Friday, March 30, 2007

The Next Line 20

Two sisters are talking over the phone while the elder, Mike, gives her toddler daughter a bath.

Gabe grunted, and Mike could almost see her scowling and crossing her arms. "You are impossible. Why did I call you again?"

"Because I know everything. You're either worried that you're getting attached to someone you can't have, or you're panicking because you're afraid of risking your precious independence by letting this guy stay with you a couple of weekends a month. Right?"

Silence. She folded Ivy into her pajamas, then sat her on the closed toilet lid to brush out the mess of curls while they were still wet and manageable.

"How do you do that?"

"How long have I known you, kiddo?"

"Yeah, yeah. Don't rub it in."

She smiled, the expression turning into a grin when her little girl bared all of her new teeth in return."

Gabe, I'm going to give you a piece of advice. I learned it the hard way, and I have no doubt that you will ignore it and learn it the hard way yourself, but I feel obliged to tell you anyway. Ready?"

"Get on with it."

"The more you fight against something, the more it crushes you when it wins."

"That's . . . damn depressing, Sis."

"Well, I think both of us should know it by now, being two women named Mike and Gabe. By the way, Debbie just got back from his Chippendale's gig, so I gotta go."


Dialogue: Gutterball.....The Next Line: Pacatrue

5 comments:

stick and move said...

I know this is a snippet taken from the middle of a chapter so we don't really know the context, even with your brief set-up, but it took me several reads to figure out it's Mike's POV. As it stands, you definitely need some attribution, just a couple of dialogue tags to orient the reader.

This was confusing and perhaps unnecessary:

Silence. She folded Ivy into her pajamas, then sat her on the closed toilet lid to brush out the mess of curls while they were still wet and manageable.

"How do you do that?"

"How long have I known you, kiddo?"

"Yeah, yeah. Don't rub it in."

Rub what in? That they've known each other all their lives? It doesn't make sense in this context, perhaps in the story it does, but take a look and see if some or all of that can come out.

Likewise, you could tighten this sentence, a smile turning into a grin doesn't create a clear image.

You have a good pace and imagery, but in my humble opinion, you could tighten it and make it stronger. Now here's two cents. Spend it wisely.

Dave said...

I'm finding it very hard to figure out what these dialogs mean. I'm not that good.

I wonder why you separate the dialog with descriptions to indicate the speaker rather than use dialog tags?

try this as an exersize - make all the spoken words BOLD FACE and see if you can move them together.

Another trick is to color one person's text blue, the other's text red. and then look to see if that is the way your conversation is supposed to flow through the two people.

One last question, when this conversation is finished, what does the reader know that he/she didn't know before the conversation started?

Anonymous said...

I've bathed toddlers and talked on phones, but never both at once. How the heck do you do that? A headset would work, I guess, but anything else is dangerous, requires three hands, or gives you a pulled neck muscle. So maybe it was a headset.

McKoala said...

I wonder if this has been trimmed for EE because it is a bit hard to follow at times. I did figure out that 'don't rub it in' was a reference to age (was it?!), but I had a 'huh' moment. Yes, the bath and the toddler - not easy. Speakerphone?

I did think the names were weird and the continuation nailed that!

bunnygirl said...

I was thinking the same thing about the toddler and how Mike was managing to have a deep phone conversation at the same time.

Ivy must be one docile little kid, or else there's a headset or speakerphone thing going on here.

Mike also manages to come off as a pious know-it-all. Perhaps the larger context mitigates this, or maybe it was the intent all along. I only mention it in passing, in case it's something the author didn't intend.