Monday, August 20, 2018

Talkin' Heads #6

TITLE: The Bug Collector's Bucket List
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Cousins, K.J. and Becka, barely know each other thanks to a long-time disupte between their mothers. They're on a road trip, doing their late Grandpa's unfulfilled bucket list.

“So, uh . . . were you and your brother close?” K.J. asks.
   I freeze, goosebumps arising on my arms. It’s like she knew I’d been thinking about him. “Not especially,” I say because it’s the truth.
    “Oh. . .” Obviously my answer wasn’t what she was expecting.
    “But if you mean, do I miss him, the answer is yes. I do. He annoyed the crap out of me sometimes, but I loved him.” More than I ever let on.
    K.J. frowns. “I always wished I had a brother. I think we’d be close. You know, if I had one.”
    “Yeah, well if I’d known my brother was gonna die, I would have made an effort to get to know him better. But that’s the problem, you don’t know these things.” My stomach clenches with this admission, and I swallow back the lump trying to form in my throat. I should have been a better sister.
    K.J. nods thoughtfully. “True.” Another beat of silence. “So do you ever talk to your dad?” she asks.
    What is this? A game of twenty personal questions? “Not much,” I admit. “I see him a few times a year—usually around holidays and stuff.”
    “Does your mom talk to him?”
    I tolerate my father, but I still think he’s a gigantic jerk for what he did to my mom. It’s funny because Mom seems to blame her sister more than him for the affair. My dad and I just never bring the topic up. It would be way too awkward with him.



  1. Make sure you start a new line when you change characters. For example, KJ says, "Oh..." then you have Becka's interpretation of the Oh on the same line. It needs a new line so we know we're changing heads (so to speak).

    I would also suggest you kill the ly adverbs and reduce the number of physical reactions. This is a very short excerpt and she has goosebumps, a clenched stomach and a lump in her throat.

    Finally, using "my" in front of dad/mom/brother is telling. She would think of them as Mom, Dad or Ted (if that's her brother's would be weird to call him Ted if his name is Bob. I digress...).

    Good luck!

  2. This is a strong conversation that hits a lot of emotional points. Some of the physical descriptions were a little cliche, though (goosebumps, stomach clench, lump in the throat). Grief is a really tricky emotion to get right, but I would suggest tying every physical reaction to an emotional one. So, the goosebumps might be an early warning that unwelcome feelings are on their way. She might be swallowing the lump in her throat because she's desperate not to cry in front of her estranged cousin.