Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Talking Heads #1

TITLE: Mortal Failings
GENRE: YA Paranormal

Cami has been secretly dating a half-Immortal, but she's starting to realize he is abusive.

"You’ll be free to do whatever you want. With me.”

“Whatever I want,” I said quietly. “What if I want to go to college?”

“College,” he repeated, full of scorn. “You’ll be far better educated in the Eternal realm.”

“And what if I want to see my mother again?”

“I’m afraid it’s not that easy. The longer a human lingers in the Eternal realm, the more painful it is to leave.”

I looked at him, horrified. “Why didn’t you tell me that before?”

He let out a noise of frustration. “You were the one who wanted to go there.”

“Only because I didn’t know what the price would be! But you knew – and you kept that from me.” I reeled. “You’ve been keeping the truth from me.”

“I did nothing of the sort. I gave you fair warning. But I couldn’t deny you anything you wanted. And you didn’t complain about the pain.”

“I screamed.”

“But you never said a word of complaint. And I saw your face once we’d entered the realm. Filled with wonder and joy.”

“It was nice to visit. But I’m not sure it’s worth the price.” My eyes stung. “I don’t belong there. How could you ever think I’d be happy there? Never to see my mom again? Or any of my friends, or any humans at all?”

His face trembled. “Cami…I thought I would be enough for you.”

Automatically I opened my mouth to apologize. Before the words could form, I bit down on my tongue. “No. That’s not how it should work. It’s not right, forcing me to choose between you and everything else in my life. I won’t do it.”

“This isn’t you,” he said, jabbing the air with an accusing finger. “This is my mother talking. She got to you somehow. She’s twisted your mind.” He seized my shoulders and pulled me into his embrace. “I forgive you. I know this isn’t you. Not gentle, adoring Cami. Not the only girl who’s ever really understood me. The one person who has seen my dual natures, and embraced them.”

“Erik,” I choked. “Don’t do this. Please. I can’t choose.”

“You’ve already made your choice. We belong to each other. There’s no going back.”

“Don’t say it that way.” I shivered. “It sounds like a death sentence.”

“It’s worse than death, Cami. If you turned your back on me, you would rend me in two. I would be shadowed. Forever mired in darkness."


  1. This is definitely the dialogue of an abuser, a controller. Shifting the blame to the other person "You wanted it!" and saying how they would die if they lost that person. It may sound dramatic, but that's really how those people are.

    It's nice to see a character recognizing that, and actually standing up for her old life, her friends and family. I'd be curious how this plays out.

    My only feedback: Erik's dialogue makes him feel a lot older than Cami. Which I suppose he is, being half-immortal.

  2. You did a good job ratcheting up the tension as the dialogue progressed. You captured the creepy, controlling nature of the relationship perfectly.

    I would recommend changing "I reeled" to something else. He's not grabbing or hitting her at this point. I get that you mean emotionally but I would still say there's probably a better word.

    Overall though, this is gripping dialogue and makes me want to read more.

  3. I'm a bit confused by what a half-immortal is (it sounds like being half-pregnant). But, that's not what this critique is about.

    I like where this is going and I think you're building his role as a victimizer well--blaming her, making her feel guilty, etc. But
    I was too distracted by the dialogue tags/action in between dialogue:
    full of scorn - Maybe he could waive the word away, or used clipped words, something that's more showing than telling
    I reeled - physically? If emotionally, show us
    I looked at him, horrified - her look was horrified or she felt horrified? It isn't clear the way it's written
    His face trembled - I've seen a body tremble with fear or cold, but I've never seen a face tremble. It's an odd description and pulled me from the scene.

    Every one of these gave me pause and that's not something you want to do, especially in such a tense scene. I think with a little work, it can be cleaned up and move at a more engaging pace.

    Good luck!

  4. I think this was very well done. I can feel the tension and the emotions in this passage. I feel like the characters are "real" as they talk. I see some telling in the action but that's easily fixed. Well done.

  5. This is a great set up and flows well. What I think is missing has been identified by the other commenters; the reactions can be expanded to show these for a deeper point of view:

    "full of scorn"
    How did he say this that she interprets the scorn? Can you relate the tone of his voice to something hurtful or traumatic that happened to her in the past? "His voice carried a current of anger, like when x..." and it can deepen the sympathy for the MC. A few examples:

    "I looked at him horrified"
    What does horrified look like? What is she doing, how is she feeling internally?

    "noise of frustration"
    you can describe blowing out air, pacing, facial ticks etc. to show the frustration. Rather than telling the reader this character is frustrated, the reader infers through actions. You can have a lot of fun with this!

    Good luck.