full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Nadia Kalman: Three anti-social skills to improve your writing

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Dialogue gives a sorty color, makes it exciting and moves it forward. Romeo: O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied? Juliet: What satisfaction canst thou have tonight? Romeo: The ecghaxne of thy love's faithful vows for mine. Without dialogue: (cricket sounds) So what goes into writing effective dlaugioe? Well, there are social skills: making friends, svnolig conflicts, being pleasant and polite. We won't be using any of those today. Instead, we'll be working on — let's call them "anti-social skllis." If you're a wteirr, you may already have a few of these. The first is eavesdropping. If you're rndiig a bus and hear an interesting conversation, you could write it all down. Of course, when you write fictoin, you're not describing real people, you're making up characters. But sometimes the wdros you overhear can give you ideas. "I did not," says one person. "I saw you," the other replies. Who might be saying those words? Maybe it's two kids in a class, and the boy thinks the girl pushed him. Maybe it's a couple, but one of them is a vampire, and the woman vampire saw the man flirting with a zombie. Or maybe not. Maybe the characters are a teenager and his mheotr, and they're supposed to be vegetarians, but the mother saw him eating a brguer. So let's say you've decided on some characters. This is anti-social skill number two: sratt pretending they're real. What are they like? Where are they from? What music do they listen to? Spend some time with them. If you're on a bus, think about what they might be doing if they were there too. Would they talk on the phone, leistn to misuc, draw pictures, sleep? What we say depends on who we are. An older person might seapk differently than a younger person. Someone from the sutoh might speak dtlefienfry than someone from the north. Once you know your characters, you can figure out how they talk. At this stgae, it's helpful to use anti-social skill number three: muttering to yourself. When you speak your character's words, you can hear whether they sound natural, and fix them if necessary. Remember, most people are usually pretty informal when they speak. They use slipme lganauge and contractions. So, "Do not attempt to lie to me" sounds more natural as "Don't try to lie to me." Also keep it short. People tend to speak in short bsturs, not lengthy speeches. And let the dialogue do the work. Ask yourself: do I really need that adverb? For instance, "'Your money or your life,' she said threateningly." Here, "threateningly" is redundant, so you can get rid of it. But if the words and the aocntis don't match, an adverb can be helpful. "'Your money or your life,' she said lgnoivly." So, to recap: First, eovsadrep. Next, pretend imaginary people are real. Finally, mutter to yourself, and write it all down. You already have everything you need. This is fictional dialogue, or "How to Hear Voices in Your Head."

Open Cloze

Dialogue gives a _____ color, makes it exciting and moves it forward. Romeo: O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied? Juliet: What satisfaction canst thou have tonight? Romeo: The ________ of thy love's faithful vows for mine. Without dialogue: (cricket sounds) So what goes into writing effective ________? Well, there are social skills: making friends, _______ conflicts, being pleasant and polite. We won't be using any of those today. Instead, we'll be working on — let's call them "anti-social ______." If you're a ______, you may already have a few of these. The first is eavesdropping. If you're ______ a bus and hear an interesting conversation, you could write it all down. Of course, when you write _______, you're not describing real people, you're making up characters. But sometimes the _____ you overhear can give you ideas. "I did not," says one person. "I saw you," the other replies. Who might be saying those words? Maybe it's two kids in a class, and the boy thinks the girl pushed him. Maybe it's a couple, but one of them is a vampire, and the woman vampire saw the man flirting with a zombie. Or maybe not. Maybe the characters are a teenager and his ______, and they're supposed to be vegetarians, but the mother saw him eating a ______. So let's say you've decided on some characters. This is anti-social skill number two: _____ pretending they're real. What are they like? Where are they from? What music do they listen to? Spend some time with them. If you're on a bus, think about what they might be doing if they were there too. Would they talk on the phone, ______ to _____, draw pictures, sleep? What we say depends on who we are. An older person might _____ differently than a younger person. Someone from the _____ might speak ___________ than someone from the north. Once you know your characters, you can figure out how they talk. At this _____, it's helpful to use anti-social skill number three: muttering to yourself. When you speak your character's words, you can hear whether they sound natural, and fix them if necessary. Remember, most people are usually pretty informal when they speak. They use ______ ________ and contractions. So, "Do not attempt to lie to me" sounds more natural as "Don't try to lie to me." Also keep it short. People tend to speak in short ______, not lengthy speeches. And let the dialogue do the work. Ask yourself: do I really need that adverb? For instance, "'Your money or your life,' she said threateningly." Here, "threateningly" is redundant, so you can get rid of it. But if the words and the _______ don't match, an adverb can be helpful. "'Your money or your life,' she said ________." So, to recap: First, _________. Next, pretend imaginary people are real. Finally, mutter to yourself, and write it all down. You already have everything you need. This is fictional dialogue, or "How to Hear Voices in Your Head."

