Be Careful What You Say

I think I’ve mentioned in other posts that I sometimes use lines that people say. I’ve proved it this past month by using something that Misty Evans said twice. In a comment on a January guest post, Misty said:

“My hometown has less than 4,000 people. There are some great folks here, but gossip is rampant. The saying is, you canโ€™t do a cartwheel in your front yard at 8 a.m. without everyone knowing about it by dinner time.”

In a guest blog on Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs, I quoted Misty. Then last week I was working on my next Miracle Interrupted book, and I used it again with a twist:

If she did a cartwheel on her front porch in the morning, everyone would be whispering by dinner time about the kind of panties she was wearing.

Today’s blog makes it three times that I’ve used it. I think that’s it for that one.

I’ve also used things my husband and I have said in intimate moments – not the tender stuff but the funny stuff. I’d repeat one but that’s probably not a good idea. It’s in one of my paranormal books, but I won’t say which one it is.

I’ve warned people that I’ll use what they say. What I won’t use are lines from someone else’s book. Or from comedians and TV shows. Someone sweated to get that line, and using it just seems wrong. But when I listen to comedians, I sometimes get ideas in a riff-like effect that puts my own take on the subject. My final line wouldn’t be recognizable to the comedian.

Everyone says something funny or quotable at some time. And not always humorous. My son’s motto is “It’s all good,” which I’ve used in a book before. I’m sure if I wrote a book with small kids in it, and I lived with small kids, I’d be putting in real things they said, whether it’s funny, profound or squeezes of the heart.

Have you heard anything that you would put in a story?

photo credit: alandberning via photopin cc

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22 Responses to Be Careful What You Say

  1. Amy R says:

    You know, I really feel like doing a cartwheel on my front lawn now (I used to be a gymnast so I get that urge often). I doubt anyone would notice though in my small town. We have 7000 people but so many people moved from bigger cities we don’t have that small town feel.

    As for funny things people say – my kids are always saying things that I keep thinking “I should write these down for later.” My husband usually puts them on Facebook, though and they usually get a good laugh.

    I also often wondered how much authors use in books from their own perosnal lives, and now I know!
    Amy R`s last blog was …Review & Giveaway: Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Amy, how cool that you were a gymnast. Now I know who to go to if I ever have a gymnast in a story.

      I’ve read that parents often send the things their kids say to the Family Circle creators, and they’ll sometimes use them in their cartoons. They have some good ones.

  2. Edie,

    Oh yeah, I’m inspired by what I hear and see. My family has been a veritable fertile garden for great lines, especially one brother. But I always add my take or twist to it just as you do.

    Or things that have happened. Same thing. Put your twist or layer to it and use it. I’ve warned everyone “I’m a writer. Everything I see or hear or feel could be used in some way.” ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Casey Clifford`s last blog was …Let It Snow

  3. Misty Evans says:

    Kids and small towns are a bevy of good one-liners. I’ve used sayings other’s have shared with me in my books. I’ve occasionally threatened to use people who piss me off as antagonists just so I could kill them off in a book. Never done it, but still…it makes me feel better!

    I’m glad my comment inspired you, Edie! And I love how you reworded it for your book. Perfect!

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Misty, I know someone who killed off a close relation in a book. She didn’t change the person’s gender or relationship to the heroine. I believe she’s recently had requests for it. She thinks the other person will never know, but I wonder… (Hey, maybe that’s a plot there!)

      Thanks again for the inspiration!

  4. Amy Atwell says:

    What a fun pic. I was never good at cartwheeling. Don’t even think I could attempt it these days. As for a line, well, here’s a saying we used to have back when I was in college. Don’t ask me who came up with it, what the circumstances were or even exactly what it means. I think it basically means, “I’m dumbfounded.” But here it is: “Well, whip me between the legs with wet lettuce and call me Helen.” I don’t think we even knew anyone named Helen at the time, so the saying always cracked my girlfriends and I up.

    Not likely to use it in a book any time soon…. LOL
    Amy Atwell`s last blog was …Story Icons: The Little Mermaid

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Amy, I love that line! It could be something that has meaning between friends or sisters. It would be fun to make up a while list of lines like that. lol

  5. Liz Kreger says:

    I find phrases in books that pique my imagination, but like you, I’d never use ’em. I might completely reword it so that the same meaning comes across, though.

    I once said something to my husband that he’ll never (ever) let me forget. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ This was over 20 years ago and we were driving to Florida or somethin’. I was talking and nagitating at the same time. When we came to our turnoff, I pointed to it and he kept going straight. I said with all sincerely “Didn’t you hear me pointing?” I don’t think he stopped laughing for an hour.

  6. This is such a great post, Edie ;).
    Yeah, I’ve used lines that came up in conversation — especially between my huband and me — more than once in my books. He laughs when he finds them in the narrative. And sometimes my brother or my son will tell me something funny and then say, “You can use that in story if you want.” (Or, I just tell them I’m going to use it and give them no choice…LOL.) I relied heavily on my brother’s math geekiness when I was writing A Summer in Europe, and I credit him for presenting with several of the math jokes. Family members know that I’m REALLY listening to them, so they’d better be careful!!
    Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Pride & Prejudice is 200 Today!!!

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Marilyn, the funny thing is that after I wrote it I thought it was pitiful and tried to think of another topic. I only left this because my mind was blank.

      That’s fun when you can use your whole family. I bet your brother was flattered that you had a math geek in your book. I was talking to my son today and we were laughing about something my mother used to do. I should put that in a book.

  7. Lori says:

    I swear whenever I hear something good I can’t write it down and then by the time I can, I’ve forgotten it!

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Lori, if I don’t write it down, I forget it, too. I actually had to go back to the MM post to quote Misty. The version I remembered wasn’t as good.

  8. “I’m as committed as my paycheck allows me.” That was my motto right before I quit my job.

    There was also a conversation that went something like…
    Objective Person: “So what do like about Software Application A? Seriously. Do you like it?”
    Means-Well Person (grinning): “It has its uses.”
    Me: “So does toilet paper. What the heck does that mean?”

    You know me, Edie. I shoot from the hip if you give me enough ammunition. And yes, some of those have ended up in my books. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Edie,

    I love cartwheeling! My daughter and youngest son often go the length of the back yard. It’s fun. Several of my older children’s friends WANT to be in my books. lol.

    I do not want to say lines from other writers – but am always worried of doing so unknowingly!
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Garden of Sorrow Barrage!

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Dale, I used to love cartwheeling, too. Good for you for still doing it.

      I don’t know about using someone I know in a book. Unless she/he’s a murder victim. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

      I’m careful not to repeat lines from other authors’ books, too, but I supposed some of it gets into our unconscious and it could happen.

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