Leaps And Bounds

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Listen to “Leaps and Bounds”

I started working on this piece before I got to the workshop. I was looking for story ideas everywhere — Craigslist, Google, Newspapers — and made it a point to spend at least one hour each day scouting for stories. Then I found the Fall River Herald. I knew I wanted to do a personal story, so I searched for all the stories the Herald’s Lifestyle reporter had covered in Fall River. That’s when I found David, a talented 16-year-old ballet dancer. I reached out to the reporter and she put me in contact with him. All this to say that because I put in the hours looking for a compelling personal story, when I finally found one, the person was there and ready to talk.

The next phase was the interview process. I didn’t know how many interviews to do for a five-minute piece, so I conducted as many as possible. I interviewed David’s dance instructor, his mother, his competition instructor, and considered interviewing his best friend and teachers at school. Even though I didn’t interview those last two, I still ended up with over three hours of tape. It wasn’t until I started transcribing that I realized I had gotten too much tape. Rob and Sophie (our TA) warned us about getting too much tape. But in the end, I don’t regret making that mistake. If I hadn’t done as many interviews as I did, I wouldn’t have known how much was too much. There were many possibilities for the story, getting too much tape forced me to choose one, and that helped focus the story.

I didn’t get to concentrate on David’s personal life as much as I wanted, so that posed a different challenge: How do I include his tough financial situation at home while talking about his ballet aspirations, all in five minutes? The answer was, short pithy sentences. I learned that short pithy sentences allowed me to cover ground in a few seconds.

I appreciated this story because it was my opportunity to really throw myself at something I’d never done before. I spent days finding the story, and once I found it I made mistakes. I learned from those mistakes and improved on them for my second story. Make mistakes in your first piece. Put your all into it. Rob, your TA, and your classmates will be there to catch you.

Saidu’s Sonic ID

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Listen to “Saidu Tejan_Thomas’ Sonic ID”

There was a guy just milling about next to the counter at a donut shop. He was talking to a girl on the other side of it. She was an employee there. They kind of joked with each other between orders until they kissed. It was really sweet. So I walked up to him and asked him how he felt about her.

Listen to more pieces from this Story Workshop class here.

Saidu Tejan-Thomas

About
Saidu Tejan-Thomas

Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. is a 23-year-old actor, writer, poet, and student of stories born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He has spent most his life in the United States where he attended Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated with a degree in Communications. Saidu can be found in that weird space between his Sierra Leonean and American identities, still trying to define himself by eating avocados in the morning and writing in the evening. Saidu is a member of PRX and AIR.

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