Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Talking Heads #16

TITLE: "Burning for You"
GENRE: Romantic Suspense

Set up: Carly is consoled by her gay friend, Brandon, who calls her from Los Angeles, while she's stuck in her former hometown in central Illinois. Carly is falling for Adam, the sheriff. But Adam has an ex-wife and children. (Complications). Kramer is her pooch.

Stop. Stop thinking about him. She discarded her plastic cup in a garbage can and observed the park grounds. Everything was still, not a breeze stirred the leaves or flowers. No one strolled along the cobblestone path. It was just she and Kramer.

A hot day, a strangely idyllic one. She brushed a fast-food napkin over her upper lip, wondering if she'd ever get used to the humidity.

Or looking over her shoulder.

Her cell rang. Grinning, she answered immediately. "Fred!"

"Ethel," Brandon said, his voice loud with energy. "When do I pick you up at the airport?"


"Have you booked the return flight? I'll send an armed escort for Kramer, so those airline idiots won't lose him again."

"Haven't booked the flight yet."

"What? You are so not blowing off that audition."

"I won't."

"You'd better tell me what's wrong, or I'll fly out there myself and horrify those crones with my pink feather boa."

When she laughed, she choked on a sob. She sank to the bench with its chipped green paint and told Brandon everything, about the tarantula, the mangled marionette, the mill saw, the drippy threat painted inside the barn. He listened quietly until she told him she slept with Adam.

"OMG, girl, at least you got a bonus round, putting up with all that stress. Did Studley live up to his name?"

"And then some." She bunched the leash around her left hand and told her friend about the ex-wife. Panting heavily, Kramer rested on his paws like a Sphinx. "Listen. I've got to get going." She rose to her feet. "Kramer needs air conditioning."

"Oh, Carly girl. I hear loooovve in your voice."

"Lust, Fred. Not love."

"Oh, it's love and you know it. Carly-kins, are you just going to lie there and take it? I'd double up the lip gloss and fight for my man."

"She's supposedly a looker."

"And what are you? Yesterday's leftovers? Don't you let that ex-wife re-claim that package. That Festival's coming up tomorrow, right? Don't you dare hide your hotness. You show that hunk and his junk what you're packing. Make him forget that ex-wife."

"What do you mean?"

"That white dress of yours."


  1. You have some good characterization with Brandon, and I love the feather boa line. My only issue is when she says, "Kramer needs air conditioning," Brandon says, "I hear loooovve in your voice." I know he's talking about the conversation that was glossed over and not about the dog, but it still doesn't fit.

    That's my only issue. Otherwise, I found it engaging.

  2. I thought Brandon sounds like a fun character.

    For the most part, the conversation makes sense to me. The only part I had a little trouble with was where he demands she tell him what's wrong. The prior dialog didn't seem to indicate a problem--just a delay in her return. But maybe her characterization or previous scenes make that indicative of a problem in itself.

  3. Very real, fresh, showed the characters' relationship quite well.

    I agree with first commenter about the Kramer needs AC line. I'd move that to just before they sign off so it signals a clear end to the conversation.

    One minor thing. I get the use of Fred and Ethel as pet names, but maybe they only need to be used the first time at the beginning of the chat so the reader doesn't get confused down the way with who might be talking. (I know, give the reader credit for brains, but this is more along the lines of not having characters address each other by name more than maybe once in a scene.

  4. This sounds like a fun story. I like the lively interchange between the two characters.

    For me, the only thing missing, might be a little physical to go with the conversation, something to show how the character who is speaking is feeling. For example. When she says, "What do you mean?" You could insert: My mouth dropped, or I scratched my neck, or I cringed.

    All the best with this!

  5. I agree that Brandon has some greatl lines, although he seemed a bit clichéd for a gay character.
    Like the others, I didn't get the Fred/Ethel reference at first, although if I'd read prior to this, it might not be confusing.
    I stumbled on the "Grinning, she answered immediately." I tend to avoid-ing at the beginning of the sentence, because it implies it happens at the same time. Why would she grin if she didn't know who it was yet?
    I also was a bit confused about the "And then some," because immediately after that, she tells about the wife. Those two things didn't connect logically for me.
    I also didn't get how he heard love in her voice from saying that the dog needed air conditioning. If it's because she's avoiding the topic, maybe you can make that more clear.
    These are just a few quibbles, overall you have some interesting things here.
    All the best!

  6. I laughed at the description that Kramer is the "pooch" (cute) and also the Ethel/Fred names.

    I don't think the lines "soon" and about the return flight are needed because the real answer is that she has not book any flights yet. I'd also like to see some physical movement or a narrative line after one of her lines of dialogue; how is she acting when she's saying she hasn't booked it? Is she distracted, upset, etc. Or after "I won't" this would be a good place for a reflective line that might reveal what she is feeling which is contrary to what she is telling her friend.

    "When she laughed, she choked on a sob." Nothing wrong here, but you could expand on this to show her conflicting emotions. A good spot to get creative and tap deeper into her conflict.

    I'm curious about the mangled marionette!

    The "panting heavily" threw me because it comes before we know she is talking about the dog, and it reads like she is panting heavily at first. Very minor but I would switch it or take out entirely.

    I also didn't quite get the shift to the comment about hearing love in her voice seeing that it came after she mentions the dog. Maybe skip the dog stuff there and move that line up to after they are talking about the guy.

    Maybe another line of internal reaction or reflection after her responses toward the end, again to get a read on what the character is feeling vs. what she is saying.

    Good writing overall, I think it's more that there's room for added narrative to deepen the connection to the main character.

  7. Overall this had good energy and flow. I agree with the previous commenters about the panting dog (I had to re-read it) and the "looove" sentence (again had to re-read). Brandon truly came alive as a character, though at times seemed a bit stereotyped as someone else mentioned. This may just be me, but the paragraph that starts with "A hot day..." didn't fully work for me and brought me out of the story. First I wondered why "strangely idyllic" (thoughbmaybe this is explained later or references something earlier) and secondly why she was commenting on the humidity if it was an idyllic day. I liked your last line a lot and it would have kept me reading. Good job!