The Art of Conversation

Hello, Thursday Morning friends! What a wild ride the weather has given us so far this year! We’ve had nearly 70 degrees, now plunging into the twenties or lower. Brrr! I’m pouring another cup of hot coffee, as we speak.

Speaking—conversation—is my topic today. Conversation can be interesting and fun, or it can be deadly dull. Have you ever sat next to someone who couldn’t stop talking? Is it a nervous thing? After a while, I tend to tune them out (survival tactic) and hope it ends soon.

Even though that is definitely considered talking, it’s not conversation. A conversation is at least two-sided. It’s like a game of ping pong or tennis. There’s a lot of back-and-forth. And, like a game, it can be exciting. Even scintillating, depending on the content. My favorite books are those with a lot of conversation. We learn about people as they speak to one another, especially when there’s friendship and camaraderie between them. They are comfortable being themselves.

camaraderie: mutual trust between people who spend a lot of time together

My all-time favorite book is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë. Most of the story is in Jane’s voice, singular. She’s a definite introvert, though no reader doubts her mental and spiritual strength of character. But the moments in conversation with the rugged Edward Rochester gives the reader insight into more of her character (and his). We learn that she can be witty and wise. We learn that though sour and almost ugly, Rochester can be warm and caring. And we find out what has soured him on life.

When we’re comfortable (at ease) with someone, we tend to ‘fess up about stuff. That’s the interesting part. As in a game, it’s a balancing act. A writer needs to balance narrative with great conversation to keep a story moving forward.

What’s your favorite novel? Does it contain a lot of conversation, or is it mostly narrative? What draws you in?

I remember some of the early conversations with my spouse before we were married. We’d talk for hours. It was seldom boring. We still have those moments, when we hit on a topic that interests us both. Real conversations can bridge gaps and bind hearts. Relationship is a process. I don’t know if we can ever learn all there is to know about one another. But, we enjoy each other’s company—that’s conversation.

When I write, I try to develop my characters in this way. My main character meets a man, but she doesn’t really know him until they spend time together, talking. Through their conversation, they get to know one another better. Maybe at first, they’re bantering or arguing, but through contact and over time, they find similarities. They connect.

Jane and Rochester connected mentally and spiritually through their conversations. Those connective moments built a strong bridge that held them fast, even when all seemed lost.

So, next time you find yourself seated beside a chatterbox, try to look at the bright side and pick out interesting tidbits they may drop about themselves. Think of the game of ping pong. Try to jump in at some point and redirect. Make it fun. That’s conversation.

Click to Tweet: When we’re comfortable (at ease) with someone, we tend to ‘fess up about stuff. That’s the interesting part. As in a game, it’s a balancing act. The Art of Conversation with @batowens #ThursdayMorning #ThursdayThoughts

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