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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 1, March 2019

Ray Rasmussen
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


My eight-year-old daughter tags along behind, making up stories as we follow the trail to Deer Canyon, where I plan to show her a cliff dwelling. Elldorn, who I gather is an elf, seems to be having trouble with Buckwart.

I drift in and out of her story, from time to time inserting an “uh huh” while enjoying the sandstone pinnacles, an occasional claret cup cactus in bloom, the trill of a canyon wren.

“So what do you think Elldorn should do, Dad?”

“Um . . . maybe he should fight him.”

“Dad! Elldorn is a girl.”

“Ah . . . Right . . . I meant she should fight him. Elf against goblin.”

“Dad!! Buckwart is a dwarf. He’s her best friend.”

“Er, yeah . . . perhaps they should fight the … um … other ones.”

“Dad!!! They're trying to help the feather people find a new home.”

emerging from
a patch of sand –
sweet vetch

If you'd like to hear this piece spoken, here's my reading of it:

Rasmussen_Storyteller mp3 file

Note: Previously published in Contemporary Haibun Online 3:2 2007.

Comment on Writing Dialogue:

When I first started writing haibun in early 2000, I received some rejections with comments like "Thanks for your submission, but haibun isn't about dialogue. Perhaps this is best sent to a flash fiction or memoir journal."

But that's no longer true. I notice that a number of haibunists are writing dialogue and having their pieces published in most journals that carry haibun. Another orthodoxy gone and I think that's for the good.

This begs the question, How do we write effective dialogue? One Internet article suggested that using words and sounds that occur commonly in real conversations may not work very well in written dialogue and perhaps should be avoided. Examples given are words that indicate pauses in the conversation like "er," "um," and "well."

A difficulty with dialogue is that writers often can't tell how people read and absorb their writing. How do you think it works in this piece where I've used so many pause words in the dialogue?

And are you now using dialogue into some of your work? If you are, there are lots of worthwhile hints about how best to do it on the Internet.




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