1. GrimStories
    Offline

    GrimStories Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Washington State

    gaining a richness in writing...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GrimStories, Sep 5, 2010.

    I've a simple technique that's wonderful for getting color, dialogue that's realistic, and learning different perspectives.

    Years ago, at a food court in a mall, I found a perfect table where I could sit with my then clunky, big laptop (notebook PC) and write. I don't care much about what other people talk about, but I noted that there was rich dialogue being shared whether I wanted to hear it or not.

    Nothing could be further from me than being some teenage girls talking about other girls who went by. Vicious, funny, some great throw away lines. This provided some great scenes for characters very much unlike me, but very realistic. While I might have dreamed up something passable, this was instead, realistic, jaded and contemporary.

    Another time two old African-American guys were talking about hard times, scraping by and drinking. They shared a marvelous sense of humor and a great outlook, spiced with some past mischief and salted with old fashioned period slang. The timing of comments, the natural 'punchlines' to observations, and points of view were great.

    You might not need something now, but nothing should be wasted.
     
  2. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    That's a good idea. I'll try it some time.
     
  3. Lothgar
    Offline

    Lothgar Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    37
    Can you provide some specific examples, just for reference? :)
     
  4. JeffS65
    Offline

    JeffS65 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    Good stuff.

    The best dialogue is from life. Conversations in life are not so linear and purpose driven as often happens in writing. In real life, people are trying get their own point in on a conversation, trying to be funny, sometimes miss the point of what the other person was saying and all that stuff.

    A well formed character is going to have dialogue traits and observing how people talk in real life is a great way to see that.

    Good post!
     
  5. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    Mmhm, I love listening to how people talk. :D I get the train a lot, so I'm always listening out to everyone as we travel... Sometimes I even talk to them. :p I went through a phase of practically interviewing a travel companion every few weeks. :p It's good to talk to new people. :D They tell you so much about themselves when they know they'll never see you again. :D
     
  6. GrimStories
    Offline

    GrimStories Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Washington State
    Lothgar, let's see...an example.

    The strongest of the girls' quotes which comes readily to my mind:

    One girl eying another, talking to her friends, "Uh, uh, she's not wearing that, not here. She's got no back for it, and why is she here? She's got no money to be shopping. Why is that girl smiling about anything?"

    That's a tremendous amount of showing VS telling in establishing a character, a setting, perhaps even a hint of forshadowing in just a small group of words. Dialogue can be tremendous for advancing a story and giving it life. We know a lot about the speaker, including her perspectives, education, background, culture, and yet we've gotten a perspective and glance at another character.

    This is why I love dialogue for voice, plot and character development.:D
     
  7. hiddennovelist
    Offline

    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,256
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Fabulous Sin City
    My husband thinks it's weird that I listen in on people's conversations, but I always knew there was a reason for it...I don't even think about it or realize it's happening, I just do it. Honestly, though, it has never crossed my mind to use things I hear people say in real life in my writing. Glad you posted this. :)

    I got some nice dialogue that I could use for a skeevy, sexist, dirtbag character while we were out to dinner last night.
     
  8. GrimStories
    Offline

    GrimStories Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Washington State
    My husband thinks it's weird that I listen in on people's conversations, but I always knew there was a reason for it...I don't even think about it or realize it's happening, I just do it. Honestly, though, it has never crossed my mind to use things I hear people say in real life in my writing. Glad you posted this.

    I got some nice dialogue that I could use for a skeevy, sexist, dirtbag character while we were out to dinner last night.


    That's fantastic and precisely what I'm talking about!

    No one in my personal life is similar to the people I overheard, UNINTENTIONALLY, in that Mall food court, yet they could be close to characters I'm working on or are on the back burner.
     
  9. Shinn
    Offline

    Shinn Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    925
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    New Zealand
    I love listening to other people's conversations; gives me inspiration for characters and plots sometimes.
     
  10. KittyGoesRawr
    Offline

    KittyGoesRawr Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A little to the left.
    Haha, that's very clever. :3
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    writers have always used people-watching/listening to inform and enrich their work... now that we have wireless laptops and even smaller devices at our fingertips, it just makes it that much easier than the old notebook and pen/pencil [or sneaky tape-recorder] method...

    in my old writing for money life, i wrote in bars, restaurants, and while traveling via all modes of transportation, soaking up the rich and varied 'flavors' of any unsuspecting future 'characters' within range... doing so also added interesting acquaintances and even long-lasting relationships to my life...
     

Share This Page