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Here’s a quick sketch of a teenage boy with problems at home and at school. Just under 100 words. This writer didn’t start writing about him from purely his side of things. To show who and what he is up against she began the piece this way, with Ramon’s mother speaking first.

“What does she mean by this?”
“I don’t know Mom, she just wrote it.”
“You’re in her class. Who should know? Me?”
“No—”
“—Damn right, no.” Mom bends, reaching into the fridge, “So what does she mean—” Slap. “In spite of yourself?” The lunch-meat hits the table. “Is that a crack, Ramon?”
“I don’t know, Mom.”
“Well, we’ll see about this. You can bet on it mister.”
There are things I’d like to say to her. But I kept quiet. Ducking the sounds of Mom roughing up our lunches as she stuffed them into little brown bags.

As far as story telling goes:

    • Did you notice that Ramon doesn’t have the best lines in this exchange?
    • That there are none of the usual ‘He said, she said, I said’ attributes here?
    • That action is intermixed in the Mom’s dialogue to convey her state of mind and mood?

Think about edits to your work that do this type of telling dialogue.


Here’s a link to the full lesson on my Bridge to Story blog
About Author E. J. Runyon

I'm the author of CLAIMING ONE, a short story collection, and TELL ME (HOW TO WRITE) A STORY: Good Basic Advice for Novices Ready to Write, a guide for novice writers. I also coach, and I’m the creator of BridgetoStory.com, a writing service providing online instruction to new writers. I've coached writers as individuals and in small groups since 1997.
My main goal for students is facilitating their own innate skills; bridging that space between what they have in mind and heart, and what is on their page.
My subtle gifts of heart and imagination allow me to enter easily into the inner world of others. I have the ability to 'midwife' images and intuitions and my empathy and intuitive feelings of unity form the cornerstone of my Bridge to Story coaching program.

Comments on my style of coaching:

"E.J. has done much more than prove to me that writing is a mosaic skill, worthy of a myriad of effort, but also that it is a sharp-bladed pillow from which we all draw a precise dream."
~ V. Pittsenbargar
“E.J.’s done exactly what I wanted and been searching for. Help about story telling and the English language. Not just in punctuation, or grammar. But about the craft. I wanted to get my readers more engaged in my story. In swoops E.J to save the day.”
~ D.Chapman
“I'm glad I found E.J., she's a wonderful coach. It's like being a kid getting on a bike for the first time, and realizing what the pedals do. The revisions I'm doing now are helping me tell the story that I want to tell.”
~ C.Murphy