Thursday, January 14, 2016

Talkin' Heads #6

TITLE: A Complex Solution
GENRE: YA - Contemporary suspense/romance

Walking down his driveway, Joe has just indicated to Amanda he'd like for them to be more than friends. Their relationship had clearly moved past the friendship stage and he proposed the obvious.  

“Joe, I−”

“Don’t say anything. Think about it. When you’re ready, let me know.” He squeezed her hand tighter.
“Thank you, Joe. I don’t know what to say. I mean, I know what I want to say, but−” She dropped her eyes to the ground. “You’ve been such a good friend to me, especially with everything that’s happened to me.  It’s been tough, ever since my parents died. But I need to tell you, I wasn’t a whole lot 'different' before the accident.”

Joe furrowed his brow. “What do you mean, Mand?”

“I mean, I was…depressed. A lot. For a whole bunch of reasons, I guess. And after mom and dad died, I completely broke down. There was a time I tri−” She inhaled sharply and bit her bottom lip, averting his eyes. No, I can’t do it.

“Hey, c’mon.” A shadow crossed his face. “Please Mand, you can tell me.”

“It’s nothing.”  She immediately drew her hand behind her back, the scar burning bone-deep.  She still wasn’t ready. But, when?

“Mand, something’s bothering you. If you need to tell me something, don’t keep it inside. I can handle a lot…trust me.” He tilted her chin up with his finger, and looked her in the eye.

“No, what I wanted to say is, time would be good.”

“Whatever you need, I’m here.”


  1. I thought this was good. The dialogue and characters are believable and we get a sense of who they are just from this snippet. One small thing I would take out is the second 'to me' after happened. I think just leaving it as 'with everything that's happened' sounds a bit more natural here since he seems to know her situation.

  2. I agree that the dialogue is well done. And it definitely feels natural. (And I agree about cutting that second "to me.") The pacing is also well done. My only suggestion would be to try to rewrite some of the dialogue that sounds like I've heard it before, like these two parts: 1) “Don’t say anything. Think about it. When you’re ready, let me know.” 2) “Whatever you need, I’m here.”

  3. I agree. This was well done, but I would cut out the "There was a time when I tri-" line. If she's not ready to talk about it, she wouldn't have brought it up. I would switch to her thoughts sooner in that section.

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  5. Think about how often you use someone's name when you're addressing them. Really, most people don't do it often, so I'd go through and delete pretty much all of those.

    Also, there are a lot of extra words that most people, particularly teens, wouldn't use in conversation because the person we're speaking to would already get it. (I can't strike through in a comment, so I've just tightened this up as an example)

    “You’ve been such a good friend, especially with everything that’s happened since my parents died. But really, I wasn’t a whole lot 'different' before the accident.”

  6. I thought this snippet of dialogue sounded very natural for young adults. A couple parts, as others suggested, could be shortened a little. I like the mystery of the scar, her desire to tell but understanding she's not ready to discuss it with Joe. Is it a trust issue? Is it her uncertainty at his reaction? Is it not wanting others to know? Nice job creating interest in the reader.

    Suggestions for condensing dialogue:
    “Thank you, Joe. I don’t know what to say. I mean, I know what I want to say, but−” She dropped her eyes to the ground.

    --could be changed to--

    "Thanks. I--" She dropped her eyes, uncertain how to express her thoughts. "I know what I want to say, but..."

  7. Sorry, but I'm about to give almost useless feedback.

    It's a good scene. The dialogue flows well. I can picture it all in my mind. But I don't empathize. I'm not brought into it. There's some bit of truth missing from it.

    It could be the details in the sentences--Mand's first paragraph is wordy, and Joe should just say one word after furrowing his brow--but it's just not emotional to me. And I think it should be.