In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Others' Words: Conversations

"Each person's life is lived as a series of conversations." ~ Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics

I've never looked at life as a series of conversations. Things I've said--and not said. Because aren't conversations both the spoken and unspoken words?
The responses of others. Or their questions. Or their words of comfort. Or their words that prompt a life-giving belly laugh to rumble up past my lips.
Give and take.
Ah, I'm beginning to see what Deborah Tannen meant.
Considering this quote from the perspective of a writer: I am all about dialogue. Often my first draft is 75 percent He said-She said and 25 percent He did-She did.
Dialogue, so I've been told, is action. And I believe it.
When people talk, they are interacting with one another. They may be confessing their love for one another (gotta' love a good romance) or plotting how to prevent the aliens from conquering the world (Cowboys and Aliens, anyone?). Maybe they're revealing a secret. Or lying. Or apologizing. Or whining. (Sorry, I've raised four kiddos and done some whining myself.)
What we say, just as much as what we do, is action. It's life.

In Others' Words: Is there a recent conversation echoing in your mind? Is it a good memory--or not so good? Would you go back and change what you said or didn't say? If you embrace the concept that your life is a series of conversations ... how would that change what you say?
And for my writer friends: How do you use dialogue to create action in your stories? Any favorite conversations between your fictional characters?

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At 3:45 AM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

I find it easiest to remember the conversations where I've said things that came out wrong (at least in my mind), or in a way that I wished later I hadn't said them. I am learning, with God's grace, to measure my words with a dose of patience or grace, and to not hold onto (read: over-analyze) those things that just didn't come out right.

At 7:28 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Isn't that true, Jeanne? We seem to remember the missteps,the misspoken words so easily, forgetting the times when our words comforted a friend or encouraged a family member. I hope that grace--and an apology--covers the misspoken words. And that both they and I can remember the words I said that encouraged them.

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Heather Sunseri said...

I love what Jeanne said above. Often times when I leave a conversation I over-analyze as well, but my husband, the voice of reason, always reminds me that others aren't as focused on our words as we are. In other words, most people don't over-think the things we say and dwell. They most likely realized we meant no harm and already moved on.

In writing, I like to use a character's personality within the dialogue to create tension. I love it when my characters' personalities are contrasting.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Good point, Heather. I do tend to over-analyze--and it can make me and my family crazy. I need to relax a bit more--be more gracious with my self.
One of the things I like about my work-in-progress: the hero and heroine are about as opposite as you can get. Oh,the fun I am having with those two!!


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