Friday, December 21, 2018

The Beauty of Talking Story

Talking story is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. In case you don't know what it means in the context of writing, it means talking about stories you're writing or thinking of writing, especially if you're stuck.

You usually talk story with other writers, but it can help to talk story to people who aren't writers, but are familiar with something in the story.

For example: Suppose your main character is a waitress, but you've never been a waitress. You need her to be able to share some personal information with a co-worker, but they're both waiting tables. When could they chat?

A waitress could tell you that the boss would frown on their standing around chatting, even if the restaurant isn't busy. BUT, if the restaurant isn't busy, they would be doing side-work, like filling the salt and pepper shakers OR rolling silverware up in napkins. If they're both doing the silverware, they could talk. Or if they bring the low shakers to one location to fill them, they could talk.

If you use that, you not only achieve your requirement, you add some detail to your workplace setting and increase your authenticity.

Or you need a character to do something but don't have a motive. Chew that character over with somebody else, writer or non-writer. describe the character, time, setting, interpersonal relationships. Chances are, the other person or people will see the scene as you've created it, as a place as real as a place in the actual world you've visited. They'll understand the characters as deeply as they would an actual person they don't know but you've met and described. From that construct of reality, they may be able to tell you things you couldn't see past the blinders of Being Able To Make It So.

On this turning of the season, I wish you the ability and opportunity to talk story with other writers and/or other people.

I also recommend the Speculative Fiction Guild's GIFTS OF THE MAGI anthology, a collection of speculative fiction stories set at the turning of the year, with a wide-ranging selection of celebrations. I have a story in it, but none of us get royalties: All profits go to "Indy Reads, a not-for-profit organization that provides tutoring to illiterate and semi-literate adults."

Marian Allen, Author Lady
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