Thursday, March 9, 2017

Talkin' Heads (SFF) #8


Quinn's sister, diagnosed with a fatal illness, has been scheduled for voluntary termination.  Quinn wants to convince her best friend Troy that there might be a way to save her.

I sit, avoiding his eyes.  It’s never been this hard to say something to Troy.  He usually knows what I’m going to say before I even begin.
But not this time.
“I want to sneak past the shooters and go outside the territory,” I say.
Troy’s face is slack, like I’ve slapped him.  “What?”
“Great-Daddy believed in the Earthies,” I say.  “He told me they could help Beverly.”
“That’s crazy.”
“I thought so, too.  But I’ve been thinking about it.  And I want to go and see for myself.”
 Troy has never looked this incredulous.  “Quinn, what are you talking about?  One hour outside and you’ll be so toxic they’ll have to quarantine and detox you.  Four hours and you’re dead!”
“That’s never been proven.” 
He sighs.  “I know you just lost Great-Daddy and I know you’re upset about Beverly’s termination.  But you can’t go running outside the borders just to prove your great-grandfather was right about something.”
“But if he was right, then there’s hope for Beverly.”
Troy looks worried—probably for my sanity.  “Earthies are a myth.”
“My Great-Daddy lived thirty years longer than he should have,” I say.  “And he said something about my Grandaddy knowing about the Earthies, too.”
“Your Grandaddy the shooter?”
I cringe.  “Yeah.”
“So you want to break health law and go outside the borders to look for Earthies because a shooter and an old, dying man said they existed?”
“I can’t sit around and let Beverly die.”


  1. I think this works really well. I barely know what's going on but I kept up and would have kept reading. The dialogue feels natural to me, and believable.

    The only thing I'd suggest is watching out for the word "say" Because "I say" is your most common dialogue tag, it gets really repetitive when you use it outside of the dialogue tag. EG, in your opening paragraph you use it twice:

    I sit, avoiding his eyes. It’s never been this hard to say something to Troy. He usually knows what I’m going to say before I even begin.

    Then followed by dialogue with "I say" tags.

  2. I think the dialogue in this excerpt flows naturally.
    I don't have a problem with figuring out who says what.
    You could perhaps try to work in a few more action beats, because there are really few. But I don't think it is strictly necessary. The lack of it doesn't bother me.
    Troy seems a little cold in reference to Quinn's sister - if I understand the concept of termination. Other than that, I think this is great.

  3. I think you did a great job with this. The dialogue flows smoothly and it was easy to keep track of who's saying what.

    The only problem I had was this: Troy looks worried—probably for my sanity. “Earthies are a myth.” This didn't make sense to me. Troy looking worried has no apparent correlation to Quinn's sanity, so it threw me off.

    Other than that, the rest is great. Good luck!

  4. The dialogue seems very natural. The repetitive use of say did break me out of the reading though.
    Maybe try using action instead of "say" to denote speakers. Also helps add movement to a scene.

    Good job in creating that "Other World" feel in a very short piece. It left me wanting to read more so I can find out what happens.

  5. Great job! It flows well and provides the exposition organically. One thing I might suggest -- your first description of Troy's face is great ("like I've slapped him") but the later two are flatter, just saying he looks incredulous or looks worried. If you're looking to show rather than tell, you could be more visually specific about the way his changing expressions look and let the reader intuit his feelings.

    Good luck!

  6. Kudos for pulling off first person, present tense really well. That is difficult to do and what leads to many of the comments about the over use of 'say'. Writing in that voice almost mandates the old standby of 'show don't tell'. But it also allows you to get away with a lot of dialogue without tags for your main protagonist as you are in her head "in the moment" so the dialog pieces will flow naturally without the tags. Tough to do, but you are well on the way. Nice job.