Monday, January 28, 2013

Talkin' Heads #43

TITLE: Chestnut Maiden
GENRE: YA Fantasy Adventure

The hero, escorting a disguised princess, doubles back to make sure they weren't followed. He nearly stumbles upon a couple of villains hunched over a small campfire and eavesdrops.

“’Tis none of our business, lad. Just do as ye’re told and follow the donkey tracks.”

“A wild goose chase, it is. Nothin’ up here but scrawny sheep and scrawnier shepherds,” the younger man whined.

“Sheep’s what’s fillin’ your belly, so’s ye better shut yer gob.”

“Hey, I’m just sayin’. It’s stupid to waste ourselves up here. The other men who’s got the lowlands are the ones who’ll be getting’ the reward.”

“That ferryman thought our girl had come up here.”

“Aye, because she had fine boots and didn’t say nothin’? More like she didn’t notice his fine mustache. Soothes his pride to send us after her.”

“I’m gettin’ weary of your chat, Ricco. The master wants that girl.”

Scorch it. They were hunting for Anna. He’d known it, in his gut.

“… We keep goin’ ‘til we get to Montargento. We look high. We look low. We cross the mountain a dozen times if need be. If that girl is anywhere between here and the city, we bag her and deliver the wench. Ye want out? Leave right now. Go back, ye softy. Join those fat merchants and doughy lowlanders.”

“Hey, no need to wave that knife around. I’s just sayin’. No harm in talk, ye know.”

“I’m tired of hearing it. Zitto, else we’ll take your third and split it between the two of us.”

Third? Zino hadn’t heard a third man’s voice.


  1. Love the voices. Engaging without overdoing the dialect. Effectively conveys information without 'dumping.'

    Two comments - I got lost as to who was speaking. Perhaps more dialog tags? And the "Scorch it" comment feels like it should come sooner, maybe after "The ferryman" sentence.

    Overall, I like it!

  2. I really liked this piece. The dialect is easy o follow, but you might add a few descriptors to tag the two men. Something to help keep track of who is talking. I like the hero's thoughts interspersed with the dialogue and the cliffhanger at the end, too.

  3. I really liked this conversation. I assume it's mainly informational, and leading up to action, but you made it fun at the same time by giving the villains character and voice. I also like the pacing, it's quick and the scene isn't bogged down with description.

    I also feel like the hero's realization should have come earlier.
    The paragraph starting "We keep goin’ ‘til we get to Montargento" seems a little wordy to me.
    I really like the accent and verbiage you give the characters, I found myself creating a specific voice for them without any effort which is perfect! I did get a little held up with the "ye"s though, that didn't seem to flow quite right.

  4. I like this one a lot. The fact that the hero could double back and eavesdrop on the men makes me think he's a hero worth rooting for, the dialogue is well written and the realization by the hero that there's a third man involved was a very nice twist. I wanted to read more. Good job!

  5. Very fun dialog. Standout phrases include "shut yer gob" and "doughy lowlanders." But the phrase "just sayin'" is very contemporary. Unless you know of older books using that phrase, I'd take it out.

  6. I really liked this. The dialect works well for the most part and the pace is great. I loved the surprise -- the third man -- at the end of this conversation. I loved the contrast between the aggressive man and the timid one. You interwove exposition well via their arguments. I was so busy noticing how different they were and wondering if they were going to fight I didn't notice you were also telling me a bunch of scene-setting and plot stuff :)

    I did feel the way you wrote the dialect and the topography made me think we were supposed to be in (some sort of) Scotland, so the names Zitto and Zino threw me off.

    I was confused by the discussion about the ferryman. At first I thought one was saying the ferryman was mistaken, but then the comment about the mustache suggests the ferryman knows Anna is up here somewhere. I guess I'm not sure what the fine boots are supposed to connote.

    Does Anna say anything, or do Zino and Anna communicate without words at any point? Wasn't sure if escorting meant they were together right now.

  7. Thank you for all your comments! So very helpful.
    I know it can be confusing to be tossed into a scene 3/4 of the way through and be able to sort out what's going on. A few of the juxtapositions (Italian/Earthy English-Scots) may be confusing at this point without the background.

    I appreciate all you've shared.