Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Turning Conversation into Dialogue

I used to write down pithy quotes and bits of overheard conversation in a little notebook I carried with me. But as I added diapers and bottles and other paraphernalia to my bag of necessities, the little notebook got left behind, then lost. In the last year or so, I started carrying a notebook again and recorded a quote last night.

I was in Chick-fil-A--it seems I'm always in Chick-fil-A these days, killing time between kids' activities. My littlest guy and I were headed for the restroom when a little girl, just old enough to handle the responsibility of going to the bathroom by herself, darted in front of me. As she reached for the door handle, she looked over her shoulder and said, "Mom, don't forget to save my seat."

Did she think her mother would auction off her seat to the next child who happened to come along? Was the girl's latest activity so costly the mom was looking for a way to recoup the expense?

Her mother and I made eye contact and laughed. I don't know if I'll ever use that line in a story, but it was a funny moment.

Here's a real question that found its way into my book:
Child, age 3, to his mother: "Can I have a banana with no clothes on?"
No, the child doesn't want to strip and eat. He wants a peeled banana.
When I needed a child to interrupt the heroine's thoughts, it was a perfect quote to use.

Here's a snatch of conversation spoken when the price of gas first started rising.
Grandma says out loud within sight of preschool granddaughter: "Gee, this gas is high."
Granddaughter: "That's okay, Grandma. You can reach it because you're a grown up."

At times, my kids get excited and one comment will set off another. On their own, none of them are quite ready for stand-up comedy, but aiding and abetting one another, they often come close. Midway through a rant, I want to capture the conversation to use as future dialogue. I think I need to keep a tape recorder playing during big family meals. Does this happen to you? Do you overhear words that are too good to lose? Are you saving them? If not, when are you going to begin?

~Roxanne Sherwood

1 comment:

Beth K. Vogt said...

Good thoughts, Roxanne.
My girls--all three of them--have are quite funny and surprise me with their humorous takes on life.
I should be taking notes.