Wednesday, February 24, 2010

3 Talkin' Heads

TITLE: Ink Wash
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy
EMOTION: Teenage Indifference

Intro: After her mother's death, 17-year-old Katie (main character) moves to Japan to live with her Aunt Diane. Katie and the school's arrogant (and gorgeous) kendo star grate on each other's nerves, so she decides to join the kendo team to try and take him down a notch.

“I joined the kendo club at school,” I said to Diane over dinner. She went bug-eyed and just about dropped the shrimp straddled between her chopsticks.

“You what?”

“I joined the kendo club.”

“I thought you hated contact sports.”

I shoved in a forkful of salad. “I do.”

“Kendo does not translate to ‘ballet,’ Katie.”

I rolled my eyes. “I know. I sat in on a practice today.”

“It’s dangerous. You could get hurt doing kendo,” Diane said, but I shrugged.

“You could get hurt crossing the street.”

“Katie, I’m serious. Are you really sure you want to do kendo? Did the teacher talk you into it?”

“No, I want to do it.” I poured my cup of green tea over my rice and mashed it in.

Diane sighed. “I don’t know about this. What would your Mom say if I let you try it? And don’t pour your tea in your rice, Katie, you’ll ruin it.”

“It tastes better this way. Tanaka told me,” I said. “And don’t worry. Mom would say, ‘Good for you, Katie! Japan needs more girls taking kendo!’” I rose to my feet and started clearing up my empty dishes. Diane stared down at her pile of shrimp tails and I knew I’d won when her shoulders sagged.

“All right,” she said eventually. “It’s ok with me, but take it slowly and be careful. If you get hurt, I’m pulling you out.”

“Diane, come on,” I said. “What’s a contact sport without contact?”


  1. Awesome! I loved this. It was so smooth and I think you were fantastic at describing teen indifference. Way to go!
    The only thing I think could make it stronger would be to change:
    I SHRUGGED to right before her dialogue:
    "It's dangerous. You could get hurt doing kendo," Diane said.
    I shrugged. "You could get hurt crossing the street."

  2. I think you captured the indifference pretty well in here. I'm not sure if I can tell you how to improve on that.

    One thing I will say is that, without knowing much about Katie, the argument seems to go on too long. I have teenage nieces, and if their parents died, it wouldn't surprise me if they needed an aggressive outlet.A Also, I probably wouldn't argue against it much because there are so many worse ways for her to deal.

    Anyway, not a huge thing there, but I did find myself rolling my eyes at the aunt.

  3. Love this girl. I think you've done a great job with the dialogue but I also think her physical actions here are really good:
    "shoved in a forkful of salad" and I really like that she pours her green tea over her rice. This is a great almost argument over dinner.

    The only thing that caught me is that I've seen editors and agent say they don't like eye rolling or shrugging. I think it works they way you've used it but you do have them coming back to back.

  4. This sounds natural to me and the teen voice comes out pretty clearly. My only suggestion would be to move the shrugging down before her dialogue instead of including it in the previous line.

  5. I like this and the dialogue is great. While I see plenty of indifference, I also spot a little defiance on Katie's part that should make for an interesting story.

  6. The emotion is good-- but the repetition of kendo throughout the argument is a little bit awkward, and I agree that the discussion maybe goes on a bit long. But! If you cut out some of the redundant Kendos, it might not feel as long.

    And I love what she thinks her mom would say :)

  7. Yes. I can see the indifference here, and Katie's dialogue is really good for a teenager.

    Nice job!

  8. I can certainly see her indifference, but if her mother died not too long ago, I would think she would not have been able to hold an argument for that long. There maybe should have been at least a brief pause after her aunt poses the question, "What would your mom say if I let you try it?" Other than that, I can't really see anything wrong with this. The dialogue was well-written. (:

  9. Katie's dialogue worked well, and the indifference comes through. Her aunt seemed a bit overly cautious, and if that's how you want to portray her, her dialogue worked too. But she did seem a bit unreal and more 'written for the part.'

  10. Yes, I agree, good job. Katie feels very teen-like and I think you nailed the indifference just like you wanted to. I do have to agree with the previous posters, though, that there would probably be a bit of a pause when the aunt asks how her mother would feel. If the parents death was a recent thing, IMO, Katie would probably pause or react in some way to her aunt bringing up the mother. If only to roll her eyes at the aunt playing the "dead mother card" in order to talk her out of doing something she doesn't agree with. Great job overall, though.

  11. This is great!

    My only problem with it is, I think you can shorten a few dialogue sentences with the word, "kendo".


    “It’s dangerous. You could get hurt doing kendo,"

    Change to:

    "It's dangerous. You could get hurt."

    ~Sweet and simple, and the reader still knows the speaker is talking about Kendo without an unnecessary reminder.

    Good job on the emotion!