I recently learned about this great website/newsletter – WriteSpa, part of Winslow Eliot’s website. You can either subscribe to the newsletter or view past newsletters online. The premise is to provide writers with a weekly writing exercise. In perusing some of the past exercises, I came to one from last week: Great Dialog (part 1/3). The exercise encouraged eavesdropping to improve dialog in your writing.
So why does this excite me?
I LOVE to eavesdrop. I can’t help it. Out at dinner, on the T (subway for you non-Bostonians out there), walking down the street, in a dressing room. If there are people conversing, I’m probably eavesdropping. I think my favorite type of conversations to eavesdrop on are phone conversations. There is a sense of mystery and intrigue. You have no clue who is on the other end. It’s always fun trying to figure out what is going on, creating the other end of the conversation in my head, imagining who the mystery person is in relation to the one in front of me. Of course, first dates are also fun to eavesdrop on.
Wait, doesn’t this make me a creep?
And now we come to the crux of the matter. If eavesdropping helps me to better experience the world and see how others interact, then there’s nothing creepy about it at all. It’s research. I mean, how boring would it be if all of my characters interacted in the same way? Super boring. So, to all you writers out there, I say give into your inner creep, the voyeur inside us all, and engage in some healthy eavesdropping.