Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Talking Heads #6

GENRE: Upmarket

Tanya has been ordered by her boss to write an article to attract investors to an underground arts community, and she’s discussing it with two of the community’s founders.

“You’re right,” I said. “You’ll read about it soon enough. You know the old cotton gin?”

“Yeah, down there on Indiana,” Rodney said. “What about it?”

“Cassia wants to turn it into an art studio with upstairs lofts.”

“That’s f****** cool,” Nick said. “How’s she going to do it?”

“She’s not. She wants me to write an article to gain interest from investors, and since Darren jacks off to her pictures, he’ll make me do anything she wants.”

Rodney looked off and hid his mouth behind his fist. While he sat there poised in thought, Nick lit up a joint.

“I told you, man. Not in here.” Rodney rose from his seat, pointing a finger at Nick.

Nick crushed the fire and then slipped the joint into his shirt pocket.

Rodney sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know. I mean it sounds like a good idea. Hell, I’d buy it if I could because I don’t want those investors coming in here messing with what we’ve built here. I get it. Artists need their space. You know I’ll do anything I can. But what if the wrong person sees your article? What then?”

“Didn’t you say that the people who need to read my articles will?” I asked.

“Yeah, but you know. Investors are already coming in and buying up these old buildings, turning them into expensive lofts and yuppie bars. They call this Deep Ellum, but it ain’t deep. This is Shallow Ellum. Once they turn this into a f*****’ carnival, the artists will leave, and then what? Once the fad’s over, the carnival will fold up. It’ll be a ghost town again, just like it was after the Jazz and Blues days.” He shook his head. “Man, it’s over. It’s Shallow Ellum.”

“Deep Ellum always comes back. It’s like a phoenix. It will rise from the ashes.” As Nick said this, he rose from his seat and waved his hands in the air.

“What are you two talking about?” I said. “This neighborhood’s not dead, and it’s not dying. Maybe Cassia’s right. Maybe we need that commune and studio.”

“I don’t know,” Rodney said. “I’m not a prophet, but I can tell you that if the bankers and investors buy up Shallow Ellum, it’s going to die. But go ahead and write that article. I don’t know. Maybe you’ll save it. Maybe you’ll kill it. Maybe nothing.”


  1. You did a good job conveying the two distinct personalities of the Nick and Rodney in the exchange. I was able to picture them in my mind as they were speaking.

    I feel like Rodney had a bit of a sermon there toward the end when he was talking about the investors destroying everything. It was a lot of dialogue at once. You might have been trying to convey his "sermonizing" nature though so it might be okay. Overall though I thought the dialogue did a good job revealing information about the characters.

  2. Good dialogue between the characters. You do a good job of establishing Tanya and Rodney’s attitudes. But we lose Nick a bit. I’m wondering how he feels. Which one does he side with? Or is he too much of a stoner to really care at all?

    I felt like Rodney overreacts a bit when Nick lights up. Unless it’s in his character to overreact, you might consider having him only point and not stand up.

    And when Nick waves his hands in the air, is he imitating a Phoenix? You might want to make that clearer.

    Assuming you’ve physically described these characters in previous scenes, I thought there was a good balance between description and dialogue.

    I’m interested to find out what happens to the neighborhood. Good job.

  3. I still love this part. You really bring out the personalities in this section. I think the tension is just right and while I agree that Rodney gets preachy at the end, I think it fits...that's how he is.

  4. The only thing I noticed, and this is because it was pointed out to me in my own writing, is that the characters are often doing more than one action or combination of them, which is fine sometimes, but maybe not every time. This one in read a little clunky:

    Rodney looked off and hid his mouth behind his fist. While he sat there poised in thought, Nick lit up a joint.

    Maybe just "Rodney hid his mouth behind his fist." Then "Nick lit..." Or you could lose the first line and say "While Rodney looked off in though, Nick lit up a joint."

    The next section Rodney rises from seat and points. After that Nick crushes fire and slips joint into pocket. All of this is fine but paying attention to how many actions are in one sentence and varying that will help the reading flow; some actions aren't needed, some could be just one quick line. Again, not anything wrong, but if you are reducing word count those are good places to trim.

    Good luck :)