Thursday, March 9, 2017

Talkin' Heads (SSF) #2

TITLE: The Edge

MG- Sci Fi. Felix, our lead, is about to get into a capsule to go to space.  The last occupant of the capsule was a goat, and it was sent by a different group. Holly and John are his best buddies, Tercelle is a reluctant member of the team.

Felix stared. They hadn’t been airmailing elephants, but it must have been a small goat. “That’s it?”
“Yes,” Tercelle and John said in unison.

John smiled at Felix. “It can withstand the atmospheric pressure and you’ll have twelve minutes of air. Given what we have learned from the last sample–”

“–which blew up–” Tercelle barked out as he smiled at Felix.

“You’ll be fine.” John scowled at Tercelle. “And Holly upgraded a communication device for the trip.”

“What’s the upgrade?”

“Both ends send now. Two-way communications.” Holly handed Felix a simple phone device.

“They didn’t expect the goat to type?”

“Nope. And I added an electronic tag so we can trace you.”

“Like my mom?”

She smiled. “Yep.”

This mission was uncertain. Would he make it? Would he return? Felix scowled at the capsule. For certain, the process of being loaded into the capsule would be crushing.

“If potato killer is scared, I can go,” Tercelle said.

“How long would it take to make a larger capsule?” Felix asked.

Holly said in a cold Tang-like tone. “Six months–at least.”

 “This is your ride Spud Boy,” Tercelle slapped the capsule, “unless, I go instead.”

Felix sighed, “No Tercelle, I’m going.”

John bumped his elbow. “There’re a couple of other things I need to fill you in on,” he said.

“And remember we are on the clock,” Holly said. She moved to the new command center behind a glass wall.


  1. You've done a good job establishing everyone's mood here -- Felix is terrified, Holly is all business, John is reassuring and Tercelle is envious. It's not too jargony to be understood out of context, but still clearly science fiction.

    The one thing I might work on is some of the descriptions in between lines of dialogue. You mention someone smiling three times, twice in two consecutive paragraphs. I also have trouble imagining "barked out" being accompanied by anything like a smile. Maybe shake up the descriptions a little bit -- rather than just referencing a smile, mention the details of their facial expressions. "Her lips curved up" or something like that. Try to paint a picture so we can visualize how the speakers are relating to each other.

    Good luck!

  2. I was a little confused in the beginning. I had to read it twice to understand that the reason Felix is staring at the capsule is because it's tiny. There's the small goat line but it wasn't enough to clue me in until I got further into the exchange.

    Also, though, this could be due to the fact that we're in the middle of the scene. There could totally be some clue in to this a few lines before and if that's the case, ignore this.

    I'm not sure Felix's rapid responses to Holly and John work for me. I'm not fully sure what Felix is feeling. I suspect he's anxious, but it's fully clear to me, at least not until he sighs toward the very end. A beat or two grounding us in his body might help, or even in his thoughts.

    I'm also not sure of their age, but Holly and John seemed older to me. It was hard to imaging 12 yos saying things like "remember we are on the clock," but, again, this is just a small sample, too, so it may be fine.

  3. The dialogue itself isn't too far off, but I'm having a hard time placing the scene in my head which is likely due to the small sample. There were a few lines that jarred for me. For instance, I can't reconcile 'a cold Tang-like tone'. Also, John 'bumps' Felix's elbow, but 'bump' to me says unintentional which doesn't fit the rest of the line. Maybe 'jars his elbow' or even 'grasps his elbow', which would show a more intentional motivation that would match the actual dialogue.

    Thanks for posting!

  4. The dialogue 'feels' middle-grade, in that they banter back and forth like kids do. It might just be the excerpt, but I thought the voices felt body-less; a few lines to ground us would be great (big space? small? echoing voices? shivers because it's cold? outside in the hot sun? underground?)

  5. I thought the dialogue worked pretty well. I'm assuming, had I read from the beginning, I'd know where and when they are. The bigger issue for me was suspension of disbelief. I can't imagine anyone sending a goat into space. They seem too rambunctious. And I was assuming all your characters were mg kids, and wondered how they're managing all this. Of course, that could all be explained previous to this.

    I didn't get what 'cold, Tang-like' meant. And I did think people smiled and frowned too often. But the dialogue did make evident what was happening and gave us glimpses of individual personalities.

    From the little I've seen, I'd say it probably works but could use some polish.