Author Topic: Basics - Dialogue  (Read 1851 times)

Writer Arena

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Basics - Dialogue
« on: August 21, 2013, 09:51:41 PM »
This is a thread containing information related to writing Dialogue

Alex

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2013, 11:09:10 AM »
This is a critical part of any good screenplay and the dialogue should be linked to the character and character development.
http://forum.writerarena.com/index.php/topic,6359.msg8383/topicseen.html#new

It is important to find the right balance of dialogue for that character... for example...
If you are writing dialogue for a priest it should be appropriate to the feel of that character.

                             REVEREND SIMONS
                Oh. Really Mavis. The Lord is always
                watching over all his followers....


                             REVEREND SIMONS
                Cool Mavis. The big narly Dude up in the sky
                is hangin' and watchin' you.


WHICH WOULD YOU PICK ????
« Last Edit: August 22, 2013, 11:11:07 AM by Alex »
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Daniel Botha

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2013, 07:18:30 PM »
To me, dialogue is by far one of the most complicated things to get right. I've learned how to write with a big emphasis on keeping the dialogue natural sounding and I still haven't managed to master that aspect of screenwriting.

The biggest thing to think about would be to focus on your individual characters. Remember that they've all got to have that distinctive voice that sets them apart from the others. Readers tend to skip over the character name above dialogue, so it is absolutely essential to make sure that you've established their "voice". You can do this by taking a long look at the character and establishing how the stereotype of that character-type would talk. Unfortunately, film is largely about stereotypes. Whether its getting over that stereotype or not, you, as the writer, have to make a few generalizations of your own.

Read your dialogue out loud to yourself. If it doesn't sound right from your mouth, it probably doesn't sound right from your potential actors either.

Dan

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2013, 11:14:11 PM »
For me, this is the hardest part about screenwriting. Dialogue is nearly impossible to nail, it just doesn't come naturally to a lot of writers - usually, it's all just passable.

Characters don't express what they're actually thinking, nobody does, they try and hide the truth, they bend away from the subject when they're confronted. Usually you should know what a character wants in a scene, try to create conflict or mystery here, then the dialogue will come naturally. Characters also should answer to each other, they should work off what they're replying to, there's an awesome John August article about this all, a very good read. http://johnaugust.com/2007/how-to-write-dialogue

I suppose there is also a way to cheat the system, which is to basically write dialogue that's so close to being pretentious that the reader thinks they'd be stupid if they mention they don't know what it means. Surprisingly, this happens in a lot of films, usually writer-director films or book adaptations. I always think of this specific line from Shutter Island which makes absolutely no sense at all but sounds cool - "When I came downstairs in my home and I saw that tree in my living room, it reached out for me like a divine hand". I've always wondered what it meant since it had nothing to do with anything. I tried a similar thing with WC4 entry, it seemed to work decently well, although a few people were confused.

Alex

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2013, 11:35:08 PM »

One aspect of dialogue I find extremely difficult, is when a character is required to speak a different language. I did join a forum once an posted some English lines of dialogue and received translation from members into Arabic. Time consuming though the final outcome was effective.

I am in development of a screenplay ATM with a number of scenes spoken in German with English subtitles so I am not looking forward to the amount of effort required to complete this.

Have to say out of all the various aspects of screenwriting dialogue is the toughest to perfect.
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Writer Arena

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2013, 09:17:59 AM »
I think there's diverse types of dialogue and each has it's place in their particular genre.

For example, action films don't really need much dialogue at all.  Dialogue should sparse and utilitarian.  Sharp witty one liners are ok but otherwise there isn't much that's noteworthy.

On the other hand, drama's drive themselves on dialogue - both what's said and what's unsaid.  Dialogue should be tight but it should be multi-layered and expressive.  You should be able to read the dialogue of a drama and get what the script is about.

 
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 09:53:05 AM by Writer Arena »

Alex

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2013, 11:46:46 AM »

Did a bit of research over the weekend and realized that we can do scenes in any language though write them in English... Saves a lot of time learning German, that's 4 sure.

                         Fuhrer
                     (in German)
             What a lovely bunch of coconuts.

I don't need to translate !!!! Yippee !!!!
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Writer Arena

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2013, 12:02:00 PM »
Furthermore you can do a note at the top of the script - instead of using a wrylie.  I used that technique in a script I did called Yttrium that was posing as a Swedish film. http://mcornetto.writerarena.com/scripts/Yttrium.pdf 

Alex

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2013, 01:29:03 PM »
Furthermore you can do a note at the top of the script - instead of using a wrylie.  I used that technique in a script I did called Yttrium that was posing as a Swedish film. http://mcornetto.writerarena.com/scripts/Yttrium.pdf

Thanks Michael,

I'll probably put a note after the Slug in the German dialogue scenes, similar to what you have done.

NOTE: All DIALOGUE IN THIS SCENE SPOKEN IN GERMAN.

Hopefully that will be clear enough.
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Danny

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2013, 07:04:26 PM »
What about length of dialogue? In the feed back I got I was told to trim it down 2 lines max, but I quote " As a challenge not a rule".
In other stuff I've written I can only cut down so much, without losing what the character is saying?  Is it just a case of adding scene in between the dialogue? Or Just a case of fine tuning the dialogue? In most screenplays I've read it seems to be 3'4 lines max.

Danny

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2013, 07:09:59 PM »
Sorry I meant adding, action in between dialogue, not scene.

Writer Arena

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2013, 07:21:21 PM »
That has to do with variety.  The most important thing with a spec screenplay, besides story, is to keep people reading.  You do this by keeping the eye moving on the page, short action, short dialogue.  You can have the dialogue last a lot of lines, just interrupt it with action every so often.  The same character can speak more than once in a row. 

JAMES
I wanted to tell you but ever since we were kids
you've made me feel like I can't...

James kicks a can against the wall.  He stares at Walter, his eyes tear.

JAMES
...like I can't show any weakness.  Like I'm
supposed to be some cartoon hero laughing in
the face of my kryptonite. 

James leans back against the wall, wipes the tears from his eyes.  Steels up.

JAMES
Alright. Tell me. How do I do it?   

NOTE: You should be careful not to include too much direction in the action and try not to be repetitive.  Try to think of actions that move the narrative forward or at the very least express emotion without stating an emotion.
 
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 07:26:41 PM by Writer Arena »

Danny

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2013, 08:33:56 PM »
Cool, that's what I figured, but then there's the issue of a page being longer than a minute, if i i keep breaking up the dialogue with action. Am I over thinking this?

Writer Arena

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2013, 09:31:12 PM »
Am I over thinking this?

Yes, you're overthinking it. 

crossrobertj

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Re: Basics - Dialogue
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2013, 09:32:56 AM »
I have a problem apparently with adding (beat) under dialogue when I want a pause between lines. What's the best way to go about this? Also, what's the rule on parentheticals in general?