Monday, December 9, 2013

How Drunk People Can Help You Write Better Dialogue


Something I get asked about a lot is how to write snappy dialogue. One of the things I like to do is to eavesdrop on people. It's something I've been doing since I was a kid. What can I say? I was a snoopy kid. When you do this, listen for the content, but also the delivery on how something is being said (that's called the cadence or the beat).

Here's a gem I overheard this weekend while my hubbie spoke to his sister by phone:

Sister: "So, I was on the trail near the camp and heard something. My heart was racing. I was sure it was a bear."

Hubbie: "Yeah? Hmmm... Hey, did you see the new Starbucks in Ocean City is open?"

Me (Thinking): Did these two REALLY grow up in the same household?

This is the sort of stuff you just can't make up. It's priceless in how ironic it is, but also so reflective of their very different personalities and sensibilities (my husband isn't insensitive. He obviously knew his sister didn't get eaten by a bear, but he was just really excited to let her in on the new Starbucks). Imagine creating characters who speak to each other this way? But maybe instead of making them brother and sister, turn them into love interests. Their differing ways of viewing the world would certainly be a great way to turn up the conflict.

So this holiday season, when family comes together and everyone starts knocking back a few too many eggnogs, take note of what comes out of their mouths. A bit of conversation here and there can really go a long way.

Happy Holidays!

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