Writing Exercise: Telling It Slant

Part One: A&B—Tell a story and present two characters through dialogue alone.

“Hi, hi! Come in, come in! How was the drive?”

“Fine, roads are clear, traffic’s light.”

“I started a roast last night, oh, it’s been making the house smell wonderful, don’t you think?”

“Smells great, yeah.”

“You can smell through that… Come in, sit down! What’ve you got there?”

“I just picked up some… you know. Happy Mother’s Day.”

“Oh, they’re lovely! Thank you so much. I’ll put them right in the center of the table. The problem with this breed is that you’ve got to do so much to preserve them. I’m just going to soak them with a tablet, but if you really want to make them last, you have to snip them at an angle and pan-sear them. That keeps them looking nicer longer.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“No, no, they’re lovely! Here, you sit down and I’ll get you… what would you like to drink?”

“Water’s fine.”

“I’ve got Crystal Light and Pepsi Light. There’s some prune juice, but I don’t think you’d want that.”

“Water’s fine, honestly.”

“So tell me what’s been going on! How’s work going? Is that the thing you wear for your job?”

“Yeah, this is the Shane. It’s just built for, you know, my−”

“Shane? Is that his suit?”

“No, it’s the name of the BigSuit, the model. It lets me−”

“Does everyone in your office have one of those?”

“Not everyone. Half the office is scalotypical, but guys like me, yeah, we use the Shane or the Kitabi. Here, look, this is interesting. This is my router and VPN, and it comes with 2TB of−”

“Did I tell you that Dolores finally returned to Bingo? She’s been out for three weeks because of her hip surgery, but she showed up last night just as good as new. That is to say, obviously none of us are getting any younger, but she was just puttering around on these new… They’re like crutches, but they have a kind of netting up in the armpits, here, so they don’t crush your blood vessels or anything like that. She had to train with them for two weeks before her surgery! Have you heard of anything like this?”

“I don’t do much with hospitals.”

“I suppose you wouldn’t need crutches like that, huh? Just cart around inside that head of yours.”


“Can I get you anything? I got a few loaves of day-old bread from that bakery in the strip mall. It’s still perfectly fresh. Sometimes I think they just bake it fresh and put it in the day-old basket just to get people in there, you know? Doesn’t that sound clever of them?”

“Not sure that’s a tenable business model.”

“Oh, you don’t know how it is out here, out of the fancy city with all those self-driving cars and nonsense. Are you really happy out there? Aren’t you lonely? You know, I can empty my crafts room and put a bed in there, if you ever want to come back and move in. It’d be an hour commute for you, but that’s not too bad. You can read on the bus. When I was working I finished a novel a week on the bus. I was reading that thriller writer, what’s his name?”

“I have no idea.”

“Oh, sure you do, he’s huge. Everyone’s heard of him. You know, he wrote that one about the government agents who were… Well, I couldn’t quite follow that one, but it really was gripping. I just couldn’t put it down! Who was that?”

“Seriously, no idea.”

“What are you reading these days?”

Vanish in the Beginning. Takaoka Sui.”

“Hmm. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Mr. Sui.”

“Sui’s her given name.”

“Maybe Dolores knows him, I’ll ask next week at Bingo. I’m just going to check on the roast. Can I get you anything while I’m up? It’s so hard to get up these days, ha ha, I just like to lie down on the couch and get settled in. I was napping when you drove down. I was kind of expecting you an hour earlier, but I didn’t want to bother you with getting my text message while you were probably driving, so I just took a little nap. I noticed you came down here alone today. Is everything, um, going okay?”

“Yes, it’s fine.”

“What about that girl you were dating? Dana something?”

“Dana Townsend. She’s busy today.”

“Is she? What does she do, again?”

“She does social media and events for Caligula Brewery.”

“Oh, that’s right, she’s a bartender. Or a bar wench? Is that what they call girls like her?”

“No, she’s a trained and educated professional who−… Bar wench? Seriously? Did you just say that?”

“Well, I don’t know what you kids find popular these days. Just the other day, I was watching a TV show−”

“And what do you mean, girls like her?”

“Well, you know how she dresses.”

“And she’s not a girl, she’s a woman. I’m not dating a girl.”

“Oh, calm down, anyone younger than 40 is a little girl in my book. Don’t take it personally.”

“Actually, this is why she didn’t want to come down. You really hurt her feelings last time she was here, on New Year’s.”

“She didn’t want to come down? I thought you said she was busy. Well, if that’s the kind of person she is, after I showed her some decent hospitality. Perhaps she never grew up with anything like that.”

