Last year in creative writing class, I was introduced to an exercise which involved spying on people. Basically, you are required to listen to snippets of people’s conversations, and write down any interesting ones. You need an accurate memory, and the ability to write things down without being noticed. This isn’t just about being nosey though; its supposed to help with characterisation, and making your dialogue sound more natural in stories. It did it for my creative writing class this year as well, just because it’s a funny exercise…look at some of the things I’ve heard!“I’m not saying she’s posh, but she wears Converse.” “Yeah, she talks like Lady Chatterley or something!” “At my old school, there was, like, one black guy, and everyone liked him ’cause he was good at basketball, but he was just so generic…” “I love turning around poor smelly people and making them like me…No, I’m working with really bad, deprived kids who have been kicked out of school, and they’re jus the most inept…” “I just can’t handle it anymore. I can’t handle balancing going out with work. I can’t handle it anymore”. “She just doesn’t eat anything at all, and I don’t think she realises how she makes us feel. It’s not that she’s done anything bad, like, she’s not doing anything wrong…”
Try it. It’s interesting what people say when they think no one’s listening.