Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chat it up in Let's Talk Blogfest

Today is the super fabulous Let's Talk Blogfest organized by Roni at Fiction Groupie. More than eighty--yes, 80+ people are signed up to show off dialogue-driven scenes. What a way to get an earful. Come on, let's talk.

I've been working like crazy on revisions of my Sea Daughters novel. For this fest, though, I decided to pull Harper's Stone, a high fantasy, off the shelf and offer up a scene between the protagonist Fiona and her dying great aunt. I'd love to hear if you think it works.
*

*
*
Lady Celia’s eyes fluttered open and her frail hand, dwarfed by its signature ruby ring, reached up to latch onto Fiona’s wrist. Her fingers tightened like a knot in a rope. “Are we alone?”

With a slight nod of her head, Fiona dismissed the servant hovering nearby.

“There is much I should have told you, but I wished you'd become more mature, more in control of your emotions." Lady Celia's voice, though weak, still carried a sting. "Now, I fear I waited too long.”

“Please, don’t speak so, Aunt. The physician will be here soon, and he will set you right again.” Fiona wanted to believe her own words but feared she was about to lose the only relative she had. Then she'd be at the king's mercy.

“Listen carefully. I must give you something before the physician arrives.” Lady Celia let go of Fiona’s wrist and tried to pull off the ruby ring but seemed to lack strength. “Take the ring off. Do it quickly.”

Fiona eased off the gold band set with the enormous stone. It rested in the palm of her hand--a flawless, sparkling gem the color of richest blood held in place by fasteners shaped to resemble clawed fingers. “Where shall I put it, Aunt?”

“Secrete it in your bodice.”

As Fiona hesitated, her great-aunt’s voice cut the air. “Do it. At once. No one must know you have it, just as the harp is your secret. They are your heirlooms and yours alone.” Stringing together several sentences depleted the old woman. She sank into her feather pillow, breathing raggedly.

Fiona bent close to hear a whisper: “Put the ring on a chain and keep it near your heart always. It will help protect you. I believe that to be so. It must be so.”

A chill swept through Fiona. “Please, Aunt, try to rest. The physician is sure to arrive any moment.” She glanced over her shoulder, wishing help would walk in.
“They are coming for me.” Great Aunt Celia sighed, as though at peace.
“Who?” Fiona turned her head again, but there was no one but the two of them.

“My work is done.” The old woman jerked and half-sat before dropping back against the pillow. “But, no, I didn’t prepare you enough. I leave you helpless as a fawn without a mother.”
At the word ‘mother,’ Fiona felt that old chasm in her open—the longing and hurt. This could be her last chance to find out what had been kept from her. “My mother. Was she your niece? What was her name? What became of her?”

Lady Celia’s eyes, which had been staring at nothing, focused on Fiona again. “There can be no harm in telling you now, but you mustn't share it with anyone. Ever. I'm not your blood relative, at all. I'm a guardian. Your family--their names, their history--all passed from this world.”

An ache blossomed in Fiona’s chest. What little she thought she knew about who she was vanished. She felt like the empty shell of a bird’s egg, lying broken and wiped clean of whatever had been there.
*

58 comments:

Wen Prior said...

Ooh I love it. Intriguing, and I would very much like to know what happens next. I love the way you've used actions instead of tags and your descriptions are spot on, as always.

For some reason the first sentence really set the tone for me. Love it :)

Jade said...

I think it works really well. I especially LOVED the last line. Like, really loved it.
Although, I was hoping to get a little mermaid action!!

Wendy aka Quillfeather said...

Loved it. Especially the first sentence!

Well done, you :)

Piedmont Writer said...

Oh how beautiful, especially the last sending. Very nicely done for a death scene.

propinquity said...

Tricia, this was beautiful. I'm in agreement with the others on that last image of feeling like a broken and empty bird's egg. Breathtaking.

Mary Anne Gruen said...

