Open Letter: Talking to Writers (An IWSG Post)

This is an open letter to anyone who’s ever had a conversation with me. You may or may not have been aware of this at the time, but I’m a writer. That means there’s something you should know: while we were talking, I was taking mental notes about you.

Okay, there’s no need to panic. I’m not in the habit of taking people I know or people I’ve met and just dropping them into my stories. Yes, some writers do that, but that’s not how my process works.

So I promise I will not create a character just like you; however, the things you said—especially the way you said them—may inform my character development process at some point in the future. Well, maybe not in the future. To be honest, I’m probably already using you as a source of inspiration.

If you used some particularly interesting turn of phrase of displayed some unique or striking mannerism while we were interacting, I may have actually written that down to ensure I wouldn’t forget. I wouldn’t have done this in front of you. That would’ve been rude. But be aware that I probably did this behind your back, and I probably added you to a file folder when I got home.

I hope this doesn’t make you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable. It’s important to me that you behave naturally. Or rather, I want you and need you to behave authentically, because authentic speech and behavior are precisely what I’m trying to replicate in my storytelling.

Thank you for your time. I just thought you ought to know what you’re getting yourself into when you talk to a writer like me.


J.S. Pailly.

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and others. Click here to learn more about this awesome group and to see a list of participating blogs.

29 thoughts on “Open Letter: Talking to Writers (An IWSG Post)

  1. This is great and so very true. I do the same thing. I hang out in coffee shops and cafes, to write, yes, but also to absorb the quirks of humans in their natural habitat. Happy IWSG day!
    – Jen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do this all the time. I study and steal phrases and mannerisms to build my character profiles. My friend at work has my number though and swears that if I’d ever become a US best-selling author, she’s going to charge a fee for using her likeness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable. I often do the same thing when I hear a unique phrase or mannerism. My notes file is full of those little tidbits.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad to hear it. I don’t have a lot of friends who are writers, so I figured I was the only one who does that. The only one who’s essentially writing, making character sketches, and concocting stories, often involving actual people, all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I usually say something when one of my writer friends is around and then glance at them and say “feel free to use that one”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it just seems like people ought to know, doesn’t it? Sometimes I feel like I should ask them to sign a release form. Especially when they start telling me super personal stuff, and I’m thinking, “Oh! This’ll be useful!”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Haha, I’d be flattered if someone based a character off of me. I like to joke that I’m a female Sheldon. It’s fun observing people, that’s why I love writing in cafes.

    Keep smiling,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I always warn people that I might base a character off them if they inspire me! Then they generally get a worried look and become very quiet. LOL!

    I’ve nominated your blog for the 2017 Liebster award. Check it out here! If it’s not your thing that’s fine, don’t feel obligated to participate. I’d still love to have your book recommendation though!

    Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

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