“You were incredibly rude to her! I was deeply embarrassed for her.”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this! What in the world are you talking about? I was nothing but civil and kind and warm to her. I can’t imagine many people in her life have shown her as much civility.”

“You couldn’t stop talking about her breasts. It was incredibly embarrassing.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean. Why would I want to talk about another woman’s breasts?”

“In the restaurant? Remember? You kept making little jokes about her knocking things over?”

“I never.”

“And the waiter. When he asked us if we needed anything to drink, I couldn’t believe you made that comment about milk.”

“Well, you have to admit they’re awfully large boobs. They were sticking out all over the place.”

“They weren’t sticking out all over the place! She was wearing a sweater and a jacket. She looked nicer than anyone in that restaurant.”

“No, I just mean that they were enormous. It was like she was holding a child in her arms, although I’d never shake a child like she showed off her goods. I can’t even think of… well, you must get lost in them entirely.”

“Astonishing! I can’t have her visit, can I? This is how you’re going to be.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? What have I done? I’m not the one jiggling my boobies for all the guys to see. Honestly, it just seems a little desperate, is all.”

“She’s fluent in Russian and intermediate in Italian. She’s a classically trained contralto. Her poetry is regularly published in two literary journals. She graduated summa cum laude and was headhunted away from her publishing company to put one of the most successful breweries in Fairview on the map. But none of that matters to you: all you can talk about is the size of her tits, like a goddamned teenager.”

“I’ll thank you not to take the Lord’s name in vain.”

“Don’t you get sanctimonious on me. I won’t put up with it.”

“There’s surgery for that kind of thing, you know. Did she read that article I sent you, about lower back pain? Did she thank me for that? I bet not.”

“Her body is none of your business. She was born that way, it wasn’t some choice you get to judge her about.”

“I’m sure.”

“What are you implying?”

“Nothing. The roast’ll be ready in half an hour. Let’s go watch some TV. You can help me with my crossword, you’re so good at crosswords.”

“Get back here. Are you trying to say that she got surgery to augment her breasts−”

“Honestly, this conversation.”

“−or that she needs surgery to get them reduced? Are you even listening to yourself?”

“I’m sure she loves the attention she’s getting with them, but she’s really going to feel it when she gets to be my age. But I suppose you wild and carefree kids don’t think you’ll ever get to be in my place in life.”

“Why should she get surgery to please you? Why don’t you get surgery to please her?”

“I am going in for surgery next month, which you’d know if you ever read my emails. I’m getting my right wrist done. I went in for carpal tunneling, but the doctor said there’s something else going on in there, and then he checked my other wrist and I’ve got it there too. Some kind of calcification or something? Everything’s getting very thick and tight, so I can hardly wiggle my fingers at all, see? Here, pick up that tray of cheese and crackers if you would. My wrists are acting up and I’m afraid I’d drop them. I got that cheese on sale…”

Image by Artdikaya.

4 thoughts on “Writing Exercise: Telling It Slant

  1. “Heteromorphic”? Hmm. What else did you consider? I mean, “hetero” and “homo” refer to a relationship; why would the majority scale be considered “different?”

    Makes me wonder what Peter-Dinklage-sized people in Fairview think of (and call) Tinies.

    Excellent caricature of Denial Mom. “Their son was born Tiny!” ought to be a staple of sewing circle gossip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm… I wasn’t thinking very hard on that point. “Homomorphic” would’ve made more sense. I was thinking of another term, typing too fast, and I don’t go back and edit until I upload to publish. And just now I had to learn what was the correct (or currently unoffensive) term for people with dwarfism: it’s either “little people” or “people with dwarfism.” But that would be interesting, how the public attitude shifts regarding people with dwarfism in the rise of Tinies. And what would they be, “people with micromorphism”? There’s a lot I’ve been awfully glib about, but writing about this world so much slowly raises these specific questions. Which, in turn, just suggests more stories. Why wouldn’t a person with dwarfism purchase a baker’s dozen of micromorphs and use them for a power trip? Or even a homomorph who arranges a threesome with these. (Those stories will probably go straight to GiantessWorld…)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If we’re sticking with Greek roots, “megethotypical” is close, but “scalotypical” is probably a bit more wieldy. Etymologically, it’s the same as “normal-sized,” but it carries the clinical euphemism to keep everyone on their toes (and not underfoot).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh yeah, our glorious language is littered with misappropriated prefices, suffices, and Latin/Greek hybridization that defy patterning across parallel usage. It just takes BuzzFeed mentioning “scalotypical” and it doesn’t matter how Vox or Mental Floss insists that “megethotypical” is technically correct. It just becomes an ax for the linguists to grind every other year, along with “could care less” thinkpieces.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.