Thursday, September 22, 2016

Talkin' Heads #27

TITLE: Prelude to a Shift
GENRE: YA paranormal

Fil's first lunch with a trio of people she just met at her new high school. She's just eaten some disgusting lasagne in the lunchroom and spit it into an empty milk carton.


Jess offers half a sandwich. “My dad made the bread. Peanut butter’s organic.”

            My teeth sink into whole wheat bread with different kinds of seeds in it, glued to ripe bananas by impossibly peanutty peanut butter. Lasagna fades from mouth-memory.

            Drex digs in her pack and donates a couple of squished miniature Milky Ways.

            Indy rips her cheese bread in two and hands me half. “Good thing we don’t all subsist on Milky Ways and Coke.”

            “At least I don’t chow down like a garbage truck.” Drex turns her shoulder to Indy and focuses on Jess. “So, we on for Friday?”

            “What do you think?”

            “I think you cancelled last week. And the week before.”

            “What can I say? I must suffer for my art.”

            Indy snorts but cuts it short when Drex glares at her.

Drex zeroes back in on Jess. “Look, smart ass, there are 24 hours in a day, and only one a week for that stupid paranormal show you hooked us on. You,” she pokes his chest, “better get your priorities in order. Us first. Art second.”

            “Oh, right. As ravishing as you two are,” he gives each a pained look, “I had a painting to finish. A pain-ting? Face facts. Art first. You guys second. And Paranormal Phenomenon a very, very close third.”

            Indy holds her tray up like a shield and beckons me closer. “Now the shit’s really going to hit the fan,” she says with satisfaction. “Just watch.”


  1. The language and antics are pitch-perfect. Suggestions: With so many potential speakers, I think you should tag more of the dialog to make it clear who is speaking. It took me a couple of read-throughs to realize that Fil is an onlooker and doesn't say anything (a mumbled thanks through a mouthful of gummy pb and b sandwich would be nice). You might want to suggest a bit of Fil's reaction to the conversation. It doesn't need to be extensive - e.g., just a querying eyebrow at the mention of the tv show would help remind the reader where the POV is.

  2. The part where you say- Drex turns her shoulder to Indy and focuses on Jess- has too many names in it so I am confused who's talking. I agree with the above commenter, more specific dialogue tags would clear this excerpt up.

  3. I agree that the dialog is great, but the characters confused me. I went back twice to figure out who is male and who is female and who is MC.

    I think it loses the MC POV a little since she is only mentioned in the lead up, pretty much.

    I think you have something good going on here, just a few improvements.

  4. I agree with the earlier comments that the dialogue is good, reveals personalities, but some tags would help orient the reader. Involving the MC, even quietly, would be good too. :-)

    One opportunity to bring out Indy's voice would be to think of a version of 'shit hit the fan' that only she would say.

  5. A conversation including so many people can be a real challenge. You handle it well although I agree that a few more dialogue tags would help keep the characters straight. (As writers, we're told not to use too many tags, but this is a situation where they're really useful.)

    The dialogue also works to give us a sense of the different personalities and their relationships and priorities, which is impressive for such a short excerpt.

    The only person we don't get a feel for is the MC, but that might just the the result of such a short sample from the middle of the story.

    Overall, well done.

  6. This is tough only because we don't know all the characters yet (like we would if we'd read all the stuff that came before). I like what's happening though It makes sense to me that the MC would hang back in a group she just met, so that works great!

    However, the first few lines felt stilted, almost like stage directions. Though I like this line "Lasagna fades from mouth-memory" it's awkward (to my ears). And there might be a missing words here "he gives each a pained look" Maybe not, but it made me stumble.

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