Friday, October 7, 2016

The Joy of Eavesdropping
Fun With Quotes

So how, exactly does one have fun with quotes?
Glad you asked! If you’re like me, you start by exchanging quotes on a daily basis with your Best Bud. But not just any quotes, writing quotes, to give each other inspiration. And then you pick the two best quotes of the week to share with the rest of the world - because ... why not? :-D

It was a tough choice, choosing a quote from Jamie this week. There was really cute one from Winnie the Pooh, but in the end I went with this one:

We have all been little pitchers with big ears, shooed out of the kitchen when the unspoken is being spoken, and we have probably all been tale-bearers, blurters at the dinner table, unwitting violators of adult rules of censorship. Perhaps this is what writers are: those who never kicked the habit. We remained tale-bearers. We learned to keep our eyes open, but not to keep our mouths shut.
- Margaret Atwood

I remember when I was little, overhearing my mother make a comment about my aunt and how I innocently repeated it to my aunt. My mother was mortified - little pitchers indeed! Was it possible that even at that early age I was showing signs of my future as a writer?

Actually, eavesdropping is a great way to generate story ideas - especially if you’re in a mall or a restaurant or any place you can overhear snippets of a conversation between strangers. Whatever you hear is going to be out of context, so you can put your own spin on it. Let your imagination run wild!

Eavesdropping also comes in handy if you’re having trouble writing dialogue. Listen to people talk. Write it down verbatim and then go back and take all the “ums” and “ahs” out, but leave in the run-on sentences and sentence fragments. There you have it - authentic dialogue.

But people don’t just sit or stand stiffly and talk - not when they’re having a conversation at least. Pay attention to how people interact as they speak. They nod, or shrug, or gesture with their hands. I had a friend once who waved her hands around so much when she talked that when we wanted her to shut up we’d tell her to sit on her hands.

For my own quote there was really only one that stood out for my this week:

Tell the story as if it were only of interest to the small circle of your characters, of which you may be one. There is no other way to put life into the story.
― Horacio Quiroga

What a great idea if you’re having trouble making your story come alive! And it makes good sense, too. Your story is about the characters, after all. Who else would find it as interesting as they would?

Write your story for them. When you’re done, read it out loud and pretend they’re listening. Imagine what their opinions would be. What kind of criticism would they have? Think about it.

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