Sunday, August 24, 2008

INTO WORDS: An Itty Bitty Column on Writing

"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
August 24, 2008 _/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/


A group of retired men met weekly in the small café on Saturday morning for breakfast. They crowded around the same set of tables to talk and to escape from women. They didn’t quite succeed. I usually sat at a nearby table where I could overhear their discussions – usually on sports, politics, family or cars. It occurred to me how wonderful it was to sit there and get a male perspective on life, so I started listening more closely and taking notes. I became a well-trained eavesdropper.

If you want to develop dialogue for your book or short story, take a notebook to a café or other public venue, sit with a cup of coffee or a glass of tea and listen. Listen to the servers, to the men, to the women, to the children. You will learn the rhythms of their speech and the topics of their conversations.

I pray you never hear something illegal that has occurred, but eavesdropping, politely of course, is a great way to learn how to write dialogue and develop characters.

Conversations aren’t the same as dialogue but they help in its development. Be discreet, but tune those ears of yours onto conversations.


Writing Dialogue: Elizabeth Rose
Writing Dialogue, Fiction Writing: About.Com

Baylor University, Writing Dialogue

Arts Edge, Kennedy Center (PDF)

Writing Great Dialogue: Rob Tobin


Jozette said...

I eavesdrop when I am traveling by bus or train. I pick up some very useful dialogue that I transcribe in a notebook I keep with me. I also describe the person speaking to get ideas for my characters. I watch their expressive movements when they are talking, look around at different faces for quirks, ticks and the like.

Thanks for sharing.

Milli Thornton said...

Mindy, this is a great idea! I haven't actually sat and taken notes while I eavesdrop. I'm still schooling myself to be discreet as I furtively stare at people in a public place, trying to figure out their psyche from their appearance and mannerisms. Yikes. Being a writer is such fun!