Monday, March 11, 2013

Writing by Ear

My students are polishing up their knowledge and application of the mechanics of dialogue, and one of the quick exercises I've assigned is to recreate a recent conversation. For some reason, this tickles them.

"What if I can't remember one?" someone always asks.

"Write this one down," I answer.

"Really?" he or she giggles and heads back to the table.

Then, when I try to quiet the class if there's too much talking, they like to tell me they are gathering material for the assignment.

You can imagine how spontaneous some of the writing is. Today, somebody turned in this one:

"I can't eat pork," I said.
"Mean either," Shane replied.

"What's this?" I pointed to the second line, curiously. I knew what the author meant, but I wondered why that construction made sense to her.

"It means that he's saying, I can't eat pork, either," she told me.

"Well, you write that as, me neither," I showed her, writing as I spoke.

"Oh!" she wrinkled her nose. "Well, it doesn't sound like that!" she told me.


  1. What a fabulous idea! How much do we harp on using dialogue in our writing? This is a great way to "study" the conversations we have.

  2. I love that this assignment revealed some of our bad habits when speaking! I know that's not the point, but I bet she won't forget that lesson!

  3. Good way to capture the moment. Love it.