TITLE: Summer Lake
GENRE: YA Historical
Cass is spending the summer up at the lake with her grandmother and her boyfriend, Derek, doesn't understand why she had to go away. He doesn't trust her and is questioning her in a phone conversation ...
"I'm sure, Derek. There's no one else here to talk to. I've only been here a day, and it's all tourists up here." Aggravation seeps into my tone.
"I just don't want you doing anything I wouldn't approve of while you're up there. I don't even know why you had to go. You could have stayed with me at my place this summer." His words are clipped.
"I wanted to spend some time with my grandmother. You know that. That's all this this summer is about. Spending time with my grandmother. And trying to relax and enjoy myself a little. Is that such a crime?" I speak slowly, hoping he'll understand, even though I've said the exact words to him several times already.
"I just don't know why you had to go so far away. I need you." Great. now he's whining.
"I'll be home this weekend. I need to talk to my mom. I found a photo of my dad."
"Your dad? I thought you didn't know him."
"I don't. But I found this photograph and now I can't stop thinking about him. So, anyway, I'll be in town this weekend. I'll see you then." I need to be finished with this conversation.
A garbled voice echos in the background as someone yells "Derek!"
"I gotta go. The boys are waiting for me in the van. I'll talk to you later."
"Ok." I hold back the tears that threaten to spill.
"I love you," he whispers.
Wow, I liked this a lot. Here are a few suggestions to strengthen this, but I already think you have a great scene here:ReplyDelete
For this, I think the narrative works better prior to the dialogue, so we get an idea of her tone and reaction based on the previous jerky comment her boyfriend made:
[moved this up] I speak slowly, hoping he'll understand, even though I've said the exact words to him several times already. "I wanted to spend some time with my grandmother. You know that. That's all this this summer is about. Spending time with my grandmother. And trying to relax and enjoy myself a little. Is that such a crime?"
In this excerpt, we don't know why finding a photo of her dad is significant, but maybe just a reaction line on her tone of voice, or how she feels when she says this can give the statement a little more weight. She could take a breath in between saying she needs to talk to her mom and mentioning the photo. Something like that.
I was reading her as more annoyed rather than potentially crying, so the tears threw me off. I can see how she might experience both, but I wonder if the tears work here. Maybe a different physical reaction may play better?
I think this worked for the most part, but "Aggravation seeps into my tone" is more telling than showing. The context of what she says doesn't sound aggravated, but matter of fact. You might work a little harder to get the aggravated tone across.ReplyDelete
Again, in the next paragraph, it says his words are clipped, but the sentences are long and fluid, so it doesn't come across as "clipped."
When you get to the photo of the dad, things start to come together and the dialogue works. I think it's the way you're setting up your beats in the first four paragraphs that muddies the dialogue. You tell the reader how the dialogue was delivered after the character has already spoken. It may work better to break it up and offer audible descriptions instead of telling.
Good luck with this!
Actually, I'm a bit confused by this one. The narrator starts off annoyed and wanting to get off the phone as quickly as possible, and by the end she is holding back "tears that threaten to spill." I am not sure how it goes from point A to point B like that.ReplyDelete
You do a good job setting up the 'needy' boyfriend. And the introduction of the photograph is an effective way to get the reader wondering about what the overall story is about.
The emotional content in this passage was really strong. I felt sympathy for Cass from the first line. Derek seems very controlling, maybe borderline abusive. "I just don't want you doing anything I wouldn't approve of..." is creepy coming from a teenager. (I hope creepy is what you were going for.)ReplyDelete
The introduction of the photo seemed a little forced to me. Cass is guarded and defensive in the preceding lines. Would she really blurt that information so quickly? It might work better if the scene were stretched a bit: have Cass tell Derek she's coming home, let them both calm down, and then it might be natural for her to say, "I found a picture of my dad."
I agree with what Karen Duvall said about telling us how the dialog sounds like after we read it. I'm not sure you need to do anything different with the line about the father's photograph, since this is such a small snippet. I assume you showed emotion earlier when she found it, and this brief description shows how the father is becoming more important than the whiny boyfriend.ReplyDelete
I was put off by his line "I wouldn't want you to do anything I wouldn't approve of." Who is this guy, her jailer? Sorry, but I just could not read him as a sympathetic character after that. He may tell her he loves her, but I only see him trying to control her, and she is trying to placate him, rather than standing up to him.ReplyDelete
I also found myself confused by what exactly the character's were actually feeling.ReplyDelete
Cass says she wants to spend time with her grandmother (maternal, I assume), yet complains about the tourists and no one to talk to and after one day is anxious to return home to confront her mom with a photograph (why doesn't she do this on the phone? surely her mother would know the photo. I am guessing she already tried, and failed, to talk to her grandmother about it).
I want to know more about why she is moved to tears at the end of the passage.
Cass sounds more in control of the conversation (directing it away from him, toward herself and her dad) than someone with an insecure boyfriend.
Derek's statement 'I just don't want you doing anything I wouldn't approve of while you're up there.' while a huge red flag for controlling, possibly abusive, boyfriend is also wordy and sounds unnatural. If he really is a control freak and emotionally abusive, he would be far less direct and would make her feel far more guilty about leaving him. He would also probably question her incessantly about what she has done, where she has gone and who she has talked to. I do think he would say I need you, but would not sound whiny.
To a reader with more background, Derek's trust issue may not verge on abusive.
The tension in their relationship, and between Cass and her mom, is crystal clear, though.
Keep it up.
I was confused by the motivation for the tears at the end. Up until then, I got the impression she was anxious to be rid of Derek. Also, the same problem with the opening as she complains there is nothing to do, no one to talk to, etc - or words to that effect - and yet she then says how she had to be there when he offers her a way out. And he has only been there a day so her commitment level seems forced. The line about not doing anything he wouldn't approve of sounds threatening if it is serious - if it is spoken in jest (as is so often the case) then it lends a whole different feel to the relationship - i.e. one is a warning sign and the other is just a friendly jibe. So, I think much could be solved through more directed internal thought that lent precision to her feelings.ReplyDelete