Thursday, September 8, 2011

If only I was a fly on the wall!

This week, I had hoped to continue on with dreams and how they can be made into books, short stories, etc. but unfortunately, life has once again stepped in and changed the ballgame. I haven't had a dream that I can remember or even talk coherently about. I am beginning to think that by talking about them, I have sent them packing some where deep in my subconscious and it will keep them hostage until I forget I want them.

So, instead, let's talk about other ways to get the muse motivated. Eavesdropping is a goodie. Yes, I said eavesdropping. Some people think that listening in on other's conversations is bad manners. Well, as a writer, I think it is our job. We can create such great characters from conversations others have.

Think of it! A man discussing how he has just lost his job. A woman is bemoaning not being able to get pregnant. A teen is rattling on about the new band coming to town. Have you ever had such rich fodder for your writing as what is going on in other people's backyards?? Yeah, exactly. So the next time you are sitting at a family-style restaurant listen in on what the next table is discussing.

Imagine what would happen if that were your character enduring it. What if ... oh, what if! And oh yes, do not forget the wait staff!! Being a major go out to eat sort of gal, I have been privy to a lot of waitress conversations. They live very interesting lives.

Oh and one more thing, don't forget those conversations going on as you stand and wait on the cashier at your local department store. The people shuffling around you have a lot to say as well. Sometimes it is the way they say it to the kids seated as rapt audiences in the shopping cart. Those kids are now your eyes and ears - shuffle closer. Go on. Listen. You know you want to!


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Kim, you are so right.

I hear the BEST fodder for stories in grocery store lines, at doctor's offices, in Home Depot, you name it. Eavesdropping is also the best way to cultivate a totally natural voice for your characters in dialog. The way people speak -- with contractions and slang suitable for their time period -- is so important to a book whose dialog rings true!

Thanks for this and best of luck with your next adventure. ;o)


Ron Adams said...

Right on, Kim. It can be an excellent way to get good ideas, develop characters, get rhythms for your dialog, and otherwise learn what the people around you are saying about everything. I record a lot it in my cerebral rolodex, and pull out the bits and pieces I need when I'm writing. Great post, Kim

Sonya said...

LOL Good ol' spying. Many's the time I've sat and overheard other people's conversations, with my mouth hanging so open that the fly on the wall could've gone in for a buzz-around and I wouldn't have noticed.

It always amazes me when people don't notice that 1) I'm listening to their (very loud, very rude, and/or utterly horrifying) conversation, and 2) What they're saying is so awful, a complete stranger feels the need to crawl under a table on their behalf.

The things people will say in public now that cell phones are a fact of life. Amazing. :-)