When Your Character Overhears Something ...

Does a scene require that your character overhear something?

That can be tricky. People don’t always overhear an entire conversation. What part should they hear? What context can you leave in or out to progress the story?

If you get it wrong, it may be difficult to go back and figure it out, especially if you decide to have a different person overhear the conversation, or even make the scene from the point of view of one of the characters in the conversation (or conversely, turn a direct scene into something which is overheard and possibly misunderstood).

One way I found (by accident, really; I had that last scenario happen, where I had an entire scene set up then decided to delete a point of view character — or rather, to not ever give him POV) was to write the whole scene as if no one were listening. Then you can step back and see what it is that you want your other character (or characters) to hear.

Once you’ve done that, the rest is just playing with the “eavesdropper”. You know what the characters in the conversation are talking about, the context, and what they mean when they say certain things.

But this other person could be anyone, of any age, with any background, with or without reasons to misinterpret what’s being said, or twist it when they tell the story to someone else.

You could even have someone interrupt the listener, so he or she only gets part of the conversation, or is even discovered!

This might be a unique way to get a pesky character killed off … ;)

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