Monday, January 28, 2013

Talkin' Heads #26

TITLE: L is Lost
GENRE: YA Romance

The teenage narrator, L, has spent the afternoon planting a rose bush at her grandfather's grave with her mother and grandmother (Pi). Her grandmother has pulled her aside for a little heart to heart.

Pi sits next to me and rubs her swollen knuckles. “Sarah was a beautiful, bride, don’t you think? Reminded me so much of Rosemary.”

“Uncle Bobby said the same thing.”

“Yes, I expect he did.”

Hasn’t Mom finished loading the car? No. She’s talking to another visitor. She can’t go anywhere without bumping into someone she knows.

“There’s that look again.” Pi reaches to tuck a stray hair behind my ear.

I turn toward her. “What look?”

“I watched you yesterday, one solitary rain cloud during the ceremony. When you weren’t making faces at Sam, that is.”


“Don’t be. It was a pleasant change from the sadness that lurks about you.”

My heart had nearly made it back to my chest from my stomach. “Pi, I don–”

“It wasn’t your fault, L.”

How many times have I heard that phrase over the last two months?

“And yes, I know that doesn’t bring him back.” Pi rarely beats around the bush. “L, dear, look at me.”

I can’t move.

She reaches for my chin and gently turns my head. Tears threaten as she releases my face and squeezes my hand. I have a death grip on the bench. “I know it was outside of your control.”

Clearly. One grandfather pausing to kiss his wife good-bye. One wet highway. One raging alcoholic driving on bald tires. One grief-free teen-age driver? Afraid not.

I close my eyes and whisper, “I wish…”


  1. I really liked this, nice work. The second to last sentence gave me some trouble: Clearly. One grandfather pausing to kiss his wife good-bye. One wet highway. One raging alcoholic driving on bald tires. One grief-free teen-age driver? Afraid not.

    It doesn't quite work for me; I get the intention but I had to read it a few times to get the context because of the phrasing. I'd suggest writing this out several ways and see how it feels.

  2. I really like the grandmother's voice in this scene. It's very consistent and reveals her character.

    I only have two things to suggest. I'm not sure why there are commas around "bride", I would probably take those out. And I agree with that exposition at the end, it's a little confusing, and you don't want your reader to have to read something twice to understand it.

    I think this is a really good scene though, it captures grief very well.

  3. I love grandmother characters... They're just so wise! Especially in YA books. Every YA heroine/hero needs a good, wise grandmother!

    I actually think the best details of this piece are in the descriptors moreso than the actual dialogue, like when Pi is tucking a stray hair behind her granddaughter's ear or when L (GREAT NAME, btw) has a "death grip on the bench." I love the contrast of of the dialogue and the EXACTLY right image to SHOW the sadness.

    I second the commenter above me on the commas around "bride". As well as the commenter above her/him on the repetitive recap of what had happened. "One grandfather pausing..." etc. Repetition can be effective, but I have had an editor tell me that it should be used sparingly b/c it reveals the author's hand and loses the "voice," which we all know is HUGE in YA.

    All in all, great snippet of your work. I can tell that you've emotion in your writing, which I think is rare and very needed in YA Contemporary. (Oh, yeah. Your GENRE is not YA Romance, It's YA Contemporary. YA Romance isn't a genre.)


  4. I agree with the above posters about what doesn't quite work for me here. I also agree that it's very nice. You've done a good job of revealing the emotions of your characters, and their feelings for each other and for what's happening.

  5. I agree with the others who have said you do a nice job here of portraying the relationship between L and her grandmother, and showing us L's grief through her silences and her body language.

    Some things that didn't work so well for me:

    The phrases "one solitary rain cloud" and "a pleasant change from the sadness that lurks about you" seem too flowery for ordinary speech. Unless there is a reason for Pi to talk this way, you might want to consider something more colloquial, like "It hurts me to see my little girl looking so gloomy all the time." (not the best example - you could probably do better)

    In the third to last paragraph, when Pi says "I know it was out of your control," the implication is that she is forgiving L; in other words, that the accident was at least partially L's fault. If Grandma is trying to convince L that there's no reason for her to feel guilty, this should probably be phrased more forcefully, e.g., "There was nothing you could do."