24 October, 2010

What People Say

It's always interesting to see what sort of conversations come up when people have trouble thinking of something to say.

There's the weather, of course, which can lead to talks about past experiences with floods, snow, hail, ice, and other naturally-occurring phenomenon. It can lead to talks about their relatives, and their experiences with weather.

There's how boring it is to be standing in line, or waiting in the car, or sitting in the bus. That can lead to even further discussion about waiting experiences, what vehicles the people have missed, when others didn't manage to meet them somewhere.

There's chatting about some random person you or they saw somewhere, that made them go "whoa!" or "huh?" or made them wonder about that person. It can lead to conversations about other people you might have seen in the past, or about when people were looking at you strangely. (You have to have some guts to do that, though. :P)

There's talking about the weekend, the past week, the past month, the past year. Asking how it was. Congratulating the person when they say it was good, or sympathizing with them when it was bad. Telling them about your own trip, or lack of trip.

There's laughing over (even a mildly-) funny experience that you've recently had, that made you laugh or snort or giggle. Amusement can lead to a whole host of possible branches of conversation: older, fun things you've done, by yourself, with another person.

I suppose you have surmised by now that I was having trouble thinking of something to say. I've conquered that though, as you can see, by talking about what people talk about when they're going through this sort of thing.

This could even relate to writing. People really do hold talks like these--sometimes they're the most interesting ones out there--so if you're writing something like realistic fiction, thinking about what people say could be helpful. If you want your characters to be believable, they probably should have these conversations, even just occasionally, since practically everyone does. It can also serve as an information source--very handy if your character happens to be a spy or someone who needs the intelligence. ;)

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

-----The Golden Eagle


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

On a personal note, I never lack for anything to say because I'm always asking the other person about himself. (Which means I don't have to do most of the talking, too.)

Jen Daiker said...

I'm identical to Alex, never short on things to talk about because if you ask enough questions you normally have a conversation about the opposite person and the conversation never dwindles!

Great post!

Lydia Kang said...

I feel like this happens to me all the time--I don't know what to say next in a conversation. I do revert to Alex's method, and just keep asking questions about the person I'm talking to!

Mary said...

I am one of those people with an embedded sign in my forehead that must say. "Please talk to me. I love it." I may be reading, staring into space or even sleeping and someone will talk to me as if we've been in conversation for hours. I don't even have to acknowledge them for it to continue.

Jules said...

Being southern and never meeting a stranger I rarely have this problem in life. Writing...sometimes it just does not translate :D
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

laughingwolf said...

all well and good, ge... but are there any kinds of experiences other than 'past' experiences...?

an experience is something from an earlier time, no? hence 'past' :(

same as my 'personal' opinion... are there any other kinds of opinions coming from one's mouth?

Elena Solodow said...

It's usually fun to study facial expressions when someone's talking, and if lost for things to say, you can always ask: "I love your toupe - where did you get it?"

Lynda Young said...

I'm terrible at small talk (I guess that's why I write...I'm more confident with the written word where I have time to think about it).

Jennifer Hillier said...

I ditto Lynda -- I suck at small talk. I have no patience for it and want to know too much too soon about a person, and I'm pretty sure I freak people out.

I'm working on it, I swear! :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Alex: I'm not very good at asking people questions; I'm willing to listen, definitely, but I'm an introvert in person. I also have to figure out what to ask the person . . .

Jen: True. And then you'll most likely get together again to continue the conversation where you left off. :)

Lydia: I find starting a conversation the hardest part, although continuing it can be difficult.

Mary: Some just talk to everyone they meet up with. My mom has had people talk to her like that.

Jules: I'm almost always around strangers. I don't know many people in the town/city, and I don't usually talk to them much.

Laughingwolf: True. "Past experiences" would be a bit redundant, since there really isn't any other type of experience.

Another one of those pointless but ubiquitous phrases.

Elena: I like watching expressions, too. People can make some strange faces when they're talking.

LOL. I'll probably think of that question every time I talk to someone next.

Lynda: Me, too. In life, it's one thing after another, no time to think much, and reactions have to happen pretty fast. In a book, things can be edited, revised, etc.

Jennifer: I like learning about people as well. If I'm talking to someone new I'll wonder about their tastes, their favorites, their opinions.

Dayana Stockdale said...

Sometimes the silly/mundane things we say can say a lot more depending on the body language. Good thoughts for characters!

Joanna St. James said...

Everyday conversation hmmnn...
the way we sometimes just talk for no reason might get hacked out by an editor because it does not move the plot forward.
Apparently readers frown on weather conversations.

The Golden Eagle said...

Dayana: Body language can speak volumes. It's harder to portray in books than in something visual, but it can be effective.

Joanna: Unless it's got some sort of necessary tidbit, it's true. It can be slow, but it can also help to get to know the characters better.