Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Talking Heads - Teaser Tuesday - Blog Contest

So my friends at critique group challenged me to write something only using dialog. I'm not really sure if it was a challenge or I just transformed it into one in my head. They said something about how they liked my dialog and I actually think one of them was tearing into me [with very sharp teeth] because I didn't have enough sensory details. Or something. And I was saying how sometimes I think it's okay to just let the characters talk without any blocking details or anything. I mean if they're sitting at the breakfast table and you've established that, I don't need the demise of every bite of bacon. I mean, another clue every little bit or so is okay, but not every line of dialog needs an action, internal thought...or sensory detail. (lol)

I just did a post on writing dialog, so you can check that out. Dialog should reveal things. Not only plot things, but character things too. I believe that through dialog, your characters live. Really live.

So I thought I'd write something with only (okay, MOSTLY) dialog. And I'm throwing down the gauntlet. That's right. This is a contest. I want you to submit a snippet of dialog (could be from your novel or something else you've written, or it could be something you specifically write for this Dialog Throwdown) in the comments on this thread. Maximum wordage: 250 words. Enter by say, Friday this week. That's the 15th.

I'll read them. Choose a winner. (Or should we vote? I'm all about a democracy, but I want everyone to play nice-nice.) The prize? I am sort of notorious for slaying queries, so I'll look at and help you privately with your query letter. If you don't need that because you're the query queen/king and/or I've already helped you, I'll shred, er, critique your first chapter.

So here's mine. Just so you know, this is a magic lesson between two humans (Jared and Annie) who don't know much magic and a group of magical beings (including Jon) who, well, know a lot of magic.


"You didn't do your protections," Jon said.

"I did too," I snapped.

"I wasn't talking to you."

"Shut up, Jon," Jared said.

"Jon, so help me…." I threatened.

"Okay, I'll help you." He stood up and threw a purple disc with a long tail spiraling behind it.

I didn't know any spells besides how to protect myself, but Jared set up the lame no-good shield again.

"Jared, what good is that going to do?" I asked.

"Shut up! It's all I know."

"I know you learned more than one spell today. I saw you."

"How many did you learn, princess?"

"I learned protections. That's all I know. Freakin' take them out!"

"I'm using what I have for this damn shield! You have more magic than me, help me out here!"

"I would, but—ack!" Ice snaked over my legs up to my waist. Whoever had done this was so dead. And right now, I could commit Jon's murder, no problem.

"See if you can get out," Jon said.

"What the hell is this?" Jared looked at his encased legs. "I did the shield."

"Two feet off the ground," Jon replied.

I raised my eyebrows at Jared. "Well?"

"Well what? I don't know what to do."

"How about an Inferno?" Jon suggested. Black fire soared across the library in a funnel, licking at me and melting the ice. I couldn't help the scream that tore through my throat. Next to me, Jared cussed like he didn't know any other words.

"Jon," Edgar said, almost wearily. "Dude, do we really need to freak them out?"


So...given the little you know about Jon, Annie (she's the "I" in the story) and Jared, what do you think Jon would say to that? What about Jared or Annie? Do you get a little glimpse of who they are?

And now it's your turn! Lay it on me, baby!


Tess said...

I can see the relationships - the attitude - the action - really good stuff. If I'm being honest (and only because you asked) I got confused between characters and still am not sure I have it all figured out. It might be easier if it were just two characters -- but that third one kind of got me confused (since there were no tags). Maybe I'm just dense.

I love teaser tuesday!

Stacy Nyikos said...

Great characters. I got a real sense of who they are.

Scott said...

Elana - I definitely get a sense of the characters, and perhaps some underlying tensions, and a bit of competitiveness between Annie and Jared.

As for what Jon would say . . . "Well, yeah, dude!" I sense, maybe mistakenly, a bit of snarkiness to Jon.

Very good bit of dialogue.


Kathryn Hupp-Harris said...

I get the feeling that Jon is going to say something along the "I told you so," or "Shoulda, coulda, woulda known" lines.

I don't get the impression that he's too sympathetic.

Here's my entry to your contest. I'm up for a good query-slayin'.:-)

“That’s it? You’re not going to yell at me?”

“Why would I yell, Heather? You have every right to want answers. He did things to you no one should ever have to go through.”

