Wednesday, February 24, 2010

1 Talkin' Heads



Demas, Will, Eyre, and Turne go to the circus to pry a secret from the Ringmaster.

“Hello,” Turne said, snapping to get the Ringmaster’s attention.

Ringmaster stopped his conversation with the green-painted drummer, and craned his neck to the side. He looked at Turne, Will, Demas, and Eyre through the corner of his eye.

“Get out of here, you filthy spies,” he said.

“I’m not after your carny secrets,” Turne said. “I’m after another type of secret.”

Ringmaster threw back his shoulders and tilted his chin. He still didn’t face them. “Secrets are only as good as those who keep them.”

“Never said a truer word," said Turne.

Circus people watched with interest; noises died down.

“Too many people are after secrets and treasures that are meant to stay secret and treasured.” Ringmaster looked at the tent while he spoke.

“I shall treasure this secret forever,” Turne said, stepping closer.

Ringermaster glanced at them sidelong. He checked them out, up and down. His eyes snapped back towards the wall. “What type of necklace does the Old One wear?”

Demas took out the key from under his tunic, displaying it on his palm.

“Many Keypers come,” Turne said, “and many Keypers go—”

“I only trust what they can show,” Ringmaster finished.

“Are you the son’s son of a prophet?” Turne asked.

“I claim that lineage,” Ringmaster said. “But it is your lineage that is on the line.”
“Would you trust us if we tamed your wildest beast, out shot your skilled marksman, and copy-catted the ancient symbol of passage?” Turne grinned.


  1. A couple things stuck out to me about the dialogue. First was that the word secret was used a bit much for my taste. Second, it felt like they were talking in code (ala "the red duck flies at midnight"). Part of that could be the whole dropped into the middle thing, but I'm not entirely sure.

    Assuming it was meant to be coded, I think it works to a degree, but I still stand by the first comment that the word secret is overused in the beginning.

  2. I was distracted by the dialogue tags. If only Turne and Ringmaster are speaking, we don't need every line tagged. The overuse of the word 'secret' and eye movements such as looking, glancing and eyes in this short span was also distracting.

    As far as what was being said, there did seem to be a lot of code talk, but I'm guessing that would make more sense in context. :)

  3. Looking strictly at the dialogue, this feels like a game of verbal chicken, where neither side is going to give in first.

    I do think the entire passage could use some polish for the reasons already cited. But in terms of what you're going for, you are on the right track.

  4. I like your concept of secret societies, passwords etc. And I think the last few lines of dialogue (starting many keypers come) do a pretty job of portraying your stated emotion.

    So, just tighten up the writing. Drop most of the dialogue tags. And try cutting or combine some of the exposition. If you don't need it, cut it.

  5. Too much about where the Ringmaster is looking. Once its established he's not looking at the newcomers, you don't need to mention it again until he changes his focus.

    The dialogue itself is good. The middle, with all the secrets and treasures does seem like it could be tightened. I get the message, but it feels like its drilled in.

    The last half of the dialogue does feel very formal, like a password or ritual. If that is the intent, you nailed it. Love the term Keypers, by the way. Very cool.

  6. This is fun. I like that they're dancing around each other and that Turne has to answer a coded question to ask a question of his own.

    I do think you're explaining too much and not trusting the reader to keep up with the characters (I tend to do this as well). Tone back the dialogue tags and repetitive words (secrets, treasures) and it will read much tighter and smoother.

  7. I thought the dialogue worked great. I definitely got a sense of mystery and intrigue and will you trust us/can I trust you, as I read.

    I do agree with everyone else about the tag lines and the ringmaster's motions. The dialogue would be sharper without those things cluttering the passage.

  8. Ooh, I like it. If I opened this book at a random page and read this section (as I do) I'd buy it.

  9. I have to admit, I got a little lost and confused. It was a little TOO secret for me.

    Mostly I thought the dialogue was great, but I felt like the Ringmaster trusted them a little too easily. By asking his question about what kind of necklace, he's giving away that he has what they're looking for. But maybe everyone knows he keeps a secret...?

    The voices definitely belonged to the characters, which is great, I just couldn't quite follow it.

  10. I liked it. But I would be carefully not to overuse the "secret" rhyming dialogue.

    Characters had their own personality, which is great!

    I think your emotion came through.

  11. I think being dropped into the middle of this story hurts it a bit. I get that the Ringmaster already knows these characters, but from this section, I can't tell if he straight out dislikes them or is just testing them.
    I did like the verbal dueling between Turne and the Ringmaster, and the coded messages are fun.
    I agree that there are too many tags here. And you could definitely use a proofreader on this. First you call the character "The Ringmaster", and then "Ringmaster" and then "Ringermaster." Any of those works, but pick one and stick to it.