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May 30th, 2007, 02:09 PM
I signed up for these forums a while ago, and just recently got time to start writing again. I've got one idea that I'd like to go with, but when I started diving into it, it feels like there's too much/too unnatural dialogue. In general, any critiques are appreciated. Here's the first little bit:

The village far below hummed with preparations for the celebration, but Tyler turned away from the artificial lights towards the brilliant sky above. Staring at the stars, he had just begun searching for the fast-moving glow of the Icarus when a rustle disturbed his reverie.
"Got your eye on the sky again, Ty?" said a female voice.
"Think of that all on your own, did you?" Tyler couldn't help but smile at the appearance of Daniella. Though he wanted to be away from the general bustle below, her cheerful and cheeky attitude could always brighten his mood. She pulled herself up onto the platform, and hopped over to sit next to Tyler. Hugging her legs to her chest, she rested her chin on her knees and tried to look pensive.
Tyler lay back against the rough springy wood and resumed his hunt. The Icarus could be seen on most dark, clear nights, and it was fast approaching the darkest time: the next evening would mark the start of the Long Night. Just as the speedy star appeared near the horizon, Daniella again broke the silence.
"So… you excited about the ceremony?” Her slim figure was no more than a dim silhouette in the starlight. Tyler stared at her face, trying to determine her expression before replying.
“I guess so? I don’t know. I mean, this is all going to be over afterwards. I’ve been looking forward to tomorrow ever since I can remember, and now that it’s almost time, don’t really want it to happen. I guess I just don’t like change all that much, is all.”
The platform swayed slightly as a warm gust of wind passed through the forest. They had built the tree fort, he and Daniella, just over three years ago. He remembered struggling to lift the beams that had seemed heavy at the time, refusing to ask any of the adults for help. Now, looking at the spongy wood, it seemed as though he could lift the entire fort without much effort.
Daniella giggled. “You’re too serious all the time. What’s going to change? We’ll still be friends, you’ll still stare off into space way too much, and I’ll still want to go pick Jojoberries next week. They’re going to be ripe any day now, you know.” She stood, steadying herself with one hand on the gently swaying tree trunk. “Come on now, I promised I’d find you and drag you back. They need you to climb up on the roof of the long house and put up the lights.”
Tyler sighed to himself, then stood slowly. Time to go down and face the crowd.

May 30th, 2007, 02:21 PM
it feels like there's too much/too unnatural dialogue.

It seems fine to me - neither too much nor too unnatural. The only part that seemed a bit less smooth to me was "this is all going to be over afterwards" but I think that is probably because I don't have any context for the situation.

May 30th, 2007, 03:26 PM
The dialogue seems fine, perfectly natural.

A few small points...

..but Tyler turned away from the artificial lights towards the brilliant sky above.

Perhaps 'up towards the brilliant sky above' would work better? As it is, it seems he is just turning around, rather than looking up as well. Obviously we know he is looking up at the sky, but without 'up' it doesn't seem quite right.

"Got your eye on the sky again, Ty?" said a female voice.

'...came a female voice' would seem more natural.
Also, perhaps you might want 'a familiar female voice', as obviously he would recognise it (maybe even 'a well-known female voice'). But perhaps not, as it might spoil the effect of his come-back, which by itself reveals he knows exactly who it is.

...her cheerful and cheeky attitude could always brighten his mood.

Is the aliteration intentional? It seems a bit out of place. I would much prefer just 'her cheerful attitude' (or maybe 'her cheeful manner' would sound better), or if you want two adjectives, perhaps 'cheerful optimistic attitude'.

"So… you excited about the ceremony?”
Is this ceremony a regular thing, or is it a new one-off thing? If its regular, would she refer to it as 'the ceremony'? Something like 'the festival' or 'the carnival' seems more natural. Is it a religious ceremony? I wouldn't refer to that as a ceremony, but rather a 'service' perhaps. If its a fun event, consider 'festival', 'carnival', 'feast', or maybe even just 'party'.
If it IS something out-of-the-ordinary, or something once-in-a-lifetime, such as the coronation of a king, then ceremony works just fine.

They need you to climb up on the roof of the long house and put up the lights.

I think 'get on the roof', 'go on the roof' would seem more natural, it seems like she is describing it for the reader rather than Tyler, which is unnatural. In fact, I don't think she even needs to describe the house. I reckon 'They need you to get on the roof and put up the lights' would seem much more natural, and doesn't really hold back any important information from the reader.

May 30th, 2007, 08:06 PM
It's always hard to form an opinion of such a small excerpt . . . but the dialogue itself did not seem so problematic, although there certainly was a lot of exposition. Maybe if you moved some of the explanation of who is who to whom to other passages, it would help the flow of the dialogue. This excerpt, by itself is trying to do too much, trying to say too much.

James Carmack
May 30th, 2007, 08:44 PM
I don't see much problem with the dialog either, though I must ask if "I guess so?" is really meant to be a question.

May 31st, 2007, 09:23 AM
Thanks for all your comments guys - I find I get way too hung up on beginnings. Bethelamon - that "cheerful and cheeky" sentence is one that I struggled with - I wanted to find some way to introduce her as being... peppy? Energetic? Fun? I like "manner" a lot more than "attitude" though, thanks.

As far as "I guess so" being a question, I suppose it's hard for me to read it without putting on the inflection that I have in my head. I meant it to be a question as in he's kind of questioning himself, like he feels like he should be excited but he doesn't really know if he is or not.

May 31st, 2007, 10:07 AM
Thats how I read it. Perhaps you can put something between "I guess so?" and "I don't know" a 'he paused' or whatever. It would make it an easier read.

June 1st, 2007, 11:40 AM
In all honesty, that was one of the better introductions that I have read in some time. You allowed the dialogue to guide the story instead of narraration. Though some would say this is an easy way out, I think that this approach can be a bit intimadting.

To bring characters to life without explaining a back drop is hard for a reader to imagine; but in all honesty, I pictured it perfectly. The dialoge was just fine. I only had one problem, and that was when Ty referred to the rhyme that Daniella made. You should use the sentence before his reply to describe his intention of trying to make light of her choice of words. That was the only part I had to read twice in order to understand what was happening.

In all seriousness, that was a fair start. Don't let anyone force structure down your throat when you have developed a writing style that compliments the nature and description of your characters.

Thanks for the read, I look forward towards reading more of your work.
Feel free to read my short story, "Peril of Providence," which is posted in the stories section of sffworlds.

T.R. Patrick

June 5th, 2007, 08:16 PM
Between the 'village below' and 'sky above'...AND artifical lights... I'm a little spatially confused. Is he inside? Outside? At a window? On a roof? On a hillside but holding a lamp of some kind?

...eye...sky....ty... heh ;)

I would just say "cheeky" without the cheerful... to me cheeky kinda implies cheerfulness

The sky is called "brilliant" at the top, which makes me think bright/shinning/etc but then we found out that it's getting close to the darkest time.

Bonus points for having a tree fort!!

James Carmack
June 5th, 2007, 10:34 PM
"Cheeky" actually means "impudent", though "saucy" might be a better way to describe it in this case.