Daily Writing Tip 13 of 100, Use Dialogue As A Trigger For Stories

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Use Dialogue As A Trigger For Stories

Source – Writing Dialogue by Tom Chiarella

Learn this quirk. Put it in your bag of tricks. Use dialogue as a trigger for stories.

I go back to my old advice first. Listen. Don’t Talk. Listen. If you’ve trained yourself as a conscious listener, almost any line of overheard dialogue can make a starting point.

This reminds me of a time many years ago. My son would take two hours of art lessons every Saturday morning. I’d drop him off and then head to a nearby Starbucks to kill the time.

I’ve never looked at Starbucks as a coffee place – I view it as an office rental firm. For the overprice of a beverage, you get somewhere to sit. Probably the most important thing I learned in the years of spending every Saturday morning in that Starbucks was how to sip a Venti in a way to make it last two hours.

It was a crowded spot at that time of day – but also crowded in a certain sort of way. People weren’t in there alone with their laptops (except for me). They were there in pairs or groups and they all seemed to have some sort of business to attend to. And on a weekend morning, that business was of an emotional nature.

I became very good at sitting there, taking in all the sounds around me, and sorting out a single thread of conversation. It was always interesting and often more than a tad salacious. For some reason that Starbucks seemed to be a popular place for people to come and confess the sins they committed on Friday night.

To this day, I miss those hours spent listening and writing. I haven’t found any other place with dialogue as interesting as that… just floating around in the air.

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