Monday, January 28, 2013

Talkin' Heads #42

TITLE: The Complete Guide to Being Evil
GENRE: Fantasy

Kalara answers the door with a cleaver in one hand due to it being the middle of the night, and she wasn't expecting company. It had slipped her mind that earlier that day, she'd called for a devil.

“What happened? Are you okay?” Kalara asked.

“Oh, I'm not here because of my leg. You called for a devil?”

She grabbed his shirt and yanked him inside, slamming the door shut. “Why would you say that out there? What do you think my neighbors would think of me?”

“Sorry. Didn't mean to let them know you were a mage.”

“What makes you think they would get 'mage' from that? They'd probably assume I asked for a stripper in a devil costume! Do you know how embarrassing that is?”


“You don't look like a devil. Why is your leg bleeding?”

“Could you, you know, put that...” He cleared his throat.

“Knife away. Speaking really isn't that hard.” She gestured with her free hand for him to follow her into the kitchen, where she slid the cleaver in its place. “My name is Kalara.”

“I'm Evander. I'm not really a devil yet. I'm a devil's son.” Kalara groaned. “I was just taking a test, judging my aptitude for devilry. My task was to sneak into an old man's apartment a few floors up from here and influence his dreams. His canine gave evidence he was superior at home protection as opposed to my sneaking prowess.”

Kalara couldn't help but laugh.


  1. I like most of this. I was a little thrown by Kalara finishing Evander's sentence, but I suppose it does show her impatience with him.

    I think the dialogue feels fairly natural until Evander's last line: "His canine gave evidence he was superior at home protection as opposed to my sneaking prowess.” This just sounds really clunky. Even if Evander is supposed to have a more stilted way of speaking (because he's a devil), this just doesn't sound quite right. Maybe something more like "His canine proved to be more profficient at home protection than I am at sneaking" or something like that.

    Otherwise this was pretty good. Good luck!

  2. I love the title, and I was instantly hooked.

    I have a few suggestions to tighten:
    “Why would you say that out there?" It might sound better to say "out loud" rather than "out there," since you follow up with the comment about the neighbors; it's that they would overhear.

    When the devil says "oh" maybe you could replace with a character reaction, a way to add in some wit or humor. Show the devil standing in a way, staring blankly, crickets chirping, etc.

    When she says "Knife away." I get what you are going for,but it might work better to say "Knife?" then show that action of her putting the cleaver away, and continuing on. I think it reads a little more smoothly that way.

  3. This dialogue is really intriguing. I like the idea of the clumsy "apprentice" devil, and I feel like, even in this short conversation, you give him a lot of character.

    I agree about that last sentence, with the canine, sounding awkward. Also, did the incident with the dog happen right before this scene? I assume so because of the blood, but it's confusing that he would take an aptitude test and then go straight to a real "client" without some sort of evaluation or feedback. You might want to make the timing a little more clear.

  4. I love the title! Also, I agree that there is a lot of character development in this short piece of dialogue. I definitely want to read more about Evander. I agree that the last line from Evander doesn't quite work.

    The other distraction for me was calling a cleaver a knife. I mean, I guess it is, but I don't think of a cleaver when someone says knife (personally). I would picture more like a butcher knife.

    Overall this is a fun piece of dialogue that works pretty well.

  5. There's not enough sensory detail here. Perhaps you can add the klunk of the knife sliding into place and his reaction to it, or have him mention the creaky steps that gave the dog its clue. Or mention her disappointment at the lack of the smell of sulfur.

  6. Love this title. Awesome and a little scary and also hilarious which is what you are going for, I hope :)

    I think the out there is fine -- she wants to have her conversation with him indoors, not where others will overhear it. I actually liked the image that pooped into my head of a very ordinary neighborhood but Kalara's home, inside, being about something quite extraordinary.

    Agree that cleaver/knife is confusing -- cleaver is the big rectangle thing... Also, was Evander cut but her? Or the dog? I couldn't quite figure out why he was bleeding.

    I thought the canine sentence was fine, esp for an early draft -- you might fiddle around the the phrasing later, but it shows Evander's awkwardness well.

    Love this illustration of K's impatience via a non sequitur:

    “You don't look like a devil. Why is your leg bleeding?”