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Thread: Peep Show Girl

  1. #1
    Ronda Hamilton

    Peep Show Girl

    *adult subject matter* Hoping for feedback, harsh is fine.

    “Good afternoon,” the state psychologist smiled tightly. She shook hands with the patient, and nodded toward the couch.
    Amber’s shake was cold, limp and lacking in commitment. She sat down on the couch and looked around. The office was barely an improvement over the cell they called her ‘room’. She wondered why everything in the state mental hospital had to be shades of grey; as if color alone could set the residents off.
    “Can I smoke?” she asked, knowing the answer before the question left her lips.
    “I’m afraid not, but we can take cigarette breaks a few times a day. Out in the yard if you like?”
    “Alright,” Amber shrugged as if the thought of going out to the yard didn’t make her want to cry with relief.
    “Are you comfortable?”
    “Yeah,” she looked around the room, trying to remember the last time someone asked her how she felt. Someone without a needle in one hand.
    “Then let’s get started. I’ll give you the ground rules and then we’ll take it from there. As usual, anything you tell me in this room will be shared with hospital staff and with the courts. Do you understand that anything you share is not confidential?”
    “Yes, I understand. But, what if you decide I’m not crazy? Will I go to prison?”
    “No. You are here to get better. If the doctors on staff determine that you’re healthy, you’ll be released.”
    Amber rolled her eyes. She knew that was never going to happen.
    “We’ll begin with a basic intake assessment. Many of these questions are background information which is already in our files, but I need to ask them to…”
    “You need to find out if I know who I am,” Amber cut the doctor off.
    “Well yes. This part of the interview should only take a few minutes, okay?”
    “Fine whatever, let’s just do this.”
    The psychologist tipped her head and smiled. “Very well then. Your full name?”
    “Amber. Barns.”
    “You think I don’t know my age?”
    The psychologist looked over the ridge of her glasses at Amber, and raised her eyebrow slightly.
    “Twenty-nine,” Amber said.
    “Your date of birth?”
    “Four days from now. Why? You want to buy me a cake?”
    The psychologist set her notepad and pen on the desk behind her and leaned forward in her chair. “Amber, you know you don’t have to do this. I’m not here to make your life more difficult. My understanding was that you knew why the state wanted to conduct this interview and that you were voluntarily here. Is that incorrect?”
    “No, I want to do this, I just don’t understand why you need to ask me things like this; my name and age. You know who I am, and you know I’m not crazy.”
    “You were found ‘not guilty by reason of mental deficiency’, so we have to proceed accordingly. This will take five minutes, tops.”
    “Fine. October 21st, 1979.”
    “Today’s date?”
    “October 17th, 2009.”
    “Who is currently the President of the United States?”
    “Obama. Barrack Obama.”
    “What is the name of this hospital?”
    “Why are you here?”
    “Could you elaborate please?”
    Amber studied the doctor. “What do you want to know? How many? Why I did it?”
    “No, not right now. I just need your basic understanding of why you’re here.”
    “I killed people. I went to jail. The shrink said I was crazy. My lawyer told me it was this, or prison; I chose this. I’m starting to think I made the wrong choice. I hear they leave you alone in prison.”

  2. #2
    sam albion

    Re: Peep Show Girl

    two words... steig larrson...

  3. #3
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: Peep Show Girl

    “Good afternoon,” the state psychologist smiled tightly.

    Nope, you can't use "smiled" as a dialog tag. Only "said" or a synonym of it, which is really common sense when you think about it.

  4. #4
    Cindy Kay

    Re: Peep Show Girl


    Your opening graph places us with the therapist and the second with the patient. Since the rest of the piece is all with the patient, I'd open with her as well.

    You've got several punctuation issues -- semicolons where they don't belong, missing commas.

    Amber looks around the room twice. You only need the first one, and often not even that. If we're in a character's head and you start describing the room, we assume the character-looking bit.

    Like Mutt said, you can't just use movements and expressions as dialogue tags.

    “Good afternoon,” the state psychologist smiled tightly...
    “Alright,” Amber shrugged as if the thought ...
    “Yeah,” she looked around the room, trying to remember

    You have to either place the bits after an attribution or use a separate sentence. "Yeah," she said, looking around the room..." or "Yeah." She looked around the room.

    Hope that helps.

  5. #5
    J. Herrick

    Re: Peep Show Girl

    That's curious because I like the "smiled tighly". It gives me a vivid picture of what he is doing. (I would make it its own sentence though. "Good afternoon" The psychologist smiled tightly.)

    I am not one to hold to strict guidlines though. I think a lot can be lost by 'following the rules'.

    I like it!

  6. #6
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: Peep Show Girl

    Come on, J, even if English is a second language you should realize it doesn't make sense to use an action as a dialog tag. The function of the tag is to indicate who is SPEAKING, not anything else they're doing. As Cindy indicated if you want the "smiled tightly" or any other action you include it afterward. There's a time to break or ignore rules, but that's not one of them. If you give it to an agent in that form you'll instantly be branded an amateur and get a quick form rejection. And as the saying goes, you have to know the rules before you can break them.

  7. #7
    J. Herrick

    Re: Peep Show Girl

    Pardon, you must have read through my response quickly. I did say that I would make it into a separate sentence.
    I also said I liked it, not that it was correct. One can like something without it being correctly done.

  8. #8
    Gary Kessler

    Re: Peep Show Girl

    You said you'd make it into a separate sentence, J. (which would be OK, if a bit awkward: "Good afternoon." The psychologist was smiling tightly.), but your example didn't make it two sentences. (A period was missing.)

  9. #9
    J. Herrick

    Re: Peep Show Girl

    Whoops! You are right! My fingers do not work as quickly as my brain it seems. Thank you for pointing that out.

  10. #10
    Beautiful Loser

    Re: Peep Show Girl

    and nodded toward the couch ???

    Grimaced, the state psychologist shakes hands with her patient. "Good afternoon."

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