10 Tips On Writing Better Dialogue

10 Tips On Writing Better Dialogue

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Daniel Calvisi, story analyst, screenwriter, author: In PULP FICTION There’s a moment where Bruce Willis character goes to buy some cigarettes and he says to the bartender he says 1 pack of red apples and the bartender says filters and he says none And that’s just a really cool fast interesting exchange there as opposed to 5 lines to explain what brand of cigarettes he wants and Oh, you know what? How about no filters in those cigarettes, you know because it’s very Noirish feel it’s very You know clipped and dark and tight and it’s just filters none and that just gets the the idea across. Jeffrey Davis, Screenwriter/Author: So Claude Rains in Casablanca says to Bogart. He says what what brought you to Casablanca and Bogart says the waters and And It’s a desert And Booker says something like I was mistaken I was misinformed I was missing Which is great dialogue, just great dialogue Music it’s music. You know, which is the difference between Speak like we’re doing here. Author/Screenwriter, Peter Desberg: Except interesting dialogue. good writing good script the scripts at command attention is With an extraordinary capacity to engage your reader And that’s usually through really smart dialogue The biggest problem with dialog is that writers often make it carry the burden of the story When what you want to do is you want to tell the story visually, it’s we’re screenwriters not speaker writers There’s a reason for that so you want to tell the story visually and use the dialogue as icing on the cake once the dialogue Doesn’t have is that doesn’t have the burden of telling the whole story. The dialogue can play can be fun I mean, it’s still giving us parts of the story, but it’s not carrying the whole story. So You know If you look at if you watch a movie and look at a great movie often great movies have so much stuff That is dialogue free they’re the I Think it’s Billy Wilder who did this and the story goes to Billy Wilder who was a great German screenwriter Came to the United States when the Nazis took over Germany and was sleeping on Peter. Laurie’s couch like