In praise of House Hunters
My boss, who is given to making profound and occasionally disturbing pronouncements, once told me that every conversation is a power play. (We were having a conversation at the time.) I’ve found this very useful to think about when writing dialogue. And it’s part of why I enjoy the TV show House Hunters so much. You’ve probably seen it at some point or other. It’s on HGTV and it’s half an hour long and its about people, usually a couple, who are looking for a house. Invariably one member of the couple wants one type of house—a traditional fixer-upper—and the other wants modern. Or one wants to spend $300,000 and one $400,000. Or in the episode I watched recently, one was very concerned that his house not be haunted and his wife didn’t care. As a New Yorker, the first thing that strikes me is that if I lived anywhere else in this country, except San Diego, I could get much more house for my money. But why be bitter? The key thing that fascinates me is how these couples make their decisions. They are always so diametrically opposed that compromise is not really possible. One person usually has to give in. So who is that person? I love to try and predict. I’ve noticed that the better looking person will often get her way. Alternatively, the one who makes the most noise will often buckle. And everyone wants an open concept kitchen. As a mystery author, this sort of negotiation intrigues me. Power intrigues me. How do people go about getting what they want? How hard will they push for it? Might they be willing to kill for it?