Thursday, September 8, 2011

Talking Heads: Beta Test #4

TITLE: Knowing Kathmandu
GENRE: Action/Lit Fict

Ryan, former medical-aid smuggler, currently working in Kathmandu as a journalist, is caught in the crossfire of Nepal’s civil war. Here he phones his old smuggling partner, Lance, in London:

“Lance, it’s Ryan. I just left K.” Their tag for Kathmandu.

“About f*****’ time,” Lance said.

“I have to lay low. Apparently, I’ve angered Tashi [note: a Maoist kingpin].”

“Tashi? Tell him to piss off.” A pause. “Tell him I said so.”

Ryan had no intention of telling Tashi anything.

“Whose horse are you riding?” Lance asked.

He didn’t reply.

“Bloody hell, what are you up to?”

Best reveal the truth. “I joined a small group, with Chho and Pema. Autonomous, centrist. Currently working in silence.”

“God help us. More feats of secret chivalry.”

Ryan appreciated Lance’s position. In his eyes, Ryan was a loose cannon. He’d embraced politics again when he’d promised to give it up. If he were honest with himself, he’d gotten involved for his rejuvenation as well as Nepal’s. “I suppose you could say that.”

“F*****’ hell. You suppose? And I suppose you’re living large while Lancy-boy has lost his way, submerged his spirit. You going to tell me that the trick to growing up is to keep your idealism after you lose your innocence?”

Ryan felt immensely tired. “No.”

Lance sighed. “Alright. Look, you’re a good man, resolute, a heart like a lion. Think I’m going to let you off the hook for that? Well, take this to heart. Everyone should be a socialist when they’re twenty. If you’re still one when you’re forty, you’re a fool. You’ve got a few months.”


  1. I like your dialogue. There's a rushed tension that pulls me into the story. And that last line is hilarious :) Great job!

  2. Love Lance's last line!

    I was missing any kind of action, though. Basically, the only interuptions to the dialog were thoughts, not actions. Even in a phone conversation it's important to let the character's body language do some talking.

    "Ryan felt immensely tired" is very telling. It could be much stronger if you show us how tired he is by something he does - knead his forehead, close his eyes while massaging the back of his neck, whatever.

    The actual dialog gave us two distinct characters. Nice job with that.

  3. I was confused as to who was talking at times and which 'he' you were referring to, and had to read it several times to figure it out. It might be due to the fact that I'm coming in in the middle of the scene, but if you added an action here and there, it would make Ryan's dialogue clearly Ryan's, since we can't see what Lance is doing.

    And as TKastle said, it'll also give us a feeling of what Ryan's emotions are. A little something in the "He didn't reply' parg would give us an indication as to why he didn't reply.

    In the "Ryan appreciated Lance's position' parg., you might put the dialogue first, followed by the narrative, that way his reply comes immediatelty, as it would in a real conversation, and perhaps use 'he' when referring to Ryan, because Ryan wouldn't think of himself as Ryan.

  4. I'm a reporter, so the red flag for me is that Ryan -- a journalist -- is joining a (secret?) political group. Reporters -- good ones, anyway -- don't do that because they take seriously the need to be impartial.

    Cool beans if you know that and you're using this job/life conflict to good effect for plot purposes. I just wanted to make sure it was intentional.

  5. Wow! This ROCKED! I love (absolutely LOVE) the character of Lance, and the saucy spitfire dialog between he and Ryan is way-deep in CONFLICT. Great work!!

  6. With the exception of the "lose your innocence" para, I thought Lance's dialog was really interesting and real.

    I wasn't sure about Ryan's. In the first half, it felt like Lance was responding only to Ryan's thoughts, or just talking to himself (since Ryan didn't say anything twice in a row).

    Lance's "lose your innocence" bit felt a little too philosophical for the character I'd gotten in my head. And the whole "resolute, a heart like a lion," felt more like the author talking to me than what someone would really say.

    That said, I agree with the others: Lance's last line is gold.

  7. I really enjoyed this. The back and forth pacing of the dialogue was spot on. I had no problems figuring out who was speaking when.

    I liked that the tone of the dialogue opposed the actions of the characters. For example, Ryan comes across as almost timid despite having joined a political movement.

    And to just repeat what everyone else has posted, that last line is great!

  8. I think that overall the dialogue is good. It has nice flow, and the shorter sentences really highlight both the seriousness of the situation while also lending more emphasis to the humor. That being said, it might be good to emphasize more of the tone of the speech, especially in those last few lines when Lance becomes even more sarcastic. Originally reading it, I was confused because it came across as more formal than the rest of the dialogue, and then I read it again and though, "Oh, he's probably being sarcastic." Try to adjust the tags where you can to make that more obvious, and I think you're golden.