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  1. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    Boring People

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jannert, Jul 20, 2014.

    Just ran across this excerpt from the Barbara Walters book How To Talk to Anybody About Practically Anything, as posted on the Brain Pickings newsletter this morning. It has to do with Truman Capote, and how he turned conversations with so-called boring people into writer's gold...


    Truman Capote has a natural gift that makes him a great guest at a dinner party: he is always interested in whomever he's talking to. For one thing, he really looks at the person he is with. Most of us see outlines of one another, but Truman is noting skin texture, voice tone, details of clothing.
    One of the reasons that Truman is always interested in people is that he won't allow himself to be bored. He told me that when he meets a truly crashing bore he asks himself, "Why am I so bored? What is it about this person that is making me yawn?" He ponders, "What should this person do that he hasn't done? What does he lack that might intrigue me?"

    He catalogues thoughtfully the bore's face, his hair style, his mannerisms, his speech patterns. He tries to imagine how the bore feels about himself, what kind of a wife he might have, what he likes and dislikes. To get the answers, he starts to ask some of these questions aloud. In short, Truman gets so absorbed in finding out why he is bored that he is no longer bored at all.

  2. Mike Kobernus

    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

    Oct 23, 2013
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    That sounds like a very good exercise. Not so much from the perspective of relieving boredom, but from developing good characterisation skills. Thanks for the post, jannert!
    jannert likes this.
  3. thirdwind

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Jul 17, 2008
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    Interesting. I recall Capote's partner Jack Dunphy saying pretty much the same thing about him.

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