Monday, January 28, 2013

Talkin' Heads #40

TITLE: The Guardian Lineage
GENRE: YA / Urban Fantasy

Magus Stockton has just reinstated Mike Prior into Magical Sparring class, a day after Mike injured a fellow classmate.

“Two things happened yesterday," Stockton said. "First, you deliberately disobeyed my instructions to attack when the bell rang, instead waiting for your opponent to produce a shield. Second, you nearly decapitated a fellow student. Which of those reasons was the basis for your suspension?”

"Because... I hurt her?"

Stockton shook his head. “If you think that I care whether or not Ms. Frost sprains a wrist, you are quite mistaken. Much worse has happened to Guardians in the past. A little toughening would do you people some good.”

Stockton blew out a frustrated breath. “You don’t understand, do you.”

Mike wavered, then decided to take the high road.


The Magus eyed Mike, seemingly deciding whether he wanted to share this piece of information with him. Finally he said, “I want my students to get hurt.”

“Excuse me?” Mike blurted out.

“You heard right. I want my students to get hurt. I want my students to feel like they’re on the battlefield.

“The whole reason we have a Sparring class is so that if you’re confronted with a fight – and I don’t mean four kids in the dining room trying to steal your lunch money, I mean a fight like you were in last night, in the forest – so if you’re in a fight, you don’t wet yourself. If you’ve seen combat already, if you’ve learned what it means to procure spells on a dime, if you’ve felt what it means to get hit with a magical weapon, then you may survive.

"Without that, you might as well be a gargoyle at high noon.”


  1. Overall, the exchange is good. I get a sense of the characters and it moves the story forward.

    But the paragraphing throws me off. The last three paragraphs are all Stockton, but I first read it as Stockton-Mike-Stockton.

    And some of Stockton's dialog could be made tighter: "Much worse has happened to Guardians in the past" is passive -- what about "much worse happens to Guardians." Or the penultimate paragraph: "if you've learned what it means to procure spells on a dime, if you've felt what it means to get hit with a magical weapon" vs. "if you can procure spells in an instant, have taken hits from magical weapons," -- make every word count.

    In other words, I like it, but I see some opportunities for editing and tightening it up!

  2. I am totally intrigued by this story - at first I was worried that it is another magic school story, but yours sounds unique.

    I agree with the previous commenter, so will add just a couple things. The first paragraph is telly - Stockton probably wouldn't voice all that. Maybe you can work it in as internal dialogue? Or if the reader already knows this, is it necessary?

    I don't understand what the "high road" is - maybe I would had I read more. Same with "gargoyle at high noon."

    I wouldn't mind knowing a little more what Mike is feeling about this dressing down.

  3. I like this exchange as well, and the surprising truth it reveals (he ants the guardians to get hurt). I also got thrown off by the paragraphing and had to read it a couple times to be sure of who was speaking. This is very intriguing though and I get a good sense of the two characters.

  4. I like this exchange, I thought it was good. I only have one nit-picky thing: Is this tight 3rd person from the boys POV? I thought the bit about Stockton deciding whether he should tell him the truth was a little telling. I think you could rephrase this. You have the skills. :)

  5. Very nice, I just think the Magus's dialogue needs to be tightened up a little... or give Mike some longer passages to balance it out.
    This flowed very well, I especailly loved the Magus's comment about wanting students to get hurt. It says a lot about his character.

  6. I agree with the above comments about tightening things up. In the second to last paragraph, the beginning sentence could be "The whole reason we have a Sparring class is if you get in a fight-"

  7. Good writing, but i agree with the reviewers above me. You have a sentence, a paragraph and another sentence, all spoken by the same person (the teacher). But because you have started new paragraphs, we expect these to be spoken by different people. He could address Mike by name, so we know its the teacher speaking.