to be Sigmund's father even if he's not really his father. I'm not saying this has to be THE plot but it may help if you take a chunck out of the story to focus on the foster-father/son dynamic. That can be a good "emotional core" for the story; to keep the audience caring about Sigmund while he's doing all the fantasy, sci-fi adventure stuff.
 8 Morwen Edhelwen, Sun, 24th Feb '13 4:05:21 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
@WSM: Nitpick: His name's Sigurd. Sigmund was his biological father.
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
Sorry, easy mistake
 10 Last Hussar, Sun, 24th Feb '13 5:35:47 PM from the place is here.
The time is now,
With th 22nd century you are looking at a lot of Hi-tech replacements. Could the sword be coding of someform?

I liked Firewall idea, but my first thought was radioactivity. Could he have to overcome pollution?
Do the job in front of you.
 11 Morwen Edhelwen, Sun, 24th Feb '13 7:04:38 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
@Hussar: Nice! And he has a magical shield/suit of armour forged by his foster dad, so radiation doesn't affect him (yeah, there's some Magitek). Also, I could split the sword into coding and an actual sword.

And I came up with this idea. Since in mythology Norns are said to visit everyone when they are born and determine their fate, maybe there's a code of "Show hospitality to the Norns when my child is born" so as not to risk the idea of your kid being fated to live a bad life, as once a Norn has woven out a possibility for someone's life, it's very hard to get them to unravel it. It can be done, but it's difficult.

Even more so when they decide to focus on one particular possibility, increasing the odds that your life will turn out a certain way. And each person in each family gets their own personal Norn. So part of the story involves Sigurd discovering what his destiny is, trying to find the Norn that was assigned to him and getting her to reweave the part where he betrays Brynhild and dies young after literally getting shot in the back as revenge. There are additional themes of destiny and fate.

edited 25th Feb '13 4:13:48 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 12 Morwen Edhelwen, Mon, 25th Feb '13 10:35:13 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
I'm still thinking over whether to include the gods (Odin especially), because they don't usually intervene in people's lives in the period of the story, in either this world or the other (fantasy) one, as much as they used to. Not as in "BAM! Here comes a god to save the day!" but as in, "Oh, could that be — it is! The gods are on our side against the Dark Lord! We're SAVED!''
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
If you want to be more sci-if, you could have the "the gods" be some kind of omnipotent supercomputer. Like the Operation Division and Information Network a.k.a. The O.D.I.N. Maybe the gods can be some kind of big brother-esque government group.

Or, if you want something more realistic, replace the gods with faith. Like incorporeal, nameless force. People referring to this force as "the gods" is probably too on-the-nose. The problem with a lot of fantasy, I think, is people tend to portray gods as super powered kings rather than actual gods.
 14 Morwen Edhelwen, Tue, 26th Feb '13 2:02:34 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
A big brother-esque government group with strange powers and a one-eyed leader.
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 15 Last Hussar, Tue, 26th Feb '13 2:21:10 PM from the place is here.
The time is now,
"Some omnipotent supercomputer..."

Beat you by 23 years [lol] tongue

Jones raised one eyebrow quizzically. “One meets so few well spoken neo-gothic computers nowadays. A great loss I feel.”
“Yes?” rumbled the machine.
“I don’t suppose you have a name?” asked Jones hesitantly.
“I am Digital Entropy Induction Tool, Y series.”
“DEITY.” groaned Zarathustra. “I hate that, people who come up with an acronym, then make the title fit it. I take it you are a Chaos Engine then?”

WSM/Morwen - What DO gods do when Man doesn't need them anymore? It great being the God of Thunder until some smart-arse in a lab coat explains it with ruddy physics. Then what? wink

edited 26th Feb '13 2:25:36 PM by LastHussar

Do the job in front of you.
 16 Morwen Edhelwen, Tue, 26th Feb '13 3:01:26 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
They still go on being gods in a different way. They assume human form and take up professions related to their old jobs, allowing them to use their powers. For example, Odin could be a (benevolent) dictator. He is called the Allfather... Thor probably figures out how to use lightning in some capacity, to protect people.

edited 26th Feb '13 3:13:13 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 17 Last Hussar, Tue, 26th Feb '13 3:21:22 PM from the place is here.
The time is now,
I was opening the door... grin
Do the job in front of you.
 18 Morwen Edhelwen, Fri, 1st Mar '13 12:46:51 AM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
[up] Thanks. BTW, nice avatar, where is it from?
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 19 Morwen Edhelwen, Mon, 4th Mar '13 3:00:33 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
Is there a way to keep the story really really dark and give it a happy ending without softening it? In the original Sigurd folktale, Sigurd's foster father Regin plans to kill him for the dragon's hoard (I've resolved that by having him originally adopt Sigurd to get the treasure/kingdom back from the evil shapeshifting dragon, but eventually Becomes The Mask and develops feelings for the kid) But then there is that ending, when he betrays Brynhild (to be fair, it wasn't his fault). If I were to add an ending where he suddenly remembers her and they get back together, would that water the story down? I'm nervous about that because I don't believe in Disneyfication.

edited 4th Mar '13 3:13:27 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
The story can be dark and still have a happy ending. In fact, I find that happy ending are more poignant after a dark story. Just try to make sure the ending doesn't feel forced or rushed.
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Total posts: 20

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