Thursday, January 14, 2016

Talkin' Heads #20

TITLE: The Relic Heir
GENRE: MG - Fantasy adventure

Four 8th graders are on a flight to Europe to find the lair of Baba Yaga. Kyle, the MC, has been staring at Grace and just got caught.

My ears burst into flame. “You’ve got to stop doing that."

“Doing what?”

The burning sensation shot to my chest. “Nothing.”

She smiled. “You’re the one who was staring.”

“I wasn’t staring. I was just . . .”


What was I supposed to say? Just downloading a mental screen saver? Just giving my heart a good workout? Both were true, but I couldn’t tell her that.

“I was just wondering what convinced you to let me drag you into this disaster.”

The green and gold waves in her eyes stirred. “A few things,” she finally said. “Your memorable introduction at the library, for starters.”

I groaned. “Don’t remind me.”

“Hey, it caught my attention. And when you called me up out of the blue to talk about something as ridiculous as a horseshoe with unique abilities? I was intrigued. But I wouldn’t recommend that as a future pickup line.”

Grace faced the window again. “I didn’t know what to think of you at first, but I had a feeling you were okay. And," she raised her voice and peered across the aisle, “I didn’t like how a couple of bullies were picking on you.”

Lud didn’t hear her. She was busy elbowing Tony in the stomach, but she might as well have hit me.
Grace felt sorry for me.

“I was wrong to help you at the library, though,” she said. “I should have just watched and become a fan.”

“Who isn’t a fan of magical metal,” I muttered.

“I’m not!” She reacted like I’d just offered her a cockroach candy bar. "I was talking about you."


  1. I think the one thing this scene needs is more dialogue tags. With the exception of the first few lines after the introduction, I had trouble following who was saying what. There needs to be more clarity of who the speaker is.

  2. I thought this was really interesting, but I'm not sure how realistic some parts were if this is middle grade -- I can't imagine eighth graders saying something like "I was intrigued" in conversation, for example.

  3. I agree a magical horseshoe can be quite intriguing, but I really don't see many 8th graders speaking in this fashion. I was very confused a lot of the time as to who was speaking without the tags. Perhaps the entire scene is set up well enough that you don't need them, but for this excerpt it would have helped me.

    One thing I know about most 8th graders is that they want to always appear cool, so admitting to being intrigued, or even highly interested, doesn't happen too often, unless they are quite close friends and can be totally honest with one another. Or, perhaps she is purposely teasing him because she picks up on the fact that he is attracted, and simply trying to make him more uncomfortable and show off her maturity.

    Overall, though, interesting.

  4. I agree, I couldn't tell who was speaking without dialog tags. I know we hear all the time, cut the dialog tags, but not to the point that you sacrifice clarity. ;) The scene is cute, but the dialog overall doesn't sound middle grade for a number of reasons (mature word choices, the idea that kids this young would speak so candidly to each other about stuff like this). So the dialog is just not working as MG, IMO. Let the reader "read between the lines" a little more, rather than have your characters reveal everything on their minds. Let the unspoken dialog come through. All the internal thoughts from your MC are great though, and sound age appropriate. Good luck!