Monday, January 28, 2013

Talkin' Heads #1

TITLE: Sins of the Father
GENRE: Contemporary YA

Fallon’s dad, a teacher at her school, was caught sleeping with a student. Someone stuffed a note in her backpack accusing him of rape. Fallon (Rocky) is being consoled by her best friend, Mazzy.

“Lean over, Rocky.”

“Do I need to ask?”

I shook my head and pulled the note from my back pack. She jerked it from my hand and tore into a string of curses as she paced in front of me.

“I know something happened, but I know it wasn’t this.”

“I thought I was going to be okay. They wanted me to transfer and I said no, but it’s only my second class and I don’t know if I can take this. What kind of crap is that? They used to love my dad. Yesterday! Yesterday they loved him. I got sick of hearing how freaking cool he was as a teacher and now I’m getting this.”

“Dude, breathe!” Mazzy shook me by the shoulders.

“I’m trying!”

“Try harder.” I nodded and she let go.

“What am I gonna do, Mazz?”

“You’re gonna walk back in there with your head up and if anyone talks s***, they’re gonna find out why we call you Rocky.” A couple potheads rounded the corner and she shouted, “Hey, Stoner, let me see your lighter.”

One of them narrowed his eyes but handed it over. She lit the tip of the note then handed back the lighter. She held the edge of the page until there was only a one inch strip with a crusted edge.

I couldn’t help but smile. “Mr. Dickhead Dickerson said he’ll expel me if I even breathe on anyone.”

“Hit ‘em hard enough and they won’t say a d*** word.”


  1. I like how the two character's personalities come across in the scene. However, I didn't get the first 3 dialogue lines. Maybe they make more sense with the beginning of the scene. I can't tell who says “Do I need to ask?”

    After “I thought I was going to be okay..." the dialogue flows really well and I can feel the conflict.

  2. Overall, I thought it worked. There were a few places where I wasn’t sure who was speaking.

    It seems Mazzy is speaking the first two lines? Not sure. But because there are two separate lines, it seems Rocky is saying the second line, which doesn't make sense coming from her.

    Then there’s a point where Mazzy says “Try harder.” Followed by "I tried harder . . ." That sentence should be a different parg, to avoid confusion.

  3. I agree with above comments about the confusing first two lines. After those lines, you get in more of a groove. Consider making one of the four names a more common name. All the nicknames including "Dickhead Dickerson" seem a little much. Rocky, Stoner, Dickhead, Mazzy... That said, I wanted to keep on reading.

  4. There's a debate in writing about how much attribution ("said") is the right amount. George V. Higgins uses none, Robert B. Parker attributes virtually every line (and has written about why he does this). I'm in Parker's camp. As awkward as it may feel to write, it's really unobtrusive to the reader - much less so than when the reader stops and puzzles, "Who just said that?" I think every three or four lines is a happy medium and keeps the reader in the game.

    That said, the scene flows until "Mr. Dickhead Dickerson," which doesn't sound like speech at all and stops me dead. He'd likely just say "Mr. Dickhead said...."

  5. I also got confused in those first two lines.I do feel after that, I can follow who's talking. I'm also not sure who Rocky means when she says "they wanted me to transfer..." not sure who "they" refers to. And I think she'd leave out the "Mr." in "Mr. Dickhead Dickerson." But I do like the back and forth and the way the personalities of the characters come through. Good work.

  6. It sounded natural and unforced. I also would have liked a bit more clarity at the beginning - perhaps with a she said or something to orient me to the speaker. I think Dickhead without the Mr. would be the better choice. But, no complaints or crits apart from those two small things.

  7. I also felt disoriented by the first two lines.

    I get a good sense of the characters and their personalities. During the 'I thought...' rant, you might break somewhere, like after 'my dad' or 'as a teacher' to give the reader an idea of Rocky's escalating emotion (i.e. she paces, faster and faster, or she pauses to catch a breath) and a reason for Mazzy to tell her to breathe.

    As far as the Mr. D-D, I think she'd leave off the Mr.

  8. The line: "I know something happened, but I know it wasn't this" to me illustrates my problems with the scene. It is unclear what they are talking about and in the entire excerpt they seem to talk "around" the issue without ever mentioning it. I think the entire scene would benefit from more directess in the words chosen within the dialogue.