One day, in an acceptance speech for some grand writing prize, I will express my gratitude to the many writing advisers who have licensed me to eavesdrop in the name of dialogue research.
Mid-morning in a coffee shop, two baristas and a customer discuss airport security hassles.
“Yeah, you can fly with a gun. You just have to pack it in a special case.”
Good to know.
Saturday afternoon at the airport, a man explains to a woman:
“You done a lot of time in school, but you ain’t learned all you need to know. What I’m saying is, there’s more than you know what you don’t know.”
Not that I could use this carefully recorded conversation verbatim, but there might be a place for a minor character whose way with words leaves the protagonist no more enlightened than she was before.
Friday morning before work, two guys in shirts and ties in a breakfast café reveal their plans:
“My wife’s going on a women’s retreat with the church.”
“All three kids all weekend? You’ll be exhausted.”
“They said I have to feed them, too.”
Unguarded conversation is a valuable aid to understanding the male perspective.
Sunday afternoon at the pet store check-out, a grandmother calls to her excited and bouncy elementary-age granddaughter:
“Get back here and carry your own damn hamster.”
Reality demonstrates how easy it is to create a villain.
At a public boat launch, three men wrestle a boat onto a trailer:
Proving that not everyone uses expletives, even when landing on his. . .patootie.
When the characters in my head begin to sound alike, I go out for a listen. I call it a writing exercise--sometimes enlightening, sometimes alarming, and always worth a note or two. Also, a lot of fun.