Solution

  1. differently
  2. lovingly
  3. eavesdrop
  4. mother
  5. solving
  6. fiction
  7. burger
  8. words
  9. simple
  10. start
  11. listen
  12. bursts
  13. stage
  14. speak
  15. riding
  16. music
  17. skills
  18. actions
  19. exchange
  20. language
  21. writer
  22. south
  23. dialogue
  24. story

Original Text

Dialogue gives a story color, makes it exciting and moves it forward. Romeo: O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied? Juliet: What satisfaction canst thou have tonight? Romeo: The exchange of thy love's faithful vows for mine. Without dialogue: (cricket sounds) So what goes into writing effective dialogue? Well, there are social skills: making friends, solving conflicts, being pleasant and polite. We won't be using any of those today. Instead, we'll be working on — let's call them "anti-social skills." If you're a writer, you may already have a few of these. The first is eavesdropping. If you're riding a bus and hear an interesting conversation, you could write it all down. Of course, when you write fiction, you're not describing real people, you're making up characters. But sometimes the words you overhear can give you ideas. "I did not," says one person. "I saw you," the other replies. Who might be saying those words? Maybe it's two kids in a class, and the boy thinks the girl pushed him. Maybe it's a couple, but one of them is a vampire, and the woman vampire saw the man flirting with a zombie. Or maybe not. Maybe the characters are a teenager and his mother, and they're supposed to be vegetarians, but the mother saw him eating a burger. So let's say you've decided on some characters. This is anti-social skill number two: start pretending they're real. What are they like? Where are they from? What music do they listen to? Spend some time with them. If you're on a bus, think about what they might be doing if they were there too. Would they talk on the phone, listen to music, draw pictures, sleep? What we say depends on who we are. An older person might speak differently than a younger person. Someone from the south might speak differently than someone from the north. Once you know your characters, you can figure out how they talk. At this stage, it's helpful to use anti-social skill number three: muttering to yourself. When you speak your character's words, you can hear whether they sound natural, and fix them if necessary. Remember, most people are usually pretty informal when they speak. They use simple language and contractions. So, "Do not attempt to lie to me" sounds more natural as "Don't try to lie to me." Also keep it short. People tend to speak in short bursts, not lengthy speeches. And let the dialogue do the work. Ask yourself: do I really need that adverb? For instance, "'Your money or your life,' she said threateningly." Here, "threateningly" is redundant, so you can get rid of it. But if the words and the actions don't match, an adverb can be helpful. "'Your money or your life,' she said lovingly." So, to recap: First, eavesdrop. Next, pretend imaginary people are real. Finally, mutter to yourself, and write it all down. You already have everything you need. This is fictional dialogue, or "How to Hear Voices in Your Head."

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
skill number 2
speak differently 2

Important Words

  1. actions
  2. adverb
  3. attempt
  4. boy
  5. burger
  6. bursts
  7. bus
  8. call
  9. canst
  10. characters
  11. class
  12. color
  13. conflicts
  14. contractions
  15. conversation
  16. couple
  17. cricket
  18. decided
  19. depends
  20. describing
  21. dialogue
  22. differently
  23. draw
  24. eating
  25. eavesdrop
  26. eavesdropping
  27. effective
  28. exchange
  29. exciting
  30. faithful
  31. fiction
  32. fictional
  33. figure
  34. finally
  35. fix
  36. flirting
  37. friends
  38. girl
  39. give
  40. head
  41. hear
  42. helpful
  43. ideas
  44. imaginary
  45. informal
  46. instance
  47. interesting
  48. kids
  49. language
  50. leave
  51. lengthy
  52. lie
  53. life
  54. listen
  55. lovingly
  56. making
  57. man
  58. match
  59. money
  60. mother
  61. moves
  62. music
  63. mutter
  64. muttering
  65. natural
  66. north
  67. number
  68. older
  69. overhear
  70. people
  71. person
  72. phone
  73. pictures
  74. pleasant
  75. polite
  76. pretend
  77. pretending
  78. pretty
  79. pushed
  80. real
  81. redundant
  82. remember
  83. replies
  84. rid
  85. riding
  86. satisfaction
  87. short
  88. simple
  89. skill
  90. skills
  91. sleep
  92. social
  93. solving
  94. sound
  95. sounds
  96. south
  97. speak
  98. speeches
  99. spend
  100. stage
  101. start
  102. story
  103. supposed
  104. talk
  105. teenager
  106. tend
  107. thinks
  108. thou
  109. threateningly
  110. thy
  111. time
  112. today
  113. tonight
  114. unsatisfied
  115. vampire
  116. vegetarians
  117. voices
  118. vows
  119. wilt
  120. woman
  121. words
  122. work
  123. working
  124. write
  125. writer
  126. writing
  127. younger
  128. zombie