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  1. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    Reasons to start conversation with the person next to you?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by handsinthegarden, Jan 3, 2017.

    This may come as a bit of an odd thing to need help with, but I've been wracking my brain and I think I'm just over-thinking.

    I have two characters seated beside each other in a class. One is very silent, reserved, and not the type to strike up conversation first. The second character is very easy-going, however he finds himself intimidated yet intrigued by the student beside him.

    Would anyone have any suggestions as to how the second character may start a conversation with the first?

    Thanks for helping my stupor, guys!
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    Asking for help with work ?
     
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  3. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    You know, you'd think that would have come to my mind...but I only considered self-introduction.

    Thank you for the helpful response, big soft moose!
     
  4. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Either ask for help, or basically the easy-going one can just comment on something that's going on around them and then work from there?
    Like,
    Easy going guy: "Sorry, did you hear what the teacher said? Turn to... which page?"
    Shy guy/gal: "Page twenty one."
    "Ok, thanks. Aw crap, I forgot my pen. Dammit..."
    "Hey, here you go."
    "Thanks, man. I'm such a scatterbrain. One of those days, you know?"
    "Haha. Yeah, sometimes things don't go as planned."
    "Argh, I know. Like, I just came running to the class, straight from the cafeteria, hardly had time to eat anything, today's been so crazy."
    "Well... You didn't miss anything. The meatloaf tasted like old shoes."
    "Ok, whew, good. Do you know if there are any shops nearby where I could buy snacks?"
    "There's one down the street, behind So & So."
    "O... kay, so it's like... to the left or?"
    "Here, I can draw you a map. Or I can show you the place after class."
    "Really? Awesome. Thanks. So... what page was it again?"

    You get the gist of it.

    Think of the small talk situations you've had in your own life. Of course if the person you're talking to is very curt and seems disinterested in the conversation, meaning their body language and behavior signal that they want to be left alone, I'd imagine your character wouldn't push it then? But even "shy" people tend to have a lot to say after you've initiated the conversation and don't come across like an annoying jerk.
     
  5. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is the other character female or male? A college guy would probably try to strike up a conversation with a cute girl just because, I certainly did.

    If it's another guy, perhaps they have an esoteric interest in common. Shy kid might be wearing a Pokémon shirt and the smoothers guys friends don't know he loves playing.
     
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  6. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    Good ideas so far! Perhaps the reserved character is good at math, science, writing, whatever the subject is, and the easy-going character asks for help.

    It happens in classes I teach all the time.

    Peace, Joe Tex
     
  7. Seren

    Seren Active Member

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    I can think of no reason to start a conversation at all...people are scary! But if I was Character B I suppose I'd ask for help with the work, as has been suggested. Perhaps, as has also been suggested, I'd ask to borrow a pen or what page we were supposed to be looking at, though I have to say that if someone asked me both I'd just get a little annoyed with them myself. Like...really? You weren't listening AND I have to give you a pen?

    So if Character A is as introverted and slightly grumpy as me, that might annoy them. :)
     
  8. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's true, you may have a harder time getting the shy one to accept the conversation than the other initiate it. Shy people tend to answer direct questions then go back to themselves. I do, I really don't like small talk at all in person. If you talk to me, I'll probably ignore you unless you interest me with very specific and very esoteric things.
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    "I love that book too!" while gesturing at a paperback novel on the other person's desk or in their bag.
    "Hey, can I borrow a lightning cable?" while waggling one's near-dead iPhone with a dismayed expression.
    If this is a planned interaction and the person is ruthless, they could spill a beverage on their own and the other person's stuff.

    OK, I was going to have a dozen or so, but I ran down.
     
