There’s a game that certain writers like to play — and in answer to your next question, it’s not called Hide-The-Salami (although that one is popular with certain writers as well, myself perhaps foremost among them), but “Eavesdropping.”
Here’s how you play:
Sit in a public place. Sit near people who look interesting. Have something with which to write. Now listen unobtrusively. Write down bits and pieces of what you hear. You don’t even need to see who’s talking. Just listen and write. Try to capture cadence, tonal quality, speech patterns. And ask yourself: what does the person’s manner of speech tell you about that person?
In my chosen profession, I’m in the enviable position to play this game all night, every night. Here are two recent samples:
Man on cell phone talking to daughter(?):
Yeah … Yeah … All right, Sweetheart. Love you too. Oh, and hey: you by-God better not be getting a bunch of piercings when you’re down there in Santa Cruz. You come back looking like that, they’ll kick you out of that school so goddamned fast it will make your head spin … Yeah, ‘whatever.’ Just don’t be doing it, hear? All right. Bye-bye, Sweetheart.
Next call: same man on cell phone talking to co-worker(?):
Not much, really. Having a scotch. I’m about to head over to Starbucks for a cup of coffee, though. Yeah, I DO like their coffee … That’s because you don’t drink coffee — hey, ever see that movie Pulp Fiction? … I say PULP FICTION … Yeah … Guy goes, ‘My wife buys shitty coffee because she’s cheap. But I buy the best.’ Blood’s splattered everywhere on the walls, and they’re talking about coffee! Haw-Haw-Haw! … All right … Yeah. See you later … Sales? Sales? Those are those white things the put on the top of boats, right? Haw-haw! Bye, now.
And there you have it. My first game of Eavesdropping made public. Pretty stimulating, n’est ce-pas?
For the record, I’m quite familiar with the Pulp Fiction dialogue that man was referencing — because I too thought it was funny. Here, though, for anyone interested, is how it actually goes:
David Lynch or Quentin Tarantino?