I love high fantasy and I love this! I'd love to hear more about your Sea Daughters novel too. It sounds like you write just the kind of stories I'm interested in.

storyqueen said...

I think you've posted a snippet or two from this book before....I truly love it! I think it's really worth revisiting.

What I love about this scene isn't just what they say, it's the way they say it. Each of your characters has a distinct voice.

You also do a nice job of relaying their actions throughout the piece. They flow is very nice.

Well done, you!

Shelley

laurel said...

I like the flow here very much, and how Celia's emotion shifts in the course of the scene, from creeped out to intrigued to sad and defeated. The high-fantasy voice suits you, I think. Nicely done.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Well done! You captured the tone of the genre through the dialog -- I felt transported to another place and time. I was left wanting more :)

Iapetus999 said...

Ooh a mysterious past...and the old lady isn't being very helpful.
Nice dialog!

Tessa Conte said...

Lovely tone and great dialogue!

little hiccup: “Secrete it in your bodice"... 'secrete' means to discharge or produce a fluid or something...I know that's not what you mean but it is the first thing that came to mind...

Charity Bradford said...

Nice! I'm really curious now. How did her family all pass from the world? Hints of danger to come is also nice.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Tessa: Thanks so much for the comment. Secrete has more than one meaning. Another is to hide something, but if it causes readers to think of bodily fluids I shall have to use a different word. :D

Tessa Conte said...

Hi yes sorry I know it is also the correct grammatical form for secret (away) and fits exellently with the tone you use...I have a weird mind, I know. Sorry!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I just want to say I'm having so much fun reading the comments, but I can't respond to each and keep up with reading everyone else's. So please know I love, love, love the responses.

Abby Annis said...

This is so intriguing! I'm dying to know the secret about Fiona's family and what the ring means to her. Great job! :)

Only thing that threw me was secrete. I know it has more than one meaning, but the one I thought of first probably wasn't what you were going for. ;)

Falen said...

oh we don't see a lot of high fantasy any more!
loved the last line so much!

Julie Dao said...

I LOVE your writing. This was a very tense and emotional scene. Can't wait to read this when it's in book form ;)

Liza said...

I am intrigued. Fantastic!

Amalia T. said...

That last line of description is just perfect here. I definitely think this scene works. Fiona seems agonized over this impending loss, and Celia sounds and seems desperate to impart the last bits of help she can. Well done!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Tricia, a moving scene. And the last sentence is beautiful and sums up the passage nicely. I, too, stumbled on secretes. Even though it has two meanings, it's #1meaning, imho, refers to an ooziness that does not belong here!

I wonder if it's too late to participate in this fest....hmmm probably so.
Gotta run!

Suzanne Casamento said...

The tone is dire and mysterious. You do a great job of setting the stakes with, "Then she'd be at the King's mercy."

Enough said, right? ;)

Great scene! Like Yvonne, I'm wondering if it's too late to participate too. What fun!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Suzanne & Yvonne: Not too late! Head on over to Roni's and sign up.

Tara said...

Ohhh, this scene works very well. Intriguing. The dialog was well-done to boot :)

VR Barkowski said...

Beautifully done. Excellent dialogue and the last line is stunning. I want (need!) to know how and why Fiona's family "passed from this world."

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Such a sad scene. Really pulled me in. Great job!

Thanks for participating!

Kate Haggard said...

You have me wondering two things - what happens next and why did you ever shelve it? The dialogue certainly carries us through your lovely prose, giving just enough to tantalize.

Amy Jo Lavin said...

Very nicely done. I'm curious about the ruby. And why they're coming for her. Great job!

Shelley Sly said...

How powerful! I found myself holding my breath reading this, hoping for the best for Fiona. Wow... so many questions raised in my mind here. Well done!

Lovy Boheme said...

Loved the imagery here. I especially loved the line "fingers tightened like a knot in a rope." Fantastic.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Again, thank you, thank you, for all these fabulous comments and the new visitors! I'm reading them all but not writing responses because I'm trying to read all 100+ fest entries. Whew, we've got a lot to say and some of it knocks my socks clear off.

