This actually showed up as an article in Randy Ingermanson’s e-zine this month. It was a great article on how dialogue is not the same as conversation. When you are writing the interaction of characters, what you are doing is creating dialogue. This isn’t like the conversation you have with your friends. This is creating a way for the characters to move the story along.
Ever since I started trying to be more serious about writing, I’ve been practicing the old cliche of listening to the conversations around me. Given that I spend most of my time as a hermit or as a teacher, it’s harder than you might imagine. When I’m out and about, I do listen to the conversations around me. As expected, most of them are fairly boring. Some of them get written down in my organizer.
Listening to conversations as a teacher, though, is actually a bit more interesting. I’ve understood for years that teaching is best accomplished through weaving a story, but I don’t think I truly understood it until I started actively listening. In teaching, when you engage a student, you’re talking to advance the lesson along, much like one would move along a story with dialogue.
I’ve been complimented on my ability to write believable dialogue, and I’m wondering if it actually stems from years of creating this interactive teaching style.