Sunday, December 16, 2012

Talking and Listening for Writing

Dialogue can be a challenge.  Stories can seem lame.  The flow of one element into another can feel stagnant and anticlimactic.  There is no magical solution to mend any of these things.  Good writing comes from hard work and lots of revision.  However, there is something really simple that can aide all writers from the aspiring newbies to the old hats, and that is talking to people and listening to people talk.  Pay attention the next time a sage (or quirky) old grandparent tells you the 'I used to walk barefoot in the snow uphill both ways' story.  When out at a restaurant, listen in on the cute lovey-dovey couple sitting a table away.  They might throw out a pet name you've never heard before or make mention of some terribly intimate inside joke that you, as a writer, can speculate upon and imagine up how in the world 'bet your legs on it' makes this couple smile and blush.  Maybe the couple isn't lovey-dovey, maybe they are quiet and cold to each other.  Pay attention to what they say both with words and with their body language.  Use this to fuel your writing.

Go people watching at the mall.  Get daring and strike up a conversation with a random stranger (doesn't have to be a long one) talking about anything!  And, of course, talk to your friends.  The more you talk/listen/observe, the easier it gets to create realistic human interactions within your writing; and the more you learn how your fellow humans operate (from a technical and logistical point of view) the stronger your stories will become.  If you want to write realism then draw upon what reality offers you and if what you want to write the opposite, then use what you've learned as a 'what not to do' reference guide.  The best way to break a rule is to master it and the best way to write what a thing 'is', is to describe what it 'is not.'  People are your greatest resource and, at the risk of sounding unprincipled, I implore you to use them.  This is not meant to be an exercise in investigative reporting or slander; this is meant to further your awareness of the little things that we tend to take for granted.  

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012

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