[Write On Wednesday] Speak, Don’t Tell

Continuing this month’s theme of Show, Don’t Tell, today I want you to focus on how you can do that in dialogue. 

Missed the first prompt on this month’s theme? Find it here.

Couple holding hands, image
Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

The Prompt

Write a story set in a particular time or place and use dialogue to show us where we are, rather than telling us.

Suggested scenario: two characters who know each other well, but one is keeping a secret.

Tips

Don’t simply have characters say “In olden days people didn’t even drive electric cars” to show that we’re in the future. Look at this example from “The Era” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

We’re in HowItWas class

“Well,” Mr Harper said, twisting is ugly body towards us. “You should shut your mouth because you’re a youth-teen who doesn’t know sh*t about Sh*t and I’m a full-middler who’s been teaching this stuff for more years than I’m proud of.”

The Era, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

You KNOW we’re not in a modern day school, right? The attitudes, the name of the class, the way description of ages…so much “show” and very little “tell”, even though we literally have characters telling each other stuff!

Or in this story when the main character has seen a photograph of her deceased mother in a museum and calls her dad to ask about it.

“She was a looker, wasn’t she? What is it, some kind of—do they call it street photography?”

“No,” I said. I described in euphemism what was occurring int he photo.

“There’s been some mistake,” my father answered, finally, resolutely. “That’s your eyes playing tricks on you.”

Natural Light, Kathleen Alcott

Watch how the father goes from open and generous to shut-down and in denial, without the author have to tell us any of that.

Or in this one, what do you infer about the setting, just from the dialogue?

“Y’all put that gator right back where you found him or I’ll pepper your asses with 177s.”

Hellion, Julia Elliot

Pay attention to how you can use dialogue to tell us things other that what the character mean to tell us.

If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.

Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!



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[Write On Wed] The Stories The Books Tell

This post came from my local independent bookstore yesterday, closed for the moment, but imagining wonderful things. (You can support Reads & Co while they’re closed by ordering from them here)

Reads & Company bookstore image "the books keep themselves company, telling each other stories until you return"
Reposted with permission from bookstore owner and writer Robb Cadigan. He says “Hope people have fun with it”, but reserves first dibs on the idea as kids’ book or published story…

The Prompt

What stories do the books tell each other?

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[Write On Wednesday] Pull Readers into Your Story

This month’s theme at StoryADay is “Show, Don’t Tell”, that pesky little piece of writing advice that sounds so easy and will actually take us the whole month to unpack. It’s more than simply ‘showing’. It’s about using all our senses to immerse the reader in a moment, and it come more easily to some writers than others.

Let’s start practicing with today’s prompt. This week we’ll focus on making the setting immersive. Next week will be about showing through dialogue. The week after that we’ll work on when to ‘show’ and when to ‘tell’.

photo of dining room by matt briney on unsplash.com

The Prompt

Your character walks into a room  and sees something/someone they really, really don’t want to see. How do they solve this dilemma?

Tips

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[Write on Wednesday] Trouble In Paradise

Relationships are tricky – romantic or otherwise – because at the heart of each relationship are two individuals who have expectations, often unspoken, about what they owe to each other.

Photo by Jessica Da Rosa on Unsplash

The Prompt

Write a story in which two close friends, lovers or family members struggle through a difficult moment.

Tips

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[Writing Prompt] What The Greeks Knew About Love

This year during the Superbowl I noticed an ad that used the different types of love, as defined by the Greeks, to advertise their product. And it reminded me that, for those of us without a classical education, it can be useful to review frameworks like this, that underpin our cultural attitudes whether we know it or not. 

eros statue image
Photo by Thomas Vogel on Unsplash

The Prompt

Write a story combining featuring two different types of love relationships from the list. Notice how they interact, how they cause the characters to act, and where those actions are different and similar.

Types of Love

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[Writing Prompt] 3 Aspects of Enduring Love

This month’s theme is Love: It’s Not Just For The Ladies. I’m going to be looking into all kinds of love and how our characters feel, express and reject it. Starting with this week’s writing prompt.

couple holding hands illustration
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The Prompt

Write three, linked mini-stories about two people who love each other.
Each moment illustrating one of the three aspects of enduring love: Intimacy, Passion & Commitment.

Each section highlights a different moment.
The overall story charts their relationship.

Tips

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Write On Wednesday – Poetic Inspiration

This week is the anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.  While I’m cooking up some haggis and pouring a whisky in his immortal memory, I have a writing prompt for you that celebrates not just Robert Burns, but all poets.

poetry book and quill

The Prompt

Write a story inspired by a poem

Tips

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[Write On Wednesday] Picture Prompt

Sometimes it takes a traditional writing prompt to get us writing…and that’s perfectly OK. When you could write about absolutely anything, that’s too much choice, and can be paralyzing.

So this month at StoryADay I’m focused on providing prompts and info to get you to your writing as quickly as possible. Today, it’s a picture prompt.

close-up of person tying walking boot. Outdoors, scarf, grass.

The Prompt

Write a story inspired by this picture

Tips

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