Lucia Raatma

Writer and Editor

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Fun and Games

Posted by Webmaster on March 29, 2011 at 8:33 PM

Reading between the lines. When I was taking a screenwriting class in college, I remember our professor explaining how dialogue was by nature murky and unclear. People seldom say what they really mean. Instead they imply, they suggest, they deflect. Saying what you want and what you need seldom happens onscreen.


And what about in real life? All too often, we sidestep the real issues, the real worries and questions we might have. We mention that the economy is terrible, but maybe we what we really mean is that we don't know how to make the mortgage payment this month. Or maybe we complain that someone at work is not carrying his load, but what we really mean is that we’re concerned about our own stability.


So often, when I’m in the middle of something and one of my kids interrupts, I answer with, “What do you need?” This isn’t me being rude or impatient. It’s an honest question. What I can I do for you right now? What is your biggest priority? Let me address that and then get back to what I need to do.


Which is not to say that I don’t love hanging out with my kids. Maybe one of them just wants to say hi, tell me about the day. That’s good, too. But if Alex is feeling a sore throat coming on or Lizzie needs to talk about what somebody said on the bus that morning, tell me. Make that anxiety clear, and don't make me guess.


There are days when I’m more than happy to be perceptive, to try to see what people are really feeling and saying. But sometimes, it would be nice if everyone could be crystal clear and downright direct. The sky is remarkably blue today. Really, or are you just ridiculously happy about something?


Tags: implications, dialogue, being direct

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1 Comment

Reply keeneye
11:01 PM on March 29, 2011 
Very well said. Thanks for the wisdom. I think that sometimes people are so used not to being listened to by what seems like the whole world that they drag out what they want to say simply for the attention. So, listening carefully, especially to those who matter the most, is a great gift we can give.