Wednesday, February 24, 2010

24 Talkin' Heads

TITLE: Not So Far From You
GENRE: Young Adult
EMOTION: Lighthearted and friendly

In the 1980's, college freshman, Hope and Lisette forge a friendship that is strong but fades over time. Together they have harbored secrets that their daughters, in the modern day, are able to uncover which brings everyone back together.

“I’ve seen Repo Man twenty seven times,” Whit said. “ Best quote EVER: ‘You don’t want to look in the trunk.’ ” Whit was passionate about few things: films, Peter Max, German music equipment, Queen, the Potomac River, and Hope. No one had quite figured out in what order. “Emilio Estevez was great in that movie and what a killer soundtrack! Holy shit. ‘Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole.’ ”

“Do you know what movie I love?” Hope asked. “Wuthering Heights with Lawrence Olivier: ‘Be with me always--take any form--drive me mad! Only DO not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I CANNOT live without my life! I CANNOT live without my soul!’ Heathcliff yearning for Catherine, Catherine yearning for Heathcliff…and all the horrible punishment of love. Oh and Merle Oberon! A creature of utter and irretrievable beauty. Brings me to absolute angst ridden tears just thinking about her and Cathy Linton.”

“I hated that movie AND the book” hissed Lisette, squishing up her teeny tiny nose. Lisette looked like a senator’s daughter with a rebellious edge – petite, naturally graceful with the calmest eyes – but her mouth could shock you. “All that brooding, wind blowing through the heather, and more damn wasteful brooding…just sleep together, if it works great, if it doesn’t, move along! Give me Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure anytime. No thinking required, an outrageous narrative arc, cute dimwitted boys that are easy on the eyes…oh yeah, I smell a hit.” Lisette could be a tough broad. “Keanu Reeves is a great piece of ass.” No sentiment, total analysis.

“Where the hell is Nadine? She can weigh in on this...” Lisette uncurled her body from the papasan chair, her dark wavy hair taking on an inquisitive life of its own as she moved. “Jesus! These chairs are impossible to get out of. They suck you in like a Venus fucking flytrap plant. To top it off, I feel like the god damned flag.”

“The flag?” asked Whit. “Um, I don’t see it.”

“Well, a more observant person would notice my BLUE skirt, WHITE top, and Evening’s Desire nail polish – voila, my concession to RED.”

Whit laughed, “Lee, you are weird. But a good weird.”


  1. I got lighthearted out of this, not so much the friendly part as the pov person is tossing out judgements left and right, but the quotes do showcase each character nicely and give them immediate personality. The last couple lines have a more friendly feel to them.

    Yes, those chairs are a pain to get out of. :)

  2. definitely lighthearted. Nice showing the characters personalities. It's random, feels just like girl's night out. :D Lots of noise and talk. I felt right at home.

    One thing I'd point out, is that they all sound alike. Same tones, same cadence. And they all swear exactly the same. The descriptions, there's a similarity in the wording as each describes a different movie.

    It's a fun read. I enjoyed it.

  3. This dialogue does a good job with characterization. The movies they like says a lot about them. Quoting Wuthering Heights is a bit much though. Then again, I'm with Lisette and hate that movie and book. :-)

    This is really hard to read. Essentially you have three monologues as if they are passing a talking stick around or something. I suggest more actions--perhaps Hope can place her hand over her heart or her hand against her forehead to emphasize the Heathcliff's angst...

    Authentic voice...right amount of cursing.

    Totally agree with the papasan chair. Who invented those things?

  4. The movies they like can be very telling, and showing readers this conversation can help flesh out the characters, but I don't feel like your story has moved forward during this scene. Dialogue, in my mind, should do both flesh out your characters and move your story forward. Another comment mentioned that it read like a talking stick was being passed around, and I agree. They may have different ideas, but I don't get a sense of real conflict, hidden meaning, or new realizations here to push your story forward.

  5. Engaging characters--I agree with the earlier post that having the characters describe the movies they love says something about them, but interweaving some action or describing them a bit more while they are talking. Is one of them more nervouse about saying what she thinks? Give them some variety. With that said, I like the description that you do give very much--I like the imagery. Although I'm not sure what era/age reader you are going for with "broad". Keep the language consistent for the era.

    I also was unclear about the relationships. We know who Hope and Lisette are, but are Whit and Nadine the daughters or other friends from college? If they are the daughters, then I don't see the mothers swearing like that in front of them or vice-versa. But I can see it if they are college friends. (And I say that as someone who was in college in the 80s who has a daughter who is heading off to college in the fall.)

    So, in your set-up at the top, adding in the names of the daughters would have helped me.

    If this scene is taking place in the 80s, keep in mind that Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure came out in 1989, so then the story doesn't really span the 80s.

    If the audience for the book is Young Adult, the challenge is to make 80s references that they can appreciate, but not to have them so stereotypically 80s as to be dull.

    Thanks for opportunity to read this. Good luck!

  6. I agree with what's been said. There's some good dialogue here, but there's too much of it. Every scene should drive the plot forward. Big blocks of dialogue slow the reader down.

    You only have so many words in which to hook a reader/agent/editor. Dole them out with a purpose.

    You might try cutting this scene down to meet the 250 word requirement. It's a good writing exercise. And I think you'll find you have a better scene over-all.