Years ago, I studied communication a lot. One of the biggest takeaways that still continually revisits me is indirect communication or speaking A to C as it was called in improv. “A” is the first thing you think of.

Example of a response in A:

    ”Would you like a brownie,” speaker1 asks.

    ”No, thank you though,”speaker2 responds.

A deeper response B:

    ”No, I’m on a diet.”

Even deeper C:

    ”No, I’m trying to fit into my dad-jeans from the 80s.”

Why does speaking in C create a deeper connection? Because it gives information in who you are as a person, into your past, into your present, and into your desires, rather than an objective, robotic no. When you make that leap, you share more of who you are and you gain a unique voice, all in roughly the same amount of time.

Here’s an example from James Scott Bell, in a book on writing:

Let’s say you were writing The Godfather […], and Michael Corleone has come to Las Vegas to tell the older, more established Moe Green that the Corleone family is buying out his interest in the casinos.
Moe Green is outraged. What does he say in response? At first, you might write it like this:
   I’m Moe Green! I was running this place when you were in high school!”
Not striking enough. So you tweak it:
   ”I’m Moe Green! I made my bones when you were in high school!”
A little better. But we can do more with it. In the movie the line is:
   ”I’m Moe Green! I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders!”

How to put this into practice?

  1. Ask WHY. Why am I saying no? Why am I am a diet? Each time, you get closer to your values, and you can share those in conversation. Why does this work? “Why?” worries less about the words and more about their meaning, so quickly your brain thinks of other words to express the same meaning…which is step 2.
  2. What other associated thoughts come to mind? Brownies, sugar. Sugar, energetic. “No, thank you, I’m already hopped up on coffee.”
    • Another related question: what does this mean? what are they saying? What is Moe Green implying when he says, “when you were in high school!” That he’s been the boss, making money here, while Michael was in high school diddling around.

Sadly, I think like a sloth moves, and I still react to questions with the first thing I think of. Perhaps, this is why I love writing so much. With my characters, I don’t need to jump A to C in an instant. I can take my time and ask questions, with each question, getting closer to the truth of what makes them a human being. Then, days later, I can hear my character give his response in an instant.

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Original ideas:

  • Improv: the Art of Comedy. (A to C rule.)
  • Dazzling dialogue, Scott Bell. (curving dialogue, going deeper and deeper)
  • Some “youtube pickup artist”. (indirect communication, how women speak naturally)