Tips for writing dialogue

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Jabroniville
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Tips for writing dialogue

Post by Jabroniville » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:44 am

http://kenlevine.blogspot.ca/2017/02/ph ... oprah.html

Sitcom writer Ken Levine (M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier, etc.) gives some hints about dialogue. It's in his sixth Podcast, starting at about the 16:50 mark. Some fascinating stuff (he's a scriptwriting professor at UCLA as well), and it's just one piece of stuff after another. Typically stuff designed for sitcoms and for actors to say, but it works for a lot of things. I like his bit about cutting out the "small talk", and to start scenes as late as possible, and get out as early as possible.

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badpenny
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Re: Tips for writing dialogue

Post by badpenny » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:28 pm

My biggest pet peeve is when characters tell other characters things they [should] already know. Exposition like this is sooo lazy.

If you want a good example of how exposition is deftly handled, check out David Mamet's actioner Spartan.
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FuzzyBoots
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Re: Tips for writing dialogue

Post by FuzzyBoots » Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:23 pm

I'm just going to put in a general recommendation for Writing Excuses, a podcast headlined by such luminaries as Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Brandon Sanderson.

They have a number of episodes tagged to be about dialogue.

Michuru
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Re: Tips for writing dialogue

Post by Michuru » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:32 pm

badpenny wrote:
Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:28 pm
My biggest pet peeve is when characters tell other characters things they [should] already know. Exposition like this is sooo lazy.
My biggest pet peeve is when dialogue is so unnatural. In real life, we stumble over words or we take little pauses to consider what to say. We interrupt each other when things get heated. We have our own personal way of talking--isms that make our manner of speech unique.

I was in a writing group a few years back and loathed having to read anything by one writer who sucked all the personality out of her cast. Whenever anyone talked to each other, it was so clunky and artificial and... no one had their own voice. It was just... sad.
FuzzyBoots wrote:
Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:23 pm
I'm just going to put in a general recommendation for Writing Excuses, a podcast headlined by such luminaries as Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Brandon Sanderson.

They have a number of episodes tagged to be about dialogue.
Writing Excuses is phenomenal. I Should Be Writing is another good one.

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ClassDunce
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Re: Tips for writing dialogue

Post by ClassDunce » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:19 pm

Michuru wrote:
Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:32 pm
My biggest pet peeve is when dialogue is so unnatural. In real life, we stumble over words or we take little pauses to consider what to say. We interrupt each other when things get heated. We have our own personal way of talking--isms that make our manner of speech unique.
It's not just personal though. I find that in reality small groups of close people begin to talk a lot like one another. A personal shorthand that is developed as those relationships develop. Odd turns of phrases find their way into that groups everyday conversation, callbacks to earlier things are normalized, and these oddities in conversational styles are present in every close relationship. There's a limitation in writing to how you can present those things for a wide audience. I think that one of the screenwriters that gets this right more than anyone else, and we kind of make fun of him for it, is Joss Whedon. But that conversational style, between his characters, were able to develop over nearly decade of television and it felt natural for those of us who had grown with the scoobies. It was strange to people who hadn't.

Another screenwriter who gets this is Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin writes some of the best dialogue in television. It's smart and it's fast. It delivers exposition without feeling like it's just dumping it in your lap like the crawl at the beginning of a Star Wars movie.

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