Some thoughts about listening

When I was a social worker listening closely was a big part of my job and I’m sure that has helped me to write believable dialogue.

What one deduces from what other people say is another matter, I think. Some of my musings on this have informed my novel ‘Timed Out’.

In the passage quoted here the narrator Jane and her partner Matthew are having a seemingly perfect day out.

“He pulled me down and we kissed and then we lay on the turf watching the choughs. Suddenly he said, ‘I’ll never forget you.’  He sounded close to tears.

‘I’ll never forget you.’ Was it the thought of the absent forget-me-nots that prompted this? I made no reply, and pondered it for a while. When I was a trainee counsellor, one daunting assignment was to write down verbatim everything someone said and then make a minute study of each word, phrase and sentence. Nothing was random, we were told. Even the daftest, out of context, or throwaway comment carried some unspoken meaning: the person was telling us something, perhaps not intentionally.

But with more experience of counselling, I concluded that this was not always true –  it was a bit too glib. Sometimes words just tumble out like typing errors of the brain. Sometimes it really is all tip and no hidden iceberg … he’d simply meant to say something nice.”

Would much appreciate your views on this.

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