My skin prickled. “Did Nick tell you?”

“Nick?” His voice rose. “Mingia, Heather! He didn’t have to tell me anything. I saw your bruises. Remember?”

The long silence I offered magnified the vague alarms I knew I’d set off in Dave’s head.


“I’m here.”

“Have you talked to him yet?”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to talk about it.”

Anonymous said...

Interesting post! I know I myself don't mind too much dialogue but if there are tags that are being repeated, I suggest using movement or those sensory things you mentioned! haha!

Your dialogue is showing action, which is great! A few parts made me laugh! Great job! I hate it personally when I have more than 2 people talking because labels are needed but I noticed how you put their names in, I might have to test that out to see how I like it! Great post!

Robyn Campbell said...

I love these characters. I want to know what's going on with them. I think Jon would say, " Uh yeah!" If I get the extra time, I'll enter your contest. Sounds like fun! :)

J.R. Johansson said...

What an interesting challenge. I may have to try that. Great dialogue! :)

Scott said...

Here's my entry.

“Is there a reason you invited me along on your morning walk?” Jake glanced briefly at his mother.

“Can’t a mother want to spend time with her favorite son?” Cordelia didn’t bother to look at him. She kept her eyes focused forward.

He chuckled very softly, almost not a sound at all. “I’m your only son.”

“You’re still my favorite.” She looked straight ahead and smiled at a woman who walked past them at a furious pace. “She just found out her husband’s been cheating on her with her best friend.”


"It’s the scandal of the neighborhood.”

“You spend too much time talking with Mrs. Kravitz.”

“She is the source of all information.” Cordelia laughed and brushed back a loose strand of her hair. “Ophelia seems tired and distant lately.”


Cordelia stopped abruptly and grabbed his arm. “What is that supposed to mean?”

He grinned and started walking again. She caught up quickly. “It means I knew you had an ulterior motive, Mother.”

“A mother can’t want to see her son every now and then?”

“Really, Mother.”

Cordelia humphed in disgust. “You’re an ungrateful, spoiled child.”

“I am the product of my mother’s love and devotion.”

“I sometimes think I’m losing you to them.”

“I sometimes think I’m losing myself to them.” He no longer recognized the boundaries – distance, snarkiness, anger – he set for himself when he began his prison sentence. “Why isn’t anything as easy as I imagined in my mind?”

“Do you really want me to answer that question?”


Rebecca Knight said...

Oh, I brought it, Sista!

I posted mine over at my blog, because this is too much fun:



Rebecca Knight said...

Ooh, Scott, I really like yours! The tension.. the characterization... nice!!!

Unknown said...

Sorry, this took me so long to get up... You know those weeks, I'm sure. Anyway, it's mostly dialogue...


I loved your fun and quick conversation!

Abby Annis said...

I always enjoy reading your snippets, Elana. Great job conveying their frustration and irritation, and it seems like Jon's sense of humor is a bit twisted :).

I know I'm a total slacker, entering at the last minute. Here's mine, anyway.

“What? Are you guys going to start laughing at me now? I’m not imagining it. It feels broken.”

Tina touched Jack’s face. “Right here?”

“Yes. Can you feel it?”

“Not with my fingers.”

“I think we just discovered another one of your abilities.” Jack’s huge smile looked strange on his battered face.

“One of my abilities? What’s that, the ability to feel broken things?”

“No, Livy.” Tina laughed. “The ability to heal.”

“Are you saying I can heal his face?” I just wanted to have one day where I didn’t have to deal with something new and overwhelming.

“Not necessarily. It will depend on how strong you are. My ability to heal is negligible. I can feel the break, but I probably wouldn’t be able to heal something of this size. The most I’ve ever been able to heal is a small cut or a bruise, but I can walk you through it if you want to try.”

“Oh, I don’t know.” I shook my head and put up my hands.

“I’m sure you’ll do great,” Jack said. “It won’t hurt anything to try.”

“How can you be so sure? What if I just make it worse?” I took his hand that held the ice and moved it to his cheek. “I got this for a reason. The swelling is getting worse every second. Go sit down and keep that on your face.” I pushed him toward the couch.

“No.” He smiled, lowering his hand. “You’re going to heal it.”

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