Monday, August 20, 2018

Talkin' Heads #14

TITLE: Elvish Has Left the Building
GENRE: Adult Hard-boiled supernatural mystery

(no lead-in provided)

I stood when she walked into my office. Regardless of how I felt about Eleanor Steele, she was a lady.  I’m too much the Southern gentleman to disregard my upbringing.
   “What can I do for you, Mrs. Steele?” I managed to ask without snarling at her.
   “I’d like to hire you, Mr. Drago. Again.”
   We sat. “You have a tribe of government spooks, and I do mean spooks, already on the payroll. What do you need with me?”
   “We often use outside contractors. It helps us keep our hands clean.”
   “Aside from me and a few vampires, nobody has a clue the Supernatural Investigations Bureau even exists, much less has hands to worry about keeping clean. Not even whichever department it is that your funding is hidden in. Who is it this year? Agriculture?”
   “Housing and Urban Development,” she answered. “Would you be willing to come out to the house and discuss this opportunity with the Colonel?”
   I snortled. “At least this time you did ask beforehand.”
   “That was very considerate of us, I’m sure you’ll admit.”
   “If forced to, yes.” I checked my chin for stubble and decided I could go one more day before changing out my razor blades. “My rates have increased.”
   “That shouldn’t pose any impediments. Chances are good that we’ll be sub-contracting you out to a third party at some point.” She twitched a brief smile at me. “That will save the tax-payers some money.”
   “As if that was ever a consideration,” I said. “For you, anyhow. Don’t tell me you’ve misplaced that mummy I helped you reanimate last fall.”
   “As far as I know, Kha-Set-Mespha is safely hidden away, exactly where we put him.”


  1. Love the dialogue from Mrs. Steele...her stilted formality works. The line where Drago starts "Aside from me..." is a tongue twister and difficult to understand. Would you consider shortening, slangish? I'd also chuck the "answered" tag in the next line and add a coy action beat to convey her emotion. Good luck!

  2. This does move the story forward. The dialogue is consistent with the hard-boiled genre. The line that begins with "Not even whichever" sounds stilted. When Eleanor Steele says, "As far as I know," that has good ambiguity.

  3. What I like about this is that I sense a subtext in Mr. Drago (who I assume is a detective of sorts.) There are a couple of awkward sentences.
    "Not even whichever department it is that your funding is hidden in.", sounds very strange.
    'I checked my chin for stubble...' makes it seem like he decided to pull out a mirror all of a sudden. I think if he just rubbed his chin or something, the reader will understand the second part.
    and with “I’d like to hire you, Mr. Drago. Again.” I would emphasize Again, either separate it with an em dash, an ellipse, or italics. Otherwise, I think the dialog carried the story along quite nicely.

  4. I think this could use a little more internal thought from Drago. What is he thinking about her questions and answers? He shouldn't be able to have this long a conversation without thinking at all.

    Aside from that, I'd suggest you vary your paragraph beginnings a little. Almost all (10/13) start with dialogue. Try to use more action and thought so it's not just a tennis match of words.

    Good luck!

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