Thursday, September 22, 2016

Talkin' Heads #4

TITLE: Unforgettable
GENRE: Adult Womens Fiction

From chapter one: Grace’s mother just passed away and Grace is talking to her mail carrier, who’s also an old friend from high school.

I flick my hand in a casual wave. “Isn't it kind of early for the mail? I didn't expect you until noon.”

“I had a special delivery for your new neighbor.” Andy holds up a handful of mail. “And this is for you. I'm killing two birds with one stone.”

“Neighbor?” I glance around as if expecting to see a stranger standing on the empty beach. “Where?”

He juts his stubbled chin toward a low hill that hides the old Milborne place. That house has stood empty for as long as I can remember. “She said she arrived early this morning. Drove all the way from…” He blinked behind coke-bottle lenses. “I don’t remember.”

Occasional short-term memory loss is another handicap he acquired after his accident. “That’s okay, Andy. It’s none of my business anyway.” But I'm curious about this new neighbor. I hope she doesn't have kids. Or dogs.

He flashes a sheepish smile that vanishes when he ducks his head to peer down at his feet. “I just heard about your mom. I’m real sorry for your loss, Gracie.”

I want to say my mother’s death isn’t a loss, that it's a blessing for her as well as for me, but I keep it to myself. His kind words mean something to him and it would be rude to take that away. “Thank you.”


  1. The dialog is confident and natural. I admire how you work in extra detail without a big expenditure of words: the beach setting, the remoteness and the mail carrier's disability add texture to the scene without burdening the reader. As for suggestions, I didn't need the next-to-last sentence ("His kind words..."). It could be removed without compromising the meaning of the paragraph.

  2. Dialogue sounds natural. Nice details ("juts his stubbled chin" "blinked behind coke-bottle glasses" -- picturing Don Knotts.)
    Re: "Occasional short-term memory loss is another handicap he acquired after his accident." I assume elsewhere, we learn bout the other handicap, but is this detail important to the story? In the mailman important? If not, then this might be extraneous. All in all, a nice passage. :)

  3. You know... I don't see much I'd change. The dialog feels natural and we're getting story without exposition. The setting comes through pretty seamlessly.

    If I had to pick something, I'd say maybe move "Andy holds up a handful of mail" after "And this is for you." On first read, I thought the mail was the special delivery for the neighbor and I was still expecting him to give Gracie something...

    Interesting switcheroo on expectations at the end. I wasn't expecting her to be relieved by her mother's death, so that makes me want to read more about their relationship or the circumstances. I like her, though, for not trying to force that reality on Andy.

  4. Forever in Blue JeansSeptember 22, 2016 at 2:36 PM

    This is a beautiful excerpt. No words were wasted. I love the lines "He blinked behind coke-bottle lenses," and "I hope she doesn't have kids. Or dogs." The former is a great way to show he's wearing glasses--as well as what kind--without telling the reader, and the second is rich with innuendo and makes the reader wonder why. :) Nice job.

  5. Excellent dialog. Nothing I can suggest to improve it, so I'll pick on something else. In the sentence "That house has stood empty for as long as I can remember." you can leave out the "for" if that feels natural.

  6. The dialogue itself works nicely. It sounds natural, and says what the character means. You get across her situation and the mailman's, and raise curiosity with the neighbor. A couple of nits.

    Parg 3 move "andy holds up a handful of mail,' after "And this is for you." I thought he was holding up the neighbor's special delivery.

    Maybe start a new parg after "That house has been empty for as long as I can remember." SInce it's her thought, I assumed the following sentence was said by her, rather than the mailman.

    Occasional short term memory loss . . . This is you telling the reader. Perhaps rephrase so it comes across as her thought about him, rather than her explanation to us. Same with "But I'm curious about this new neighbor." Again, she's telling us. Perhaps instead, have her wonder who it could be, or when she moved in - something that shows her curiosity.

  7. Actually I like the part about the kind words. It shows empathy in our MC.

    Nice job - I would read this.

  8. This is done very nicely. I love how the setting is mentioned naturally too! I like that she wasn't terribly upset at having a new neighbor, she just wants to know they won't be a nuisance with those kid things or dogs! :)

  9. I agree with S.D. King. I really like the line about the kind words. You could take it out, but including it changes her motivation about being quiet. If it was just the first line, I would assume she just didn't want to talk about her mother's death. But the real reason is that she appreciate's Andy's gesture and doesn't want to make him feel bad.

  10. This is so fluent and natural. And even this brief snippet reveals a lot about your characters and setting. I agree that moving the "handful of mail" line would make it a little clearer whose mail it is. But there are some very nice nuances here. Well done.

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