Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Talking Heads #8

TITLE: Twist of Fate
GENRE: Adult Historical Romance

Pandia and a prostitute, Flavia, wait in in the atrium of Pompeii’s gladiator school for the head gladiator to give them their assignment. A gladiator in a short leather skirt and tunic just passed through the room.

“Now I know I will swoon,” Flavia stuttered. She whirled, clutched my forearms, and leaned into me like a schoolgirl sharing a new crush. “That was Caladus, in the flesh. He is most famous. Over twenty bouts won in the arena. I heard he no longer fights. Yet here he is, within my sight. I would love to know that man better.” She straightened her toga and smoothed it over her narrow hips.

I smirked. “Flavia, you want to know every man better. Besides, I’m not sure the guy would have to pay for it.”

“Gladiators are sexual and eager to indulge whenever the opportunity presents itself. These men face death often, and sexuality is how one proves one still lives. Given the chance, I shall help that gladiator come alive.”

I rolled my eyes. “What about the other, shorter gladiator who went by a few minutes ago? Or your goatherd? I thought you wanted to marry him someday?”

“Who cares about a goatherd?” She leaned away from me and squinted toward the hallway, her brow furrowed. “Do you think if I ask nicely, he will give me some sweat?”


“Yes. Gladiator sweat. For my skin. To make me beautiful.”

“You’re kidding me, right?”

“You think I kid about such a thing?” Her lips thinned. “Why do you assume I tease when I tell the truth?”

I shrugged. It was beyond me.

“Gladiator sweat is expensive. Yet here I am, at the source. I must find a jar and beg each man I meet for a few drops. In no time, I will have enough to appear a goddess. Or, if I have great need, I will sell it for a high price.”


  1. Hmm. There's a very striking contrast between the two styles of speaking here. Pandia sounds modern, both in his dialogue and in his narration. Flavia sounds more like what I like to call Old-Timey Speak, with words like "swoon" and "shall." Of course dialogue can and should be a tool of characterization, and it's obvious that Pandia and Flavia are very different characters. But for me, the juxtaposition between modern and old-fashioned is kind of jarring. It's hard to believe that they're from the same historical era.

    Having said that, nice job with the contrast between Flavia's giddy delight and Pandia's cynical disgust. Looking at the genre, I'm intrigued as to whether these two are going to end up paired romantically. Good luck!

  2. Ha, thanks, but Pandia is a modern woman who gas traveled back in time. I should have included that in the 40 words. Thank you!

  3. Aside from being all "ewww!" about the sweat lotion, the scene is nicely set. The dialog is interesting but there's something about Flavia's syntax that makes her sound foreign to the native language. She sounds like a fun character, though.

  4. This felt a little...stiff to me. I know you're trying to capture the speaking patterns/language of the times, but it still felt a little stiff. I'd try to make it flow better by not having the first speaker be so choppy. Give her longer sentences, help her get a rhythm to her speech. I think the scene is interesting, you just need to work on the dialogue a little.

  5. I had the same question in my mind about the huge difference in the speech of the two characters, but now that I know that time travel is involved and Pandia is a modern gal, I think you've done a very good job with that. Pandia's responses are quite natural for a young 21st century woman, and I like Flavia's speech, because it's very consistent in this passage, and though it's rather stylized, it still sounds believable.

    One minor thing: it seemed a little odd to me when Pandia referred to 'the other, shorter gladiator' that had passed by. If they'd both just seen him, I don't think she would mention that he was 'shorter', as they would both know that; wouldn't she just say 'the other gladiator' or perhaps 'that other gladiator'?