Monday, January 28, 2013

Talkin' Heads #23

TITLE: The Duel
GENRE: Historical Thriller / Romantic Suspense

1733. Cambridge, England. Our hero Tom (POV) has just had his headwound patched by his friend, Dr. Battie, after an unfortunate encounter with a young woman.

“What’s this?” Battie fingered the bullet hole’s singed threads. “I thought you said the lass beat you with a candlestick. Did she duel with you, too?”

God, how embarrassing. “Perchance I omitted that extremely humbling detail.”

“A duel, then–truly?”

His shoulders slumped. “No, no. But she did shoot at me.”

“The brazen chit!”

“I was an intruder, in her bed chamber. What would you have had her do?”

“Why, scream, of course, like any sensible woman. Bring on the servants. Call for the magistrate. Seek remonstrance, man.” Battie shook his head. “Resist you, of course. But I suppose I have underestimated your not inconsiderable charms. As do you, I might add. You are more like Alexander than you know.”

“For God’s sake, don’t wish that on me.”

“Then they must beget Amazons in Scotland, as my father always said.”

“She is not that. But she is mightily stubborn. She’ll never forgive me for filching her book.”

“Fie, you had to best her in some way.”

Tom thought on that a moment.

“Still, you might proffer some gift by way of apology.”

“You think she will want to hear my apology.”

“Do aspire to be polite, my lad. Such is the grease of the world. Her family could become your patrons yet.”

“You forget, they despise me.”

“…If you don’t find a way to do in their patriarch before they can aid your ambitions.”

“I tell you, I seek no advancement. Just due acknowledgement–”

“Achh! No more of that to me.”


  1. This was a fun passage. There aer some great word choices in there ("filch" for one).Nice work, and good pacing.

  2. Love this! It was super fun to read and has lots of "voice". Great job.

    I did have to re-read at this spot "“Fie, you had to best her in some way.”

    Tom thought on that a moment.

    “Still, you might proffer some gift by way of apology.”"

    Are both para's of dialogue Tom's with him pausing in between? If so, consider combining this all into one para. On first read, I thought it was a new speaker after Tom stops to think.

  3. This was a fun read. Obviously there's some backstory, so I fumbled a bit at the end with reference to the family hating him and him trying to get acknowledgement. But still was enjoyable. Love Scottish flavor in any novel.

  4. Nicely done. Great sense of each character's voice.

    I might take out the 'you said' for 'I thought the lass beat you...' and 'that extremely humbling' for 'Perchance I omitted that detail' and leave the extremely humbling for 'head talk' to even the flow.

    Keep it up.

  5. Very well-written for this era, and an intriguing premise. I did wonder if perhaps you're overdoing the historical lingo just a little - toning it down just a little might make it easier to read and more relatable. With that said, I really like it.

  6. There is a lot of humor in this passage, and I thought you did a good job in the final paragraphs of laying out some of the obstacles facing the hero without this becoming an info dump.

    Overall, the dialogue seemed believable for the 18th century, although as Dayspring said, you could probably tone it down a little without losing authenticity. The words "perchance" and "fie" particularly called attention to themselves.

    Do be careful, though, to make sure that your internal dialogue is as historically accurate as the spoken dialogue. No one in this time period would say or think "God, how embarrasing." People then were far more sensitive to taking the Lord's name in vain than we are now, and the word "embarrass" did not acquire its modern meaning of feeling shamed or humiliated until sometime in the 19th century. This is the biggest challenge with historical fiction!