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oldmeninthepark

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In learning the art of story writing one of the first fundamental truths you are taught is to “show not tell” your story. This applies to practically any genre that you choose to write about. Merely telling a story, even if it’s a good one, puts you in danger of losing your audience before the second chapter because it will become boring to them, and boredom is a sure killer to a writer’s work.

To show the story as well as tell it has the power to draw your audience in and get them involved with your characters and the outcome of whatever plot line you have designed for them. All the great writers from Hemingway to Mark Twain used this principle in their stories.

Using ‘show not tell’ as an example I have recently realized another truth that we all should be aware of as we enter this holiday period and spend more time than usual with our family and friends. In our conversations with one another we must learn to talk TO the party involved and not AT the party involved.

There is a difference in including the other opposed to telling him. As an example we parents spend a lot of time telling our kids stuff, we talk at them. Talking at someone is an authoritative thing, it does not include listening or give and take. It’s basically loving the sound of your own voice and the truth of your own opinions so much that you are using your opponent as a sounding board rather than seeing them as a viable thinking person, perhaps just as smart and just as interesting as you see yourself to be.

If you find the goal of every conversation you enter is to come out on top you may have found the reason why so many others seem to be evading you. Family members have a tendency to go this way, but the same principle applies with friends, coworkers, even on line if your not careful your conversation becomes a military exercise.

How much better to talk TO that son or daughter, or brother or sister than AT them. How much better to include them in your story than just telling them?

Try it once. Ask a question or two . . . be really interested in what their reply is. Think about what they have to say instead of thinking your own talking points while they are talking . . . listen to them.

That’s what I’m going to start doing and maybe they’ll quit calling me a know-it-all?

One comment

  1. My sister(she’s older than me but only by 3 yrs.) is like this-she talks AT me more than TO me. Thus, I end up avoiding her. It’s a shame because I’d like to know how my niece is doing but having a conversation with my sister is painful.

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