When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy. Harriet was an 11 year old writer who would wander around the neighborhood to her favorite hiding places and jot down her secret observations about everyone in a college ruled notebook. She studies human nature and the predictable patterns people have. Sure, things take a disastrous turn when her secret notebook falls into the wrong hands…namely, anyone other than Harriet! When her classmates read Harriet’s description of them in her notebook, they are horrified. Harriet is ousted from the group. She learns a hard lesson about truth and friendship and lying and secrets…all valuable messages for a budding writer.
I think I’m going to have to make a date with myself to sit in a coffee shop sometime soon, notebook open, and just record dialogue. There’s a fun writing exercise I used to do with a writing pal – you find a location where you can overhear people’s conversations. You each start off working on your projects, but when someone gives the signal, you start weaving in overheard dialogue in your story. And then when someone gives another signal…you trade notebooks! And you keep recording conversations or tuck in an object that you see in the room or an article of clothing someone’s wearing. It’s a fun exercise to shake yourself out of a tough place or a manuscript that’s stuck for the moment. Sometimes something will trigger something else…leading to a nugget of an idea that unravels a problem.
During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on writing topics while systematically moving through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers. Join us!