In answer to this what-would-you-do-if challenge, my fingers rose ready to the keyboard with:

She smiled, or maybe smirked. “Well, I’ve gotta go. It was nice talking about invisible sharks with you.”

“Yup.” You say, finishing the conversation, as you slowly start to turn away from her. As if in afterthought, you turn back, Columbo style, and say “Oh, one more thing.” She stares at you waiting for you to continue, but you hold eye contact and refuse to make the first move.

Yes?!

“I need to buy a bikini. Yours is about the style I’d go for. Where did you get that?”

First women’s magazines, and now bikinis?

“I owe a friend a replacement.”

You borrowed her bikini and broke it?

“Let’s say it was more of a swimming accident. So how do you go about buying a bikini anyway? Do you have to try them on first, or can you just buy it off the rack?”

Oh, it needs to fit, of course

“Ya, don’t want any muffin top action going on from a too tight swimsuit. Hey – I just had an idea that could solve BOTH our problems”

I have a problem?

“No time to explain. You’ve got to go. Quick, give me your phone number.”

———

In real life I’m not sure if could banter well on a cold pickup. But in writing that dialogue, I noticed a technique. I jumped in, not knowing what I was going to say next. Like in improv comedy, I didn’t script ten moves ahead, but just had to trust that one move would somehow lead to the next.

First move “One more thing”. In the field you’d have to say that, without having time to think of what that one more thing is. You’d have to trust that SOMETHING would come to mind. You gain an extra second of thought as you stare her down waiting for her to talk first.

Again for “I need a bikini”. As I write a lot, I’m confident that my fingers will come up with ideas I didn’t even know that I had. I trust the fingers to find the next step. What was after “I need a bikini, I didn’t yet know by they time I’d typed that. So it must be the same process with improv speech. Just one idea at a time.

And the same with the last line – “Oh – I just had an idea!” There was no idea. But being on the spot will arouse your muse, and if not, you can buy time with body language, or simply whip out a distracted non sequitur.

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