Thursday, January 14, 2016

Talkin' Heads #29

TITLE: Hooked
GENRE: NA - Fairytale Retelling

Willow returns home from her first semester of college to find that things around her house have changed in her absence.


“I’m going to go upstairs to change,” I said as I grabbed my waterlogged suitcase.

Mom and Brad shared a look that didn’t escape my attention. “What?” I asked.

“Well, honey….” Mom’s voice trailed off and she looked to Brad for help.

“Willow, with you going off to college this year, your mom and I made some changes with the house.”

A rock of apprehension began forming in my stomach. “What kind of changes?” I asked, looking from Brad to Mom. Mom refused to meet my gaze. The rock in my stomach grew. “What kind of changes?” I repeated, looking back to Brad for an answer.

“We, uh, turned your bedroom into a home office,” Brad said, also averting his eyes from mine.

I tossed my suitcase back onto the floor. “So, where am I supposed to sleep then?” I folded my arms over my chest and glared at them.

“We set up an air mattress in the boys’ room,” Mom began, but I cut her off.

“You what? How in the hell am I supposed to get any privacy in there?”

“It’s just temporary, honey. You’re only home for a couple of months, and then you go back to school.”

“Right. Just a couple of months. Great.”

“I thought it would give you and your brothers a chance to catch up with each other. They miss you.”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” I rolled my eyes and snorted, “Whatever. I’m going to take a shower.”


  1. Excellent tension, though I'm not sure how believable it is that they wouldn't set up the air mattress in the office. She still would probably be upset with the lack of privacy and changes to her room in that case. The actual dialogue is authentic and well done, though I would delete "then" from "So, where am I supposed to sleep then?"

    I think some of the action beats and internalizations could be spiced up, like when Mom and Brad exchange a look, amplify it with a more interesting thought describing her impression of the glance (i.e. each obviously hoping to pass off a hot potato). The same could be done with the rock metaphor-I like it, but it seems overdone. What else could represent apprehension growing in her stomach? Nicely done.

  2. I agree with Melissa. Also for the first line, I wouldn't say 'to go' -- but maybe that's a regional thing.

    Love the parental tone, and Willow's curtness :)

  3. HA! This made me laugh. There's plenty of tension, and I'm curious about the waterlogged suitcase. However, I find it absolutely unbelievable that any parents would expect a home-from-college daughter to share a room with two boys for two months. Or that any home-from-college daughter would let it go with, "Whatever. I'm going to take a shower." (Maybe that's not the end of it--I realize this is a limited excerpt.) I'd like to read more. Good luck!

  4. Ouch for Willow! I remember the uncomfortable transition of being considered a "guest" in the house I'd grown up in, so I can definitely relate to the tension here. I don't get lost in any of the conversation or have trouble knowing who's speaking.

    "I'm going to go..." is a bit wordy. Consider striking "to go."

    I'm not sure you need the comma in, "So, where am I supposed to sleep then?" If you're looking for a pause, I'd try an ellipsis.

    "We set up an air mattress in the boys' room," Mom began, but I cut her off. <-- that sounds like a complete statement without an obvious cutoff. Maybe use an em-dash right after "boys'"?

    I like the anxiety-as-rock metaphor, but the actual description seems slightly off to me. "Rock of apprehension" leads me toward images like "Rock of Gibraltar" and "Rock of Ages." What if you went with a simile: "Apprehension formed like a rock in my stomach..."? Later, I don't think you need "in my stomach" again. We know where the rock is.

    But I do agree with Melissa. In any house I've visited (where the office was kept fairly tidy), that's where the air mattress went, rather than into someone else's room. Maybe you've got reasons they can't do that... but I'd probably mention them as the reason she has to share the boys' room rather than "we thought you'd like to catch up..." I'm not sure any mother would actually think that about this situation.

  5. First, LOVE the name Willow. Very fitting for a fairy tale retelling.

    I'd be pretty perturbed about not being told about this ahead of time. She's obviously not had the best journey home, so finding her room gone AND having to share "temporary" space with little bros would not be ideal.

    I agree with the others, cut words where possible. "To go" can be deleted. Adding "then" onto the end of the sentence might be a regional thing. I am guilty of this, so I had less of a problem with this than the others(, then).

    I like the "rock of apprehension" because the metaphor for the tension is fresh and not cliche. That said, rocks do not grow. Could you extend the metaphor and maybe say that the rock tumbled? This might be useful later on. Anybody remember those awesome rock tumbling machines as kids? They took these god-awful looking stones from our driveways and turned them into polished gems (or so we thought). Is this situation (sharing a room with lil' bros, acknowledging her parents' total lack of concern for her privacy, etc) going to give her an opportunity to polish and become something greater? LOVE extended metaphors.

    Good luck! Good job!

  6. I think the dialogue clearly indicates who is speaking, so well done. My feedback is more about the beats and tags.

    “Well, honey….” Mom’s voice trailed off. The ellipsis after "honey" shows us that her voice trailed off. It isn't necessary to tell us that.

    “We set up an air mattress in the boys’ room,” Mom began, but I cut her off. “You what? How in the hell am I supposed to get any privacy in there?”

    I think this could be more effective by again trimming the telling and just have the MC actually cut Mom off. Maybe start the paragragh with a beat to show Mom is the speaker.

    For example: Mom cleared her throat. “We set up an air mattress in the boys’ r--"
    “You what? How in the hell am I supposed to get any privacy in there?”

    I think if you tighten up these kinds of interactions throughout your dialogue you'll have a stronger story overall.