Jemi Fraser said...

Poor Fiona! I hope she's able to find a way to control her own destiny & find out her past! Nice job of pulling us in :)

Laraine Eddington said...

Your use of language is nice-- gives an old world feel to your scene. I'm intrigued.

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, I'm really intrigued now! I want to know about her past, what the ring and the harp stand for, everything!

KayKay said...

I'm so intrigued! It's just so mysterious. And very well written. Love it!

Susan Fields said...

Love this scene! My entry is high fantasy, too - yours is the only other one I've seen.

Does she ever find out who her mother is? I love a good mystery!

C R Ward said...

This was beautifully written! I especially love the last line.

Donna Hole said...

What a poignant last line. Such devastation. The dialogue works really well; draws me into the mystery, and is highly emotive.

Well done Tricia.

........dhole

Roland D. Yeomans said...

She felt like the empty shell of a bird’s egg, lying broken and wiped clean of whatever had been there.

Great last line.

"Are we alone?" Great opening as well.

Agents and publishers look at things like that. And I beleive they would be impressed with them and the ones in between.

You enticed the reader, heightened the suspence, and made me want to turn the page to keep reading, Roland

Margo Berendsen said...

hhmmmmn, for some reason when Celia says "your family - their names, their history - all passed from this world" I got the impression that didn't just mean death - it meant something more. Very intrigued. A good scene to hook a reader.

sharongerlach said...

Hi, Tricia! I thought this was very well done. I would definitely read more and I'm not much of a fantasy fan.

Donna said...

I'm with Jade. I was surprised to read about the mysterious Fiona, when I expected mermaids. I love your writing whether you're in a castle or under the sea. Good scene, very evocative.

Tina Lynn said...

How very sad. It does work. I wonder now how much trouble Fiona is in. Lady Celia seems so distressed about it. Nicely done:)

Christina Lee said...

I got sucked right in!!! The last paragraph is wonderful!

Kristen said...

This scene was amazing! I was pulled right into it. Your descriptions were really good. I want to know what happens next!

stu said...

I like this a lot. It was very powerfully written.

Jojomama said...

Wooo. Neat scene. So curious now! I really love that last paragraph. Lovely and sad.

Thanks for the comment on my blog! (=

Mia said...

Wow, enchanting. I really want to know what happens now! Brilliant dialogue :)

C. Michael Fontes said...

Oh my gosh I want to read more!!

Valerie said...

Good work and good set up for the problems to come. I feel like I'm saying this a bunch but I think you could cut some visual cues and focus on the dialogue more. Their voices are nice and distinct and their actual words work well enough to provide some of the emotional content that you reference. The last line is indeed great; what a terrible thing to be left alone with the knowledge that even the family you had wasn't really related.

Georgia said...

I really loved this. The last line was lovely.

Bookewyrme said...

"Her fingers tightened like a knot in a rope."

Great line! It's a totally new metaphor (analogy?) to me. I really enjoyed the old lady's voice. Too bad she's dying!

~Lia

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Beautiful as always. I completely forgot about the blogfest.
*sigh*

#Karenfail

Genie of the Shell said...

Ouch! This sure is an emotionally charged scene. As many others did, I liked the last line. I don't know if you'll agree, but I might even change the word "wiped" to "sucked" clean--because a broken, empty bird's egg is usually that way because some animal came and sucked out the insides. It's a slightly more visceral, icky image for how she must be feeling. Just my two cents.

PJ Hoover said...

Whoa, how fun, Tricia. Thanks for sharing it! It's nice to see dialogue done well.

Linda Kage said...

Aww. What a said ending to the scene. But it was so vivid. I loved reading it. Thanks for sharing.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Uusally I respond to everyone, but this was overwhelming with reading all the entries, so I'll just shout out: THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. THESE COMMENTS ARE WONDERFUL.

kanishk said...

Loved it. Especially the first sentence!
post free classifieds