Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Read My Writing: Make Your Writing Interesting with Dialogue

In requesting permission from Sarah @ Whispers on the Journey to publish her post, I told her that I loved the use of one little slice of life story, accompanied with actual dialogue, to capture an aspect of her cross-cultural life. I found it quite interesting. See what you think.

Answering Awkward Questions

by Sarah @ Whispers on the Journey

I answer really awkward questions without blinking.

I didn’t used to. I used to have a filter.

But tonight in my auto ride with a chatty driver – I realized just how far my American-filter for awkwardness has been stretched and disfigured. He was asking me questions about salary figures, marital status, why I chose to wear South Asian clothing, and my opinion on world politics and religion.

And I answered all of them. I chatted freely about my choice of clothes, the nature of man and Christianity. About how I’m not married because I’m “waiting for God’s choice” (this is the best answer that gets my parents off the hook for not currently searching for a husband).

The even weirder thing is – I now ask these questions too. I once struck up a conversation with a random girl in Dominoes pizza. We were both waiting for our take-out order. I plied her with questions. Married? Work? Where? Live with your family? Why not? And they’re ok with that?

She saw nothing wrong with answering all of those questions and more. I saw nothing wrong with asking them of a complete stranger.

There’s only one question I hate getting asked now.

But it’s not the one you might expect.

I hate getting asked how much I paid for something.

Not because I necessarily mind the question or find it impolite. But because if it’s a South Asian friend asking, my answer will inevitably be followed by “tsk tsk” and a lecture on how I could’ve gotten it cheaper somewhere else. (Or, I like to insert here, if I looked more South Asian!)

My neighbor once saw me coming in from the market with a bag of rice. She asked me how much I paid for it.

“26 rupees a kilo,” I replied innocently.

“Aww – you can get it for 23 rupees a kilo around the corner!”

So if it’s about where my money comes from, what I do every day, whether or not I’m married, if I live alone, what I think of corruption in politics and why I chose to wear the clothes I do – please ask!

If it’s about how much I paid for my rice – keep it to yourself!


Thanks, Sarah! Comments, writers? Could you all, in the next week or two, use dialogue to convey an incident between you and a national, and post it on your blog? This is the technique used in fictional pieces: telling the story through dialogue. I think it works great for telling about your cross-cultural lives too. I know you run into all types of interesting characters...why not introduce your readers to them.

And just to give us a peek, what if you posted a brief conversational exchange in the comment section this week...kinda like I said this, then he said that, etc.


WOTH Editor said...

Oh my goodness...as I was out snooping around reading posts this week from the blogroll, I noticed several posts using dialogue. Nicely done! I will highlight those who take the challenge of writing dialoglue into your blog post with a shout-out on next week's post.
love to all...your friend, Cindy

us5 said...

i know this is off topic, sorry! i love this post by Sarah, because i am in situations like this almost every day. so i have a question...does it go against blogging etiquette to 'piggy-back' off of someone's post? would it be bad manners for me to write a similar piece on my blog? i'd be honored if someone felt inspired to write based on a topic i chose to write about, but i'm not sure everyone feels the same way!

OliveTree said...

Using dialogue in our blogs is an interesting idea. I will have to put my thinking cap on...Thanks for the challenge.

Robin said...

I've tried to use dialogue in my posts, but always end up taking it out because I'm not sure how to punctuate it. When I've tried my hand at dialogue, it ends up being harder to write than I expect. I would love to see a post on how to write and use dialogue.

us5 said...

i contacted Sarah directly, and she graciously encouraged me to write a 'piggy-back' post to this one. thank you so much, Sarah!


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