to Writing Good Dialogue: Eavesdropping!
Whenever I travel (and much of
the time when I, for example, am out shopping with my wife or
daughter) I enjoy eavesdropping. To eavesdrop means to "to listen
to a conversation without the speakers being aware of it." Nosey,
yes, but an essential quality of good writers is their nosiness!
Besides giving you a good idea
of what people actually do say, eavesdropping can also,
when practiced in a foreign country, give you good insights into
what people are talking about and what interests the locals.
Here are some prime
Movie theatres can be a great
place to eavesdrop before a movie begins (well, it used to be
before we started being inundated with advertising).
Tim Hortons or any other
coffee shop is often a good spot. Sit down, spread out your paper
(and include a sheet of notepaper, too) and listen. You might have
a chance to write some snippets of conversation when you're still
sitting there (discreetly, of course).
The bus (sometimes) is a good
place. Those darn Ipods have reduced the chances, however, but if
you travel by bus regularly you might catch some conversation.
The public square (if your
city has one) can be a good place. Get a newspaper, pretend to
read it, and listen in on the conversations around you.
And, my favourite: while
passing people on a sidewalk or seawall. Why? Well the overheard
"chunk" of conversation can be intriguing! What the heck were
they talking about?
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