Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Therese Travis: Dialogue, Character and the Power of Flutterling Little Hearts

Valentine’s Day--the day is coming, promising a peak in candy, balloon and flower sales. Diamonds and restaurants share in the bounty. Singles celebrate at anti-Valentine’s parties, couples watch to make sure their significant other picks up the hints and makes good. Imagine the dancing conversations the walls hear--I saw the sweetest bracelet when I was window shopping with the girls today. Or the table saw--or the shoes--yeah, this isn’t dancing so much.
Or, the guy who dumped me last month is going out with my cousin’s best friend now and if I see them out on Valentine’s Day--

Okay, now we’re getting interesting. A list of things I want is soporific, while threats guarantee excitement to come.

Here’s a challenge: take your main character, and what he or she would do in both these situations. What would he want as a gift from his wife? What would he do to give her hints without coming right out and asking? What would she do if she found out the man she’s crushed on for the last three years is dating a good friend? What would she say to show him he’d chosen the wrong girl?

Now put your couple at the restaurant--present-less, dateless, out with someone else (oh, but she got the gift the man at the neighboring table has been coveting for months), and he looks over at her, and spills his coke, and she says:

It’s up to you. I’m just throwing ideas out at you.

Show their sterling characters through their words. But who says, honestly, over a plateful of red beef and baked potato, “My darling, you’ve picked such a wonderful man. Me. I am the best you will ever find.” (I’ve never read dialog that bad, but it’s come close.)

Instead, you’ve got to get him humbly talking about his “save the cat” moment, because unless his mother has cornered the girl and told her in detail how he rescued the poor thing from under the wheels of a bus going fifty and about to smash it, (and who says she’ll believe said mother, because, after all, isn’t a mother’s goal to get him the best possible girl?), the only way she’s going to find out is by listening to him.

Her: You’ve got a cat? Last time I checked, you hated cats.

Him: She found me, actually.

Her: Tell me about it.

Him: She thought I wanted her to follow me home.

Her: Laughing: You had tuna in your coat pocket?

Him: Shaking his head: I think she just had nowhere else to go. She thought a bus wheel well was a great place, but it moved.

Her: And?

Him: And. Yeah, now I’ve got a cat.

Her: What’s she look like?

Him: An exploded pillow. With claws attached.

Her: You really love her, don’t you?

Him: Naw. I just need a pillow. She ripped up all my others.

Her: You didn’t have to let her live with you.

Him: Like I said, she had nowhere else to go.

Her: Nowhere better, you mean.

Him: She’s all fluff and needles. No brains. She has no idea she’s got better options than me.

Her: She had a wheel well, didn’t she? I think you’re a softie.

Him: So does she.

Not sure I can do as well with those gifts, but that girl who got dumped? And now she and her friends see him present that single red rose to her cousin’s best friend? I’m sure she doesn’t want to come off as bitter, scorned and dangerous, but since that pretty much describes her--well, it’s up to you. What does she say?

In the community of Avalon on Catalina Island, a psychopath is kidnapping children and perfectly posing and painting the bodies of adult victims to resemble disabled artist, Robin Ingram.

Robin struggles with feelings of imperfection, and knowing some madman has a macabre agenda—which includes fixing her—is unsettling. She’s relieved when paramedic Sam Albrecht steps up to help.

Sam believes he knows the identity of the killer, and he wants nothing more than to prove it in order to keep Robin out of danger. Then Sam is arrested as a suspect for the crimes, and Robin’s life is thrown into a fresh whirlwind. She may not know who the real killer is, but she does know Sam is innocent…and she will find the proof to set him free, or she’ll die trying.

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