Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bits and Pieces

I tend to eavesdrop. Awful, I know. It gets worse. I have been known to scoot my chair closer and take notes. The best places are shops, coffee shops and auto repair places. I listen to people on the phone, people in conversation, people on loudspeakers, people at the grocery store. It is a terrible habit and as I often do it when I am not wearing my glasses and cannot really see, I am sure I get caught out regularly and just do not realize it.

Trouble is that it is seriously helpful stuff. It makes writing dialogue, characters, shoes, bicycles, pets, names, hats, and hobbies easier and more grounded, more real and more fun. Often the things I hear are far better than anything I could make up...

Yesterday at the drugstore:

Six foot woman in line: "I look like a gecko when I wear v necks."
Her five foot eight husband: "Yes, but I like geckos."

Umm, genius?

At the bookstore:

A tourist lady in electric pink Aloha shirt: "Poofball is getting even poofier."
Her friend in matching electric pink Aloha shirt: "At least she is not as big as Sludge."

Poofball and Sludge? Amazing.

At a concert last night:

Thirty-something year old mom: "He is cute, but just in the way King Kong is cute."



  1. These were great! People watching rocks :)

  2. it does but i am just now realizing that i live on a very small island and maybe should not have told anyone i do this... :)

  3. Too funny - I eavesdrop too!

  4. LOL...LOL...What?!...Priya, you are too funny. But I've heard this is a good way to perfect the art of writing dialogue. I admit. Since I write YA, I've found myself more than once, removing my earphones when I'm around a bunch of teenagers and listening in. Glad to know I'm not the only one. Thanks for leaving me encouraging words today. You know I appreciated it :-)

  5. yes! and pretending to be on your phone when you are not? that is a good one too! congratulations again for backspace! that is huge!

  6. haha! You know, we were given an assignment to do this when I was in a writing class. We went to the mall, went into a dressing room booth and shut the door, and we actually DID take notes on what other people said in order to understand how people really talk (interrupting, assuming, talking over each other.) It was fascinating.

  7. Those overheard comments are classic! I think I like the King Kong cute comment the most. Have a great day!

  8. carin, that is a great assignment! people speak in fragments and not in complete sentences at all. they rarely finish a thought before someone takes over. it changes the way you write and makes the dialogue feel less stagey.

    miel abeille, i could not tell if she meant that in a good or bad way--strange. i hope you have a great day too!

  9. priya, i remember ellie donkin (amazing hampshire playwriting professor) gave us this assignment once and it forever changed my life. i still do it all the time too!

  10. i want wyatt to take a class with ellie! is she still there? you guys adored her!

  11. Agreed, Priya - I think most writers are shockingly nosy and incurable eavesdroppers. But who can blame us when people are so endlessly fascinating and hilarious...?!

  12. that will be my defense from now on!

  13. Hey Priya - I'm sorry I'm just commenting on this now... I LOVED THIS! I read it at work and my computer there is difficult about letting me comment on blogs. I included it at Kate's Library as part of my Friday Five. I eavesdrop all the time...


Please feel free to leave a comment! I would love to hear from you!