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  10. DueNorth

    DueNorth Contributing Member

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    My view would be that the conversation (and the start of the conversation would flow from this) would be driven by the function of the conversation in the story. Are they to become lovers, adversaries, friends, share in some struggle? The opening gambit between them is not just an arbitrary meeting or "small-talk," but purposeful, and how they both handle it shows key aspects of their personalities. If you know your characters, then you know exactly what each would say in each situation you put them in. I would venture that if you don't know what your characters would say, then perhaps you don't know them very well. Fielding suggestions from other writers of what we would have your characters say won't help you know them any better. Focus on the scene, the characters, and what function you are using the dialogue for and I suspect that the words will come to you. What I've learned (through deleting pages of dialogue) is to only use dialogue to advance the story.
     
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  11. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think something like this would be a fun way to characterize the silent guy/gal. Maybe s/he'll eventually warm up to the easygoing guy, depending on what the OP wants to do with these characters; show that they hit it off immediately, show their relationship warming up slowly, establish something wholly plot-related (the question the easygoing guy asked that faithful morning from our heroine nudged into motions events that were to change her life...) or use the scene to characterize or foreshadow.

    Yeah, I was also thinking about this... Like, I'd imagine the silent character would have to react in a positive way to the easygoing guy talking to them, otherwise he probably wouldn't push it. In the real world the silent, mysterious, brooding type just sort of tends to get ignored instead of people becoming so intrigued and enthralled by their stand-offishness that they'd keep on talking to them or continued to seek their company despite their reluctance to engage in a conversation. That's my experience anyway... Unless the silent type is a pretty girl. Then there will always be guys trying to talk to them. :D
     
  12. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    Wow! You are so lovely! Thank you. I'm quite like the first character myself, in that I'm rather quiet and reserved. I try to avoid small talk so it's a bit hard for me to come up with situations myself. Your response was very helpful. I believe this is the second time you've helped me now. I really appreciate it! :)
     
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  13. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    Ahh now that's a good approach! The other character is a male, but the common interest was something I hadn't considered before. Thanks for the idea spark!
     
  14. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    Thank you, Joe Tex! I feel like that sort of approach does work, and isn't too forced. Great idea. :)
     
  15. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    Whew! That's an understatement! I'm certainly introverted and slightly grumpy so I can definitely relate! Though I suppose I might be a little less annoyed if their only pen just broke. That's something that can't really be avoided..
     
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  16. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    Hahaha! I like the ruthless bit. That's actually really funny, and something I can definitely see happening if character B was that interested in character A. I didn't even think of that type of interaction! You're good!!! :)
     
  17. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    Aaahh, a very strong and wise approach. I think it's fair to say in all my excitement (because I'll be honest, I'm quite nerdy and get really stoked when it comes to my passions), I began over-analyzing the situation. I know how each would react given the situation, but I suppose I wanted to avoid anything that could be deemed 'cliche'. This is very, very good advice. I believe I've got the right idea now. :) Thank you, DueNorth.
     
  18. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    Very good points! Character B is someone who doesn't really get the hint, and would more than likely take the silence as a "Oh, maybe this person is just lonely and that's why they're grumpy." kind of approach. It makes me cringe but, I do know people like this. Character A was home-schooled up to this point, so they aren't really familiar with social engagement in school settings. I suppose you could say they are socially awkward, hahaha.
     
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  19. Warriorpoet

    Warriorpoet New Member

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    I've always found the real ice breaker is the quick introduction. In other words, I'll find (speaking for my character) something noteworthy about the stranger. Anything will work. Compliment the stranger on some article of clothing or jewelry followed by sticking out your hand and saying. "I'm John by the way. Nice to finally meet you."

    Then the real bonding starts the next day when your character enters the classroom, sits beside the new acquaintance and says, "Hi, insert name here, how's your day so far." By the end of the week, they'll be having lunch and sharing childhood memories. I think there's a significance to remembering someone's name, especially someone you've just met.

    This has actually happened to me in real life.
     
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  20. handsinthegarden

    handsinthegarden Member

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    I agree with you on that. It feels more genuine and that this person is actually interested in you when they recall your name. I really like that route.
     

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