Okay, most of us were raised knowing that listening in on other’s conversations is rude and disrespectful. But let’s face it, that was before cell phones and blue teeth and Blueberries and razors and robots. Or whatever they’re called.

I’m a writer, so I listen and watch a lot. And, when in the grocery in the past few weeks, I’ve been privy to conversations that have been wonderful fodder for my characters. You know that saying, “Be careful what you say, it could end up my  novel” – well, here are a few to stimulate YOUR imaginations.

Twenty-something, standing behind me. Ringtone: Hip Hop. “Hello?”  Silence. “Oh yeah? Well, Jimmy, I’ve told you before, you’re just stupid.  If you kill me, I’ll never talk to you again.”

You think? I deliberately didn’t look at her when I left because I was afraid I’d burst out laughing. Now that would have been rude!

Eighty-something. In the cleaning products aisle. Ringtone: Ring-ring like a traditional Bell phone. Sigh. “Yes, Mary, I’m still in the store. Silence. “No Mary, we don’t need cat food, Sweetheart. I’ll be home soon.” Silence. Another sigh. “Because the cat died a year ago, Mary. He doesn’t get hungry any more.”

Mother – youngish forty-something, my bet she was talking to a teenager. Ringtone: Theme from the Titanic. “Danny, you’ll do your homework when you get home. Silence. “I know, but your homework is more important than your girlfriend, believe me. If you don’t bring up your grades, you won’t see your girlfriend until you’re collecting Social Security.”

Now THAT was funny. I ducked around to the cereal aisle just before I started to laugh at that one. After all, I didn’t want to get caught eavesdropping, now did I?

Your assignment? Take any of those scenarios and write a short story that contains those conversations. Or, just enjoy them – and keep your eyes and ears open. The more real your conversations, the more three-dimensional your characters!!

Happy Writing!!!



About NL Quatrano

Award-winning author, speaker, editor and ghost writer, Nancy owns a full-time editing, writing and specialty publishing business: On-Target Words/WC Publishing. Volunteer/member of professional writing organizations including Florida Writers Assoc., Sisters in Crime, and AWAI. 2010 Professional Woman of the Year by the NAPW. Linked in Editor Pick May 2013. International Women's Leadership Association nominee for Outstanding Leadership 2014.
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5 Responses to Eavesdropping…

  1. I love catching snippets of conversation and taking notes on my cell. Sometimes they turn into story ideas or future dialogue for my characters. 🙂

  2. Chelle says:

    Great lines, especially for some funny stories. Another good way to come up with ideas for characters is to park yourself somewhere (I like the boardwalk) and just people-watch. If you see a couple walking by, make up their conversation. It can be a hoot, especially if you create dialogue to go with their posture, hand gestures, etc.

    • NL Quatrano says:

      LOL – you’re very right!! Or when you’re sitting in a restaurant, can do the same thing. Can create an entire scenario by reading their body language, making up their dialog, etc. Yes indeed, us writers can be easily entertained and inspired. Hope you are writing!

  3. Jeff Swesky says:

    In one of my old writers groups, we had an assignment to go our and eavesdrop on people’s conversations, and then pick a few of the best snippets and develop a short story from them. It was a great exercise and a lot of fun. Terrific post!

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