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Eavesdropping: It’s Not Rude, It’s Research

by on November 8, 2013

Did you hear what he said?

As a child, this question didn’t receive a verbal response only a twisting pinch to my thigh.

It was rude to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. Or at least that’s what I was told often enough by my thigh-pinching mother.

Fast forward thirty plus years and as an indie writer, my once frowned upon habit has become an integral part of my writing process. It’s research!

As a reader, nothing draws me out of a story more than dialogue that doesn’t ring true for a character. Can you imagine the alpha male hero presented as a former boxer, now a security officer, rushing his client and love interest into a waiting vehicle with, “Please dear, I think we should leave immediately.” That would have you shaking your head!

However, as a writer what if you don’t know anyone personally that fits your character’s persona?

Try a little eavesdropping. You’ll begin to hear not only the way words are used by different people but the cadence of the language as well.

For me, I’ve become quite the aficionado of perfect eavesdropping spots and I’m willing to share:

Restaurants: Depending on the time of day, there are a variety of conversations occurring from official business meetings to co-workers having a casual lunch to friends enjoying a happy hour appetizer.

Public Transportation: Wow, you’ll get the gambit here! There’ll be professionals going to or returning from work, students in various modes of transport and the patrolling officers themselves.

The Day Job: As a human resources professional, I’m trained to listen for ‘hot button’ phrases. So when a supervisor censured a woman for a dress code violation using the line, “…because you’re more blessed than others”, officially I had to note it and retrain the young man on issuing write-ups.

But as a writer…What a wonderfully Southern phrase! Isn’t that so much better than – “Your boobs are huge.”

I loved this line so much I used it in my latest release, The Beginning of Forever.

Amber Grayson, a towering woman with a statuesque figure, is shopping for a simple wedding gown that isn’t too revealing. The salesperson explains that a scooped neckline would be better than a diagonal one because Amber is “more blessed than others.”

I can’t wait until the next “I have to use that” phrase is whispered behind me, yelled from across the street, or laughed out loud while waiting for the train as if I’m not researching.

You can find more about Amber and Kevin in The Beginning of Forever ~

TheBeginningofForever (1)

All Romance , Amazon , Amira Press , Barnes & Noble


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  1. historysleuth1 permalink

    Concur on it being research. 🙂 food courts at the mall are the best!
    History Sleuth’s Milk Carton Murders

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  1. Eavesdropping: It’s Not Rude, It’s Research | valloryv

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