Monday, August 20, 2018

Talkin' Heads #12

TITLE: The Flame Dancers
GENRE: MG dystopian future

The 12 year old school-leavers are waiting to take part in the Trials, hoping to be accepted to train as one of the privileged Flame-Dancers. Among the trialists are members of the subclass Toilers.

Extract:  Imogen squeezed Josie’s arm. “Remember … Zip it,” she warned.
“Don’t worry. I won’t utter a single word,” said Josie.
“You just have,” pointed out Emmalina.
“You know what I mean,” Josie said. “I’m only going to say nice, positive things that nobody could object to.”
“Like don’t the Toilers look nice and tidy?” said Deeba. “But oh look - their plaits are tied with string, poor things.”
“There’s one with a sash!” said Emmalina, goggling. “How would he get hold of that? Oh wow! He’s got a brown armband! Guys - brown armband - you know what that means don’t you?”
“Shuddup, don’t look, they’ll see you,” hissed Josie.
But the tall, pale-faced Toiler wearing a yellow sash had spotted them. He flushed scarlet and covered the armband with his hand. Josie turned away quickly. She’d have like to look a bit longer, to see if the girl from the Burning was there but then the boy would think she was staring, like Emmalina.
 “I’d love to know why he’s a Toiler,” Emmalina said, still staring. “He must have done something terrible.”
“It might not have been him, it could be someone in his family,” said Josie. “Anyway, we’ll never know.”
“I bet that Brother by the door knows,” said Emmalina.
“Emmalina! You can’t just ask,” said Deeba.
“Why not? We should ask. He could be a murderer for all we know.”
“Of course he couldn’t,” said Josie. “Emmalina no…!”
“Yes,” said Emmalina, setting off towards the door.


  1. It's hard to tell what's going on here in the brief text shown, but just commenting on the dialog, it appears to me that you're using 'said' in almost every dialog tag. While there's nothing wrong in that, especially when there are more than 2 characters, but you could avoid some of them by giving the reader some exposition.
    Josie tucked her hair back. “Shuddup, don’t look, they’ll see you.”
    Emmalina brushed shoulders with Deeba. “I bet that Brother by the door knows.”
    I would either stick with: [character name] said, or said [character name], but I wouldn't mix them up. I prefer to use the character name before said. That's a personal preference though. Again, it's hard to tell what's going on without a bigger sample, but the dialog sounded natural enough and seemed to carry through the story line very well.

  2. The dialogue is easy to follow, even though there are so many characters in the scene. I agree with icsjohn's suggestion to break up some of the "said" tags with actions. It might make the scene more dynamic as well.

  3. I like the back and forth dialogue between the girls. I know it's just a short sample, but I would have liked the different speakers to be more distinctive. From this little bit we read here it seems like any of the characters could have delivered any of the lines. Even though they all seem to be standard spoiled mean girls (at this point in the story), it would be good to see individual quirks and speech patterns. Josie seems to be the one making the most effort to be nice, and also seems to the be the point of view character, so I'd love to see more reactions from her, both to her surroundings, and to what the other girls are saying.

  4. I think this could benefit from a bit more internal thought from the POV character (which I think is Josie). I also agree that you could replace some of the tags with a bit more action.

    Good luck!

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