Thursday, January 14, 2016

Talkin' Heads #3

TITLE: Divided

17-year-old Fiona has known Elam for a few months, and they're finally having their first date at a restaurant, where he announces that he's leaving town.  

Elam’s sharply angled bangs hid his left eye.  He tossed the hair back so she could see his face clearly before the heavily dyed hair fell forward again.  “I wasn’t sure if it would matter or not.”

Fiona frowned.  “If what would matter?”

“Me.  Leaving.  I mean, we spend a lot of time together online and in the bookstore, but I didn’t know if you…if we…” He sighed.

Fiona’s frozen innards melted into an ecstatic, quivering pool.  “If we…?”

“Could be something.  You and me.”  Elam looked relieved now that the words were out.  “I’ve got to get out of here for a while, Fiona.  Things are just…messed up.  Family stuff, and me, and…I didn’t know if you’d want to wait around for me.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”  Fiona couldn’t muster more than a hoarse whisper.  She cleared her throat.  “I mean, I have that chance for an internship with a literary agency in New York, but that’s not until September, and...”

His hand slipped quietly over hers, cupping it like a turtle shell and sending sparks all the way up her arm.  “Think about it, okay?  Maybe we can have lunch tomorrow.”

Fiona’s world shrank to the warmth of Elam’s skin on hers.  “Sure.  Okay.”

“I should’ve told you sooner.”  He stroked the side of her hand with his thumb.  “I wouldn’t have left without saying something.”

“I know.”  His touch left her breathless.


  1. Your dialogue sounds very natural and flows well. Nice job! The thing that stuck out to me most in a negative way was not dialogue actually; it was the line about frozen innards turning into an ecstatic, quivery pool. LOL. I'm not feeling that description. It's definitely unique but in a way where it is distracting. It's also kind of gross, at a time when the focus is on a budding romance. I get that she's nervous and I like that you're describing it but I recommend going with something else there.

    Sometimes you need a bit more to explain character's thought processes. For example, Elam goes from saying he has to leave to he didn't know if she would wait for him. But he never said he was planning to come back nor did he ask her to wait for him so it felt a little jumpy. The same sort of situation applies to when he interrupts her and says "think about it." What is it, exactly? For them to be more than friends? He doesn't specify.

  2. I enjoyed this line: Fiona’s world shrank to the warmth of Elam’s skin on hers.

    I would watch for the elipses. They are find for a draft, but you want to use that punctuation when the pause is necessary and worth focusing on. In the same way that truly natural speaking is full of Um er but uhhh and we don't want to read that in fiction unless it's there for impact. Maybe see if a few ... can be removed or replaced with another way to show hesitation, with a physical act or for POV character an internal thought.

  3. Great scene. I can totally picture it.

    Love the way you play with pauses and interrupts and alter sentences lengths into little bursts of words and rushed phrases.

    Possibly the 'if you…if we…' might work better with emdashes -- more like he interrupts himself than hesitates.
    Plus, you do have a lot of those little dots :)

    'Fiona’s frozen innards melted into an ecstatic, quivering pool' is a little purple, but that didn't bother me. It's hard to comment on description without seeing the larger context.

  4. I really can picture this scene between these two people. The first few sentences had three adverbs in there and none of them are necessary.

    Elam’s angled bangs hid his left eye. He tossed the hair back so she could see his face before the hair, dyed a dark black, fell forward again.

    If you take them out and add the color of his hair, we'll get a fuller picture of him.