Monday, January 28, 2013

Talkin' Heads #10

TITLE: Threeland
GENRE: Upper MG Adventure/Fantasy

Jonah is a cursling (a youth with a gift, different), exiled and presumed dead. Scouting for food, he's tripped up and pinned by someone's foot.

A nasal voice says, “Little cursling! You’re supposed to be dead.”

“Oh, I am. You’re just imagining this. So you might as well let me up.”

“What, and forego the bounty?”

“If I’m dead, they’re not offering a bounty.”

He thinks about it. “Okay, you’ve got me there. By My Sire’s fingernails, how are you, Jonah?”

The foot lifts. Slowly, I roll over until I’m looking into the narrow, olive-skinned face of Lennard Shepherd.


“I am.” His dark brown eyes bore in on me. “How…. Everyone thinks you’re dead. And they can’t even mourn you, cursling. Boryn would send them into the night after you.”

“Then maybe I should start a rescue service.” I sit up, trying to make sense of his meaning. “Are you going to let them know?”

“What’s it worth to you?”

“You can have half of what I own,” I say, smiling.

“What’s half of nothing? I must have missed that lesson. No, I won’t tell anyone. Not even your parents.” He shakes his head. “They’ve lost both their children. They’re… I think they’re dying, slowly.”

I grab Lennard’s hand. “Tell them…. I don’t know. Something. You had a dream that I’m okay. Something.” He looks skeptical. “Promise. Please…?”

Finally, he agrees. “Where are you living?” he asks.

“In The… the woods.” I don’t want to tell him, just in case all is not what it seems. “There are… ways.”

“You’re getting by? You look okay, actually. A bit thinner, but you were always scrawny.”

“Wiry, not scrawny.”

“Nah.” He laughs. “Scrawny.


  1. I found this excerpt very intriguing, and frustrating, since I'm so interested in where this is going. Your writing style is pacy and interesting.

    The only room I can see for improvement might not apply at all depending on what the reader knows at this point that I don't. Just in case, here are my thoughts:

    I didn't understand why Jonah wouldn't recognize Lennard's voice.

    I wasn't completely immersed in Jonah's POV in a few spots. I didn't know how he felt about being crushed to the ground (scared, annoyed, amused). Is he happy to see Lennard? Happy to see him but scared at being caught anyway? Scared to see him but happy to be caught...

    There's an action kinda showing Jonah's distress about his parents, but about something presumably close to his heart, I thought it needed a beat for some interiority when he gets the news.

    Didn't understand the "there are ways" line - he was asked where, not how.

  2. I wasn't sure if Jonah knew leonard personally, or if he was just someone he knew of. At first there seems to be a distance between them, as when Jonah says Lennard! and Lennard says I am, rather than 'It's me." Towards the end, it feels more like they knew each other personally. Perhaps make clear what the situation is.

    It also felt like you needed some form of recognition between Leonard's "You've got me there,' and 'By my sire's fingernails.'

    Jonah's voice also felt a bit on the feminine side to me.

  3. In this brief bit, you really set up the relationship well between Jonah and Lennerd.

    Too many "..."s They break the flow.

    Unless Lennerd has useful dreams, Jonah should say something else ("rumors some/one escaped"?)

    "[J]ust in case all is not what it seems" is actually pretty clear in this case, but still manages to sound vague.

  4. Their rapport is comfortable and endears them both to me as characters. My only real point of confusion was that at the beginning of the excerpt, it sounds like Jonah knows Lennard is the one who's holding him to the ground, because Jonah's conversation with him is so flippant and cool. So when he sees him and says, "Lennard!" the surprise I read into it took me out of the story.

    But then I got right back into the story, and am still curious about where it's been and where it's going.

  5. I found this portion of text confusing. I'm not sure what their relationship is because it's inconsistent. It appears they know each other fairly well ("you were always a bit scrawny"), but it's also a bit formal with Lennard's "I am" response.

    For a friend of the family (he's concerned about their health) it seems Lennard is awfully casual about Jonah being alive. If I discovered someone were alive that I had presumed dead I think I would have a more emotional reaction.

    I also didn't understand the "there are ... ways" line. And I'd avoid the "..." there anyway and not force the line to have a ... dramatic pause.

    As well, I believe a little more action/description of what this "scene" looks like would help to picture what's going on. Right now the dialogue seems a bit disembodied.

  6. I was a little confused as to why there wasn't more emotion at finding Jonah alive if they really are friends. Also, wouldn't he recognize his voice? I love the concept of the book.