Thursday, September 8, 2011

Talking Heads: Beta Test #8

TITLE: Gypsy James is in a Jam
GENRE: Middle Grade Mystery

“Why would I be mad at you?” Pops asks.

“Well, you had to leave the marina today. And you had your teeth in.” I answer without looking up at him.

“Gypsy, I wore my teeth today because, I didn’t want to frighten those people. You know how scary it can be when someone comes chomping at you.” Pops says leans over, his toothless mouth pretending to bite me.

“Ew, I know!” I squeal and scramble across the seat.

Pops laughs. “You always did think that was funny.”

“Yeah, when I was three.”

Pops just shakes his head and pulls me back across the seat and snuggles me into his side. “For the record no, I am not mad at you. That is, unless you did steal that dog?” Pop says all serious like, but he sticks his elbow into my ribs.

“No! I wouldn’t take someone’s dog.”

“I know you wouldn’t. Especially that one, it’s a rat.”

To answer my surprised look at Pops making such a comment he shrugs and says” I saw the flyers.”

“Yeah, it sorta is, isn’t it?” I laugh.

“And what’s up with that sparkly thing on its head? Pops asks.

“I know! Stacy calls it a tiara.”

“Really? I call it pretty stupid.”

“For real.” I agree. And then we both sit there thinking about stupid missing rat dogs and tiaras.

13 comments:

TKAstle said...

I'm not sure if Pops is her dad or granddad. The teeth bit makes me think granddad, but lots of people call their dads 'pops.'

Also, from your title and genre you have posted, I presume that Gypsy is middle grade aged, but from this excerpt I didn't get a feel for that. She could have been much older. In which case, the teeth bit made me think Pops was grandparent age and she was his daughter, but then I remembered that Gypsy was the name of your MC so she probably was a child. Ack. Anyway, you get my confusion.

This may all be cleared up by reading more of your story (short entry crits can be a bit challenging for reader and author), but a character's age should be pretty apparent even with a very short sampling.

You do a good job of showing the nature of the relationship of these two. Nice work on that.

tarak said...

I got a great sense of the relationship between these two. I especially loved the lines about knowing Pops was annoyed because he had to leave the marina and put his teeth in.

I got a bit caught about three-fourths of the way through. From the line "To answer my surprised look..." onward. That sentence reads very awkward to me, and I had to read through twice to figure out what was going on.

I'm guessing that someone who's read through knows they are looking at posters of missing pets, but without something to indicate this, it was confusing. Maybe have Pops point to a particular drawing?

Otherwise, well done!

samsevern said...

WOW! I loved this, the characters hooked me IMMEDIATELY, the dialog was true-to-life and had a rhythm and a groove that felt deceptively easy (which writing for this age & audience definitely is NOT), and the storyline grabbed me....all in less than 250 words! AWESOME!!

Barbara said...

I liked this. I could feel the emotion between the two of them, and there's no doubt that they love and understand each other. You might cut "To answer my surprised look . . ." and just add "I saw the flyer" to the previous parg. The sentence is clunky and you don't really need it anyway.

Nicely done!

Escape Artist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Escape Artist said...

I assumed it was a grandpa. That's how it felt for mebut regardless there was a real moment in there where I really felt the two of them. I loved how he pulled her in, stuck his elbow into her rib. It was real nice.
Gotta fix this line...To answer my surprised look at Pops making such a comment he shrugs and says” I saw the flyers.” That was a 'what?' moment!
I really liked this.

David Barry DeLozier said...

Nice dialog, conveys a lot about their relationship. Agree with other comments on "To answer my surprised look," line. Also stumbled over "says leans" would lose the says; and the ? after you did steal that dog. I read this as a statement, not a question. Nice job.

kboatman said...

I like the scene, but I think the dialogue could use a little tightening. For example, you might think about deleting "That is" and leave it "Unless you did steal that dog."

Also, phrases like "to answer my surprised look" are unnecessary, since your dialogue so effectively conveys what's going on.

I didn't like the last part of the last line. I would've liked to leave it at "we both sit there." How would the protagonist know what Pops is thinking?

Heather said...

this is a cool story and i'm totally digging it. i like the grandparent relationship. realistic dialogue.

Anonymous said...

Entertaining characters.

I've added a few minor editing thoughts inside square brackets [...]

“Why would I be mad at you?” Pops asks.

“Well, you had to leave the marina today. [maybe MOVE the dialog tag here so that the reader knows who is speaking now, rather than at end of the 2 sentences?] I answer without looking up at him.] And you had your teeth in.” I answer without looking up at him.

“Gypsy, I wore my teeth today because, I didn’t want to frighten those people. You know how scary it can be when someone comes chomping at you.” Pops [says leans over, - maybe just 'Pops says'] ]his toothless mouth pretending to bite me.

“Ew, I know!” I squeal and scramble across the seat.

Pops laughs. “You always did think that was funny.”

“Yeah, when I was three.”

Pops just shakes his head and pulls me back across the seat and snuggles me into his side. “For the record no, I am not mad at you. That is, unless you did steal that dog?” Pop[ADD s To Pop + maybe use 'Pops sounds serious, but he sticks ...] says all serious like,] but he sticks his elbow into my ribs.

“No! I wouldn’t take someone’s dog.”

“I know you wouldn’t. Especially that one, it’s a rat.”

To answer my surprised look [maybe DELETE 'at Pops making such a comment' - phrase not really needed; obvious from the context] he shrugs and says [ADD , ] ” I saw the flyers.”

“Yeah, it sorta is, isn’t it?” I laugh.

“And what’s up with that sparkly thing on its head? [ADD " ]Pops asks.

“I know! Stacy calls it a tiara.”

“Really? I call it pretty stupid.” [Nice; gives the reader a solid sense of who this character is with only a few words]

“For real.” [maybe DELETE 'I agree'. the agreeing is implicit] And then we both sit there thinking about stupid missing rat dogs and tiaras.

Adam Heine said...

This didn't really work for me. Sorry. It started okay, but as it went on it felt to me like there wasn't any real tension or conflict behind their dialog (I don't mean like they're arguing or anything, but like the way it started, where the MC wanted to know something that Pops wasn't telling him straight).

In particular, although the last few lines show the relationship between the two characters, it felt like the exchange was going on too long with nothing happening.

Last thing, and I know it's dumb, but the punctuation errors stuck out at me. It felt like a lot to me.

But that's just my opinion. Judging from the rest of the comments, I'm in the minority, and that's okay :-)

Brenda Drake said...

It definitely is hard to get an understanding of what's going on with a tiny excerpt like this, but I feel it moved along nicely. I guess I didn't get the teeth part. I'm guessing he hates to wear his dentures and hates to leave the marina. I would definitely lose the "To answer my surprised ..." line and change the last line to just your narrator's thoughts. "I sit there beside Pop thinking about the stupid missing rat dogs and tiaras." Sort of like that. All in all, nice job! :D

Becca said...

I agree with most of the other commenters, so I won't belabor the points they've made. I just wanted to point out some quick errors:

Second paragraph: there should be a comma after "And you had your teeth in" instead of a period.

Third paragraph: there shouldn't be a comma after "because"; after "someone comes chomping at you" there should be a comma, not a period; and there should be an "and" between "Pops says" and "leans over".

Tenth paragraph: there should be a comma after "he shrugs and says"; and the quotation mark should be attached to "I" instead of "said" (which I know is probably just a typo).

Twelfth paragraph: another typo--you're missing a quotation mark at the end of Pop's sentence.

Last paragraph: again, you need a comma after "real" instead of a period.