Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dialogue LL (The Last One!)

“Promise not to tell.” Justin hushed his loud voice as best as he could. “I have a top secret.” He looked over his shoulder, as HeHaw, his toy guitar, banged against his hip. Sharon stopped walking, bent down face-to-face with Justin, and rolled her eyes.

“It would only be a first-grade secret.” [Who said that? If Sharon, move the previous sentence into this paragraph.] [What's a first-grade secret?]

When Justin loses words, his guitar helps to find them. [A very odd statement. Whose POV are we in?]

Justin strummed HeHaw and boomed his loud voice into song.

“You’re only gonna get one chance.

You’re not such a smarty pants!”

Struuummmm. He finished his song in the deepest voice he could muster, “You’ll be sorry.”

Sharon looked at Justin, opened her mouth to say something, then changed her mind. When they reached the shade of the mimosa tree, Justin plopped HeHaw on the ground. Sharon leaned against the tree and hung her art case on a twig from a low-lying branch. [A twig
supporting an art case?]

“Your secret, is it something bad?” Sharon picked at the bark and pretended not to care.

“Nope. But it’s big.” Justin kneeled to the ground and reached one hand up and the other hand down. “Bigger than all the Chuck-E-Cheeses put together.”

It's tempting to suggest deleting the four lines that involve the song, because they're interrupting the more interesting conversation. But perhaps in context they'd be less obtrusive. Perhaps this singing commonly happens with Justin.

8 comments:

McKoala said...

I think that there's something interesting going on here, and that perhaps this is dialogue from later in the book and that's why it's hard to follow?

writtenwyrdd said...

I found this hard to follow. Mostly it was the actions you describe being confusing. For example, you say "Sharon stopped walking, bent down face-to-face with Justin, and rolled her eyes," which is too much and slows the action down. Also, I had to pause and consider what you meant by telling me this. It was all I could do not to skim that sentence. Then you say "boomed his loud voice into song," which made me think whoa! what's a first grader doing with a loud bass voice? This was a word choice problem. Perhaps say something like "he sang loudly" or "he hollered in song"?

There's something interesting happening, but you need to edit a bit more so the reader can stay focused on the conversation. I like the idea that the kid relies onthe guitar when he's uncomfortable.

Perhaps consider that a minimal gesture instead of a literal description generally will do the job.

Bernita said...

A bit jerky, but nevertheless, I like it.
No need to repeat "his loud voice" in para four. "boomed" does the job.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

I agree with mckoala. I want to see what's going on.

I think some polishing and rewording, as there were places I stumbled, like writtenwyrdd said. I had the exact same problem as "stopped walking, bent down face-to-face with Justin, and rolled her eyes". I understand what you're trying to convey here, but I think you're using too many words to do it and that's breaking up the flow.

takoda said...

Hi, and thanks so much for the input!!!
This was a **first** draft of my second MG. And when I saw EE posted on Miss Snark's site, I just couldn't believe the good fortune. So I posted what I had and kept my fingers crossed EE would accept it--!!

Thanks, EE, for the helpful suggestions. And thanks to the folks who pointed out the jerkiness of some of the speech. My first MG was told in the first person, so switching to third person will take getting used to.

A lot of the entries were really great! And EE comments and edits are quite the learning experience. Thanks again for doing this!! And thanks to MS for telling us about it!

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Tremendously weird!

The text could be more appropriate for the level. Try "Justin used his best inside voice." And then, of course, "Justin strummed HeHaw and totally forgot about using his indoor voice. For a booming first-grader, I don't think it would be inappropriate to use all caps on the song.

You could fix the twig comment just by eliminating [on a twig].

Good luck!

-Detri (dialogue J)

whitemouse said...

I thought there was some cute stuff here. The line I have a top secret did a great job of letting me know Justin was very young. That was great.

However, I thought it all moved very slowly. That may be perfectly authentic when you're attempting to have a conversation with a four-year-old, but it makes for dull reading. I'd suggest speeding up the pace a little.

eunuch said...

Now I have an imagery, of Justin Timberlake, doing Michael Jackson's "Keep it in the closet".

The horror!

Just tell me there won't be any blondes, doing Iman.