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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dialogue Crit: me in the hot seat

All right, have at it guys!

Title: Disciple, Part IV: Salt in the Wound
Genre: Gritty fantasy romance... I think
Background: Kate, our narrator, is a magical healer. Elect is her current rank.

“Those are all down-slope, though,” Theo told me, with a flick of his hand, “and they’re certainly not Elect.”

“Does that matter?” I had to ask.

“The king’s own physician is worth a bit more than some common herb-brewer. And Elect — well, you can steal a man from under the Shepherd’s knife. Everyone knows that.”

I opened my mouth to object — dead was dead, and nothing to be done about it, even for saints — but Theo shot a look at Anders and I was sure he knew something of what had happened at the lamia’s fount. And what Saint Qadeem had said about letting people wonder echoed in my memory.

“You say I should charge more,” I said instead. “Elect Parselev charged nothing at all, sir.”

Theo nodded. “He had no children and no rent to pay, though. No husband with a half-tame warhorse and a habit of breaking lances on friends.”

“At least I didn’t drop it.”

“Rent?” That was the part my ear caught on.

“There’s house just up the street that would suit you,” Theo said. “It’s been standing empty a couple years now, but I can have it cleaned and I can bring in carpenters to rearrange it to suit you. You’re going to need about a crown and a half, all told, and I can set the rent at,” and here he tipped his head to consider, “two crescents a moon, which is a pittance for the location. I can loan you the crown and a half, if that’s what you want, and I’ll lower the repayment to two crowns sixteen crescents as I’m still soft in the head from that foul hit.”

Anders snorted into his tea mug.

“But.” Theo raised one finger. “I’d rather give you three crowns — not a loan — and let you pay me one brun of every five you earn, instead.”

Three crowns? Not a loan? And one brun of five, if I were charging…

I still figured on that as Theo leaned over and clicked a latch by his foot. Metal clinked and my eyes caught on three disks of solid sunlight that he dropped on his desk. Casual as if they were of little matter. I’d never even laid eyes on a gold crown coin before.

“Theo.” Anders chided.

Theo spread his hands. “I never bluff. Though you’re right, that’s too greedy. With this stipulation: after twenty years, the obligation expires and if I wish to re-invest — or if my children wish to, should, Mother forbid, the Shepherd call me home — we will discuss the matter afresh.”

Was that such a difference? “How is that less greedy, sir?”

He hesitated. “For if it’s left open-ended, and… well, true, not all Elect live so long but this is no place for such dark thoughts.”

2 comments:

mshatch said...

“Those are all down-slope, though,” Theo told me, with a flick of his hand, “and they’re certainly not Elect.” NOT SURE TO WHAT THEO IS REFERRING BUT I'LL ASSUME IT WAS REFERENCED PRIOR TO THIS BIT.

“Does that matter?” I had to ask.

“The king’s own physician is worth a bit more than some common herb-brewer. And Elect — well, you can steal a man from under the Shepherd’s knife. Everyone knows that.”

I opened my mouth to object — dead was dead, and nothing to be done about it, even for saints — but Theo shot a look at Anders and I was sure he knew something of what had happened at the lamia’s fount. And what Saint Qadeem had said about letting people wonder echoed in my memory. THIS LAST SENTENCE CONFUSED ME. I THINK IT COULD BE RE-WRITTEN MORE SIMPLY - OR MAYBE I NEED MORE COFFEE...

“You say I should charge more,” I said instead. “Elect Parselev charged nothing at all, sir.”

Theo nodded. “He had no children and no rent to pay, though. No husband with a half-tame warhorse and a habit of breaking lances on friends.”

“At least I didn’t drop it.”

“Rent?” That was the part my ear caught on.

“There’s house just up the street that would suit you,” Theo said. “It’s been standing empty a couple years now, but I can have it cleaned and I can bring in carpenters to rearrange it to suit you. You’re going to need about a crown and a half, all told, and I can set the rent at,” and here he tipped his head to consider, “two crescents a moon, which is a pittance for the location. I can loan you the crown and a half, if that’s what you want, and I’ll lower the repayment to two crowns sixteen crescents as I’m still soft in the head from that foul hit.”

Anders snorted into his tea mug.

“But.” Theo raised one finger. “I’d rather give you three crowns — not a loan — and let you pay me one brun of every five you earn, instead.”

Three crowns? Not a loan? And one brun of five, if I were charging…

I still figured on that as Theo leaned over and clicked a latch by his foot. Metal clinked and my eyes caught on three disks of solid sunlight that he dropped on his desk. Casual as if they were of little matter. I’d never even laid eyes on a gold crown coin before. LIKE HOW YOU INSERT THIS BIT ABOUT $.

“Theo.” Anders chided.

Theo spread his hands. “I never bluff. Though you’re right, that’s too greedy. With this stipulation: after twenty years, the obligation expires and if I wish to re-invest — or if my children wish to, should, Mother forbid, the Shepherd call me home — we will discuss the matter afresh.”

Was that such a difference? “How is that less greedy, sir?” I GET THE SENSE THE NARRATOR IS NAIVE, YES?

He hesitated. “For if it’s left open-ended, and… well, true, not all Elect live so long but this is no place for such dark thoughts.”

INTERESTING EXCERPT. AND THAT LAST LINE MADE ME WONDER...WHAT KIND OF DARK THOUGHTS?

Brooke R. Busse said...

The only comment I have is: In the large paragraph of dialogue where Theo is speaking, you have the phrase "suit you" twice.