Thursday, January 14, 2016

Talkin' Heads #14

GENRE: YA - Fantasy

At her family’s Italian deli, Gemma is upset by a visit from a strange boy who disappears before she can find out what he wants. She joins her friend, Tess, in the kitchen where her father and long-time employee, Annalisa, are preparing food.

“Hey, Gemmie, tell Tess about that lady who came in the other night.” Dad’s elbow-deep in a big bowl of dough, making a batch of fresh bread for the dinner rush. “You know, the one with the straw hat and the purple hair. Tess, you’ll get a kick out of this.”

Annalisa is bent over the table beside Dad chopping vegetables for the antipasto salad. “Oh, jeez, leave the poor girl alone.  She doesn’t have time for a silly story.”

I force a smile.  “I’ll tell her later, Dad.  We have to go now.”

He peers at me.  “You okay?  You look tired.”

“I’m fine,” I say.   “You know me, any excuse to get out of work.”

 “What did that boy want?” Annalisa asks.

I shrug.  “He left before I could find out.  He was weird.”

That turns on Dad’s Concerned-Father radar. “Wait a second, what boy?”

“Kid in the front, asking for Gemma,” Annalisa says.

“He was nobody.  Probably some joker from school who knows my family owns this place.”  I turn away before Dad can grill me anymore, and sidle up to Tess who sits on a stool, eating something out of a bowl, sighing contentedly.  “Which one?”

“Lavender chocolate chip.  It’s so good.”  She licks the Easter egg-colored gelato off the spoon, cat-like.

I dip a finger into the bowl.  “I like it too.  Annalisa thinks it tastes like bath soap.”

“God made lavender to smell.  Not to eat,” Annalisa says, wrinkling her nose.


  1. I'm just a little lost here -- it might be because four characters are a lot to keep track of in dialogue (esp. when it's in the middle of a story). For example, I'm not sure what Gemma means when she says "any excuse to get out of work" because it doesn't seem like she's at work? Unless she works at the deli, but there isn't a mention of that.

  2. Nice scene. I'm not sure why Annalisa told the dad to leave Gemma alone. Unless she knows that Gemma is tired or was weirded out by the guy, it seems kind of harsh. I would expect people who know each other so well to talk as they work together.

    Annalisa asking about the boy felt out of the blue since Gemma's heading out the door and Annalisa just told the dad to stop making her tell stories.

    Instead of saying "which one" I would say "what flavor?" that way it is clear what Gemma is asking.

    I liked your last line!

  3. I thought your dialogue worked fine and didn't have any trouble following it with the tags provided, which all seemed appropriate.

    I did have some thoughts about the overall snippet, however. I'm not sure Annalisa would say the guy probably knew "ny family" owned the shop, since she was with family, or if she would simply say he knew "we" own the shop.

    Also, perhaps since she was in a hurry to leave, she might have made some excuse for leaving rather than say she was fine, especially since she remarked about 'anything to get out of work.'

    lavender gelato sounds interesting. good luck with this!

  4. I think this works pretty well- I wasn't lost at all on who is speaking (which is tough to achieve in such a small snippet). If you are looking for things to cut, I think you can chop "making a batch of fresh bread for the dinner rush." Only other thing I would recommend is not to have Tess eating "something," just say it's gelato. Also don't say "which one?" - that was the only thing that hitched me. Say "which one do you have?" or "what flavor's that?" Pantomime and try out several to see which feels more natural for the actions and the character, but sometimes you have to add just a couple words or a "that" to keep the reader from being confused.
    Good luck!