Elements of the Writing Craft. Part One, Lesson One: Opening with a Storyteller

For this assignment, I’m working from page 4 of Elements of the Writing Crafty by Robert Olmstead. The writing sample is the intro to Moby Dick by Herman Melville, “Call me Ishmael.” The lesson is to introduce characters in different ways and begin a dialogue with them. I will be introducing Siobhan and Dhoul.

  1. Write a paragraph where you introduce a character to tell a story.
  2. Write an introductory paragraph where the character introduces themselves by stating what they are not.
  3. Write a few lines of dialogue where the characters meet and greet each other. Try to characterize their relationship by their type of greeting.

1.a (Siobhan) “My name is Siobhan. I used to be called by my family name and where I lived. Those details are lost to me now. My people used to cherish their names and proudly recited them when asked. I stopped counting the years before I aged 1,000. I have forgotten much of who I was then but, I still remember the cliff where my life changed and stretched out for a millennium.”

2.a (Siobhan) “My friends call me Siobhan. Others call me the old witch. In truth, I am not a witch. I’m the last of the ancient order of druids. I never achieved the rank of Elder, but I am the last and very old, but not an Elder. And don’t confuse me with those chanting idiots of today, passing themselves off as druids when indeed they’re nothing more than fancy-robed storytellers. Wretched gossips with hardly a scar between them, trafficking in an unearned reputation.”

1.b (Dhoul) “She calls me Dhoul. Most things run from me before they know my name. I grew up on this ridge between these valleys. It was in the old oak grove where she found me and named me. I am the only dragon in this land, or so I’m told and from what I’ve seen.”

2. (Dhoul) “I’m the dragon Dhoul. Not the fire-breathing, treasure-hoarding, princess-stealing type in the tales. I don’t go in for any of that sort of thing but, I have taken livestock not meant for me. She’s helping me with that, but it’s hard to tell. It’s not easy being a dragon; everything tends to look like food.”

3. (Meet and Greet)

“Dhoul, what did you do?” Siobhan rapped her staff on the cave wall and peeked inside.

“What? Nothing!” Muffled, bleating cries echoed from the cave. “Have you come to sit? Have you any prickly pears?”

“I’m not here to visit. You’ve been in the farmer’s sheep!” She squinted against the dark.

“No! Well, yes. But only a few.”

“You’re going to get us both in trouble.” She stepped inside to let her eyes adjust.

“I’m not afraid,” he said and released two sheep who ran screaming for daylight.  

She turned away and watched them race back to their flock. “No, I don’t suppose you have reason to be.”

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