Conversations with Besties

“On the Phone…again” by thewoodenshoes via Flickr

Most writing teachers will tell you that you can include a phone conversation in your story as long as the dialogue is interesting and broken up with setting and characterization and all that good stuff. My conundrum; the characters in my novel talk on the phone–a lot.

In all honesty, I like talking on the phone. I appreciate a convenient text here and there, but I get frustrated with my awkward fingers (of COURSE I meant “flicking”). The calls I enjoy most, look forward to, will reschedule my life for, will barricade myself in a sound proof room to prevent any distraction for, are the ones with my Bestie Triumvirate.

The Bestie Triumvirate inspire me. Each of them represent the one relationship I covet most: the experience of having a sister.

The High School Bestie

High School Bestie came up to me in the band room  one day (yeah, we were the cool kids) after I had broken up with my first “real” boyfriend. I don’t remember what we talked about (probably the breakup), but we haven’t stopped talking to each other since. Given that we were moody teenagers when we met, our conversations over the years have taken on an existential and sometimes spiritual tone. She’s still the one I can call while sobbing, the one who gives the best advice for the most overwhelming of life decisions, the one I call when either of us is transitioning into a phase of unknown.

The College Bestie

Phone calls with College Bestie are fun, as if we’re still drunk from last night’s party. Every phone call I’ve had with her has ended with exuberant shouting and giggles. Every. Call. This is the bestie with whom I have all the private jokes. We speak to each other in acronyms. I call her when I need a shot of cool–she tells me what’s worth watching on TV and whose music should be on my iPod. Most importantly, we laugh.

The Grad School Bestie

Grad School Bestie and I were “fully cooked” when we met. We’d already spent years partying and discovering who we were, so by the time we met we had reached that comfortable, check-in often kind of call. Even the small things get calls with Grad School Bestie because we take things one day at a time. We do laugh, and we sometimes get existential, but what I love most is feeling like she’s always there.

Naturally, as a fiction writer the combination of conversations with The Besties became material for my novel, and I gave my protagonist a sister. The question now is, how do I translate the giggles, comfort, and camaraderie of those phone calls into fiction?

 In an early draft of my novel, I inserted phone calls in between chapters that were written as poems, hoping lyricism would capture the intimacy that I was going for. As I continue to revise, I find myself filling in those phone calls with narration, thinking there’s some way I can “say” it better.
The paradox is that despite the amount of language used in an hour on the phone, the experience of that conversation is almost ineffable.

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