Screenwriting 3: “Dialogue” by J. West
INT. LOUNGE – DAY
JAC (40s) wannabee screenwriter -- talks to herself. Nothing new there then. Although there's no sound... ALFIE (5) moggie cat, the local, writing consultant peers at her suspiciously. ALFIE Is it meds time? Jac, as usual, ignores him. JAC Dialogue...dialogue. ALFIE Ooo I've got it! Don't tell me, this blog post is about dialogue. Jac physically holds the sarcasm back -- JAC Why, Alfie. You're such a clever kitty. Who knew? Alfie throws Jac a sneaky look. ALFIE I knew. JAC Go on then, smarty, fluff-pants, how do you write decent dialogue? Alfie closes his eyes, he takes his time to contemplate. He snores. Jac nudges him. ALFIE Don0t be mean. I'm thinking. JAC Yes. Exactly that -- be mean. Alfie blinks his eyes open, confused. ALFIE Eh. Mow? JAC Remember to read through, and always edit. I find reading pages in the wrong order helps. And be: economical, natural, expressional. ALFIE (mumbles) Made up word. JAC You get me. ALFIE Yes, sadly, i do. Are we talking like young people now? Like. JAC No. Wait. Are we? No, don't over-write accents. Leave that to the actors and director to sort out. You can hint at one now and again, to keep the character real, but, don't overdo it. Alfie nods. ALFIE I bet there's a whole list of what not to dos. JAC A few. Avoid: stiff, forced, fake, dialogue. And try not to express every emotion or fact too. ALFIE So avoid how people really talk, in real life, for really real? JAC Yep, pretty much. Plus on top of that, try and give each character their own voice, to reflect their individual personality. So naturally, if that character is meant to be funny, their speech should reflect that. The challenge comes when you have to balance dialogue and the action lines to show a complex character. And unless vital to the plot, don't allow one person to dominate too much, letting them go on, and on, and -- ALFIE Soliloquy alert! Jac jumps.
JAC Ahem. Yes. That. ALFIE Ooo eck. Does this writing malarky, ever get easy? JAC Nope. ALFIE Dammit. Alfie stretches on the back of the sofa and sighs. ALFIE Not sure this writing life is for me, ya know. I might just stick to professional sleeper. JAC A tip for your writing thoughts -- read your dialogue, out loud. It really helps to pick up something that doesn't sound right, or hear a word that's out of place. ALFIE Ah, of course, makes sense. Jac sits up, smug. JAC Why, does it explain all those weird conversations I have with you? ALFIE No. JAC Oh. Thanks a lot. ALFIE Welcome. Alfie shouts his eyes with a purr. Jac deflated and stares forlornly at her laptop. FADE OUT. Author: J. West NOTE: Unfortunately blogging platforms don’t allow to maintain the typical screenwriting format, and it’s why the page formatting is out of sync. Please, open the following links to see the script as it should be: Page1 - Page2 - Page3 - Page4 - Page5