Each student gave me a shrewd smile as they walked away from the classroom. I reached the door and was about to wrap my hand around the handle when my creative writing professor pushed open the door.
“Don’t come in!” she said with her hands acting as a dam. “Go back out and find a conversation. Don’t come back until you have one.”
The door’s muscles relaxed as it eased closed on my grinning professor.
Our class found out afterwards that this exercise was meant to show us how everyday conversation does not always form complete sentences. We needed to find ways to more “casually” write dialogue into our stories.
I still catch myself surreptitiously overhearing conversations, listening carefully to how language is used. The best piece of dialogue I’ve collected, by far, was a conversation that I overheard on the bus to Mount Royal University. We had just stopped at the University of Calgary and a small group of University students collapsed into the seats behind me.
“And THAT’S how you ninja it!”
“I never used the tunnels like that before.”
“Yup! That, gentlemen, is how you get from one end of the University to the other without ever having to go outside. It’s like the mines of Moria! I think I should be Legolas because I have the hair for it.” He paused. “No wait. I’m the only one who knows the way so I guess I’ll be Gandalf. You can be Legolas even though you don’t really have the looks. And you” he addressed his final companion “can be Gimli because you’re the shortest of our Fellowship. Hey! Let’s ask Greg if he wants to be Aragorn!”
The troupe left the bus a few stops later with my shoulders still shaking from laughter and my thumbs growing tired from texting the story to my friends.