Thursday, January 14, 2016

Talkin' Heads #5

TITLE: Team Loser
GENRE: MG - Contemporary Adventure

It's the first day of school for Corbin, who lives with his grandfather. He's trying to make sure Gramps is taken care of before he leaves.

“Mrs. Sanchez is coming over later and bringing food,” I said, put my jacket back on and straightened the tie. “You be nice to her.”

“We don’t need charity.” Gramps frowned.

“I mowed her yard and fixed the drain in her kitchen sink so it’s totally not charity and anyway, she’s lonely since her husband died.” I gave him a firm look. “If you get your back up, she won’t let me help her anymore. She has her pride, too.”

He breathed hard through his nose to fake that he wasn’t as pleased as punch to have a hot lunch and female company in the middle of the day. “I guess I could eat something,” he said.

“And she’s a good cook.” I added.

“There is that,” he said.

I shook my head, picked up my briefcase, and dropped a kiss on the top of his white hair. “I’ll see you after school.” I said. “I might be a little late, but I’ll be back in time to make dinner.” After I went job hunting that is.

“Do you have your lunch money?” he asked.

I patted my back pocket for my wallet. “Got it,” I said.

“I love you boy,” Gramps said, “Even if you are a pain in the rear.”

“I love you, too.” I said. “Behave yourself.”

“I might,” he said. “And then again, I might not.” He laughed in a way that made me nervous, which was his intention all along.


  1. Nice relationship building between your two characters with their banter.

    I'd need to see more of the story to know more about Corbin but at this point I'm confused about his age. You said this story was MG but he's carrying a briefcase and planning to get a job so that seems odd.

    Depending on his age, he might sound too mature sometimes. "You be nice to her" and "behave yourself" both sound like phrases older people would say. You can keep the intention but make it sound younger by simplifying it: "Be nice to her" and "Be good."

    "So it's totally not charity" sounds pretty feminine and young which is at odds with when Corbin sounds older at other spots.

    Also look for ways to streamline what your characters say: "Mrs. Sanchez is bringing food over later" rather than "coming over later and bringing food."

    Good job!

  2. I'm also a bit confused about the character's age. The details of the briefcase, wallet, tie, job hunting all indicate an older teen or even a young adult (18+). The tone and speech patterns as well. I'm not feeling a sense of middle grade here. How does your character feel about taking care of his grandfather? Or about having to care for him if he is a kid/young adult? There are little moments of reflection you can work in about how he feels, especially if those feelings conflict with expected duties.

  3. This situation makes me curious about the story, but Corbin's dialogue impresses me as more mature than a MG hero. The actions of mowing a lawn, fixing a drain, job hunting and kissing Grampa's head are at odds with, "Do you have your lunch money?" (A few boys in my fifth and sixth grade classes carried old briefcases and wore ties, so I could buy that behavior as an attempt to make a statement.) Ultimately, I'm confused about the character. But curious about the story! Good luck!

  4. Love gramps voice. Great last line too.

    I have to agree that something is off a bit in Corbin's voice. Something as simple as 'Be nice to her' versus 'You be nice to her' can sometimes make the voice 'sound' different. For some reason it seemed effeminate to me. Like a twenty something woman. Not sure why. And that's subjective too.

    In the first line, definitely get rid of the tag. 'said' offers nothing to the reader.

    I am curious about the job thing, but I assume that's explained beforehand.

    Anyway I think a few little tweaks are all you need. It's amazing what a couple words can do to an entire scene.