Slice of Life Story- Capturing The Conversation


In my home state of Victoria, Australia, we have returned to stage 3 lockdown conditions due to a resurgence of Covid cases in the last three weeks. I have been consciously using this home time productively as I continue my journey trawling through old notebooks.  After almost 40 years, I have a plentiful supply of notebooks from which to mine potential treasure and hidden gems.

talking with others clipart - Clip Art Library

As most of us appreciate, conversation with family and friends remains important. More so right now. This prompted me to gather some conversations and dialogue captured across my notebooks. I am a practiced eavesdropper. I sit, I listen, I note.  Learning to capture authentic conversation is a most valuable thing for any writer to develop.

So, this morning I went gathering some examples of authentic exchanges and words overheard . Hope you like what I unearthed. I present it here for your consideration.

‘It’s ridiculous! Jeans in January. I don’t associate jeans with January. What’s happening?’ Cool summer days are irking my dear wife.

A teacher I was observing asked her students to use the word ‘border’ in a sentence. A hand shot up immediately and the teacher recognized the student-‘Please share your sentence with us Dante.’  ‘I border drink from the shop.’

Monica read her writing piece to me. It began, ‘I walked into the kitchen and Mum’s head was on the table.’ She suddenly stopped, looked at me and added ’That sounds all wrong doesn’t it.’ I smiled and nodded my head in agreement, unless she was writing a horror story that I didn’t know about.

A student seated at the back of the group raised his hand enthusiastically looked me directly in the eye and told me, ‘We did lots of brain-draining.’  ‘Close,’ I said. ‘I think you mean brainstorming, although sometimes it does feel a little draining.’  …Ah yes, from the innocent we often get refreshing honesty and accuracy.

The mind of a small child is both curious and unique in its appreciation of the world. A pre-school child of a friend encountered a spider and asked, 'What’s that?' 

The parent replied, ‘It’s a Daddy Long Legs.’

The child paused briefly before asking- ‘Where’s the Mummy Long Legs?’

‘He had the voice of an angel and the body of a dugong.’ A comment overheard on the radio.

Café conversation gold:

What’s he do?

He’s an investmentologist.

A what?

I don’t really know to be honest.

Café confusion:

How are you Pam?

It’s Jan, not Pam

Jan?

Yes Jan.

Oh sorry Jan, I thought you were Pam

I’m waiting for my x-ray appointment at the hospital when a young woman walks enters and immediately informs a passing nurse, ‘I’m looking for my Nana.’

‘Okay, what’s her name?’ asks the nurse

‘NANA,’ replies the young woman seemingly surprised the nurse is unaware of the person to whom she refers.

I struck up a conversation  with a Security guard at a Brooklyn NY school and he informed me, ‘I have trouble with little creatures like centipedes. Can you believe the Army trained me to kill people.’

She drew back hard on her cigarette, exhaled slowly to the sky before jabbing a finger towards her friend. ‘As soon as money were mentioned, she were there, she were there. She were there like a cannonball,’ she snapped. Her mouth moved vigorously as if she was chewing on a wasp sandwich.

'What made you choose James Bond as a writing topic?' 

'Because he is good at assassinating people and he has an interesting sense of humour.'

Meetings Would Go Faster If People Took the Time to Listen





Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing some of the dialogue. I went through some of my notebooks during the lockdown as well. Some feelings reemerged that were difficult but the process is interesting. I am glad to know that other writers are doing the same.

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    1. As much as we exhibit individual traits, we also share commonality in parts of our writing process. As you stated, it is good to know other writers are doing the same things, particularly at this challenging time.

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  2. These are terrific! It is especially delightful to see them all together - imagine what kind of wild fiction piece would include all or most of these - ha! I particularly liked, "‘I border drink from the shop.’ So punny!

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    1. Thank you Maureen. Your fiction projection makes for interesting possibilities...Glad you enjoyed these snippets.

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  3. I love these! Your use of color in the typeface helps the reader with the breaks between voices.
    My favorites are the centipede story, and the strength of language in "As soon as money was mentioned, she were there..."
    Don't you miss eavesdropping? Gold nuggets for writers.

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    1. The use of colour to separate each of the utterances provides them with their own identity and helps to make the collection more reader friendly. Thanks for noticing Fran. It is interesting what appeals to the reader and how this might be influenced by experience or exposure. I do indeed miss the eavesdropping. It was so easy before...

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  4. My favorite was "I walked in the kitchen and mum's head was on the table." I laughed out loud. I need to practice gathering conversation. Thank you for this inspiration!

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    1. That particular quote is a favourite of mine too. Unintended humour at its best. May you go forth and gather conversations. Have fun in the collection zone.

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  5. Oh, my! "Brain-draining", the juxtaposition of fear of insects and a sense of humor with killing people...all tidbits worth jotting down for future reference. You could make a complete story out of any of these!

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    1. Tidbits indeed Chris. I think you're onto me with your mention of 'future reference.' I have just submitted a manuscript to this end- hopefully.

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