Thursday, January 14, 2016

Talkin' Heads #16

TITLE: Buddy
GENRE: MG - Contemporary

Julia is talking with her young foster brother, Charlie, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and recently tore all the heads off her new Barbie dolls. He’s come to her to explain his behavior.

 “It’s cause their heads come off easier than their clothes do,” said Charlie. He picked up two of the dolls and stuck them near my face. “I wanted this doll to wear that dress, but I couldn’t get their clothes off. So I took their heads off, and now they have on different clothes. It’s neat, right?”

I picked up one of the dolls and pointed it toward Charlie. “Here’s the problem. The way you put this doll back together has left her with a dark body and a light head. Don’t you think that makes her look kind of weird?”

Charlie reached out and took the doll from my hand. He ran his hands down the long, pale hair.

“Nope, I like her like this. It makes her more interesting. Besides, if Mom and Dad were my first parents, I could look like this.”

I sighed. “It doesn’t work like that. You would probably just be a nice creamy brown all over. Sort of like coffee with a lot of milk poured in.” I took the doll from him and twirled her around in my hands. “You wouldn’t be like this.”

He shoved the dolls toward me. “Well, you don’t know that for sure.” Then his gaze shifted to the right. “Victoria’s back.”


  1. It's so great to see a character who is in foster care! I've seen some agents tweeting that they'd like to see manuscripts dealing with that topic, so I hope that bodes well for you.

    I feel like this is a really tricky scene and it's missing some emotion for me. I would imagine that Julia was very upset that Charlie was messing with her dolls, but we never see that release of her anger once she understands his reasoning. Maybe there needs to be some narrative internalizing going on and less dialogue? Julia's dialogue doesn't sound natural to me and I think the scene would have more power if we were in her head. For example, instead of explaining to Charlie what he would look like, she could be thinking how sad it is that he can't get what he wants. Just my suggestion. Others may feel differently!

  2. I really like Charlie's voice and what it reveals about his thought process. This is a good interaction between him and Julia, though I agree that since it's from her perspective, you should offer a glimpse at what she's feeling. Good luck!

  3. I agree that Charlie's voice is realistic. I also agree that Julia would be upset and needs to show that emotion. I feel though, you should show Julia's emotion in dialogue so it is immediate. Also, depending on her anger, body language, tone of voice, and use of language it will & should alter Charlie's behavior. For example, most children when they're told they did something wrong are defensive. Most likely, Charlie having Asperger's has some behavioral issues, which could make him yell in defense, throw the dolls, kick... and storm off. Julia, at first most likely wouldn't know how to deal with that behavior, but along the way she could learn and in turn help Charlie learn to keep control. I like your MS idea. Keep going!

  4. I agree, you've grasped Charlie's attitude well. It's straight to the point. However, Julia should contrast that. Suzanne had a good idea of using narration to show how she's feeling. Is she purposefully hiding the emotion so she doesn't set Charlie off? What is the relationship between these two kids? How long has Charlie been in foster care with them? If Julia knows Charlie really well, maybe she would be able to have this conversation without a lot of emotion. Has he done something like this before?
    How old is Julia? I'm getting the impression that she's in high school, because she can handle this situation so calmly. However, that would make the dolls seem out of place. An elementary or even middle school aged child would have a few angry comments in there, or at least a bit of an attitude in their tone.
    Again, Charlie is spot on! Way to go.

  5. Overall, this is really well done. I can totally see Julia's exasperation with Charlie, and his quirky way of thinking. You might want to take a second look at the vocabulary you've chosen. I don't think I've ever heard my kids use the word "Neat" or "Nope." They sounds old-fashioned. Search for some different-sounding slang.

    Read the second paragraph out loud. The sentences are way too long and formal. A kid would just say "She looks weird with a dark body and a light head."

    Good luck!

  6. This reads well, but IMHO it needs a bit more variety in the pacing, use of beats vs. tags, and different voices. Mix it up a little so we could tell who was talking even without any identifiers. That said, I get the characters and I like that there's no extra unnecessary explanation of the stuff we learn through dialogue.