Snatches of Talk Miss Skoro's English class Sep 25, 2012. Living Life like a Writer. Living Life like a Writer.
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“Writers are fascinated by talk, obsessed with what people say and how they say it, how they interrupt themselves, and words they repeat, the way they pronounce or mispronounce certain words. The way we talk says a ton about who we are. My notebooks are filled with dialog: snatches of talk or arguments between strangers, relatives, and friends.
Mom describing a restaurant:
‘The place was so clean you could’ve eaten off the floor.’
My brother, Tom, putting tons of black pepper on his scrambled eggs:
‘I want it to look like a coal miner sneezed on it!’”
Miss Skoro’s Grandma expressing frustration:
“Oh, Poop the loop!”
That same grandma mixing up her idioms:
“He smokes like a fish!”
And her daughter, my Aunt Jan, following in her mother’s footsteps.
“You just shot off like a bat out of a cannonball!”
Helena when she was two years old talking about going swimming:
“I gotta put on my swimming toot!”
Kirk Bloodsworth, a man who was exonerated after serving 8 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, remembers the things his mother used to say .(She died while he was incarcerated.)
“Don’t just sit there like a bump on a dill pickle!”
“You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything!”
My grandpa, who died four or five years ago used to express satisfaction over things by saying,
“Why, that’s as handy as a pocket’n a shirt.”
And when he was right about something:
“I didn’t come in on no sack a ‘taters.”
Scenes or moments when you can remember snatches of conversation are also helpful. For example, there was one time my 3 or 4 year old cousin approached me at a family reunion and asked,
“Is the swimming table for adults only?”
I had to think about that one. It was only a couple of minutes later I realized that he was asking about the pool table. I told his mom about it and she told me.
“He did the same thing the other day when we were driving to Church. He asked if we had passed the ‘bouncing i’ yet. It wasn’t until later that I realized he was talking about ‘IHOP.’ There was one we had to pass by to get to Church.”
Of course, that cousin is around 18 years old now, and there is no way he remembers that he ever did that, but I do. It still makes me smile.
Spend a few minutes thinking about precious or unusual things people you know say and how they say them. Write down those words and phrases and bring them to class tomorrow.
Also, think about short conversations you have had in the past. If there are any memorable, or unusual, or very sad, or hilarious ones, write down the dialog you remember and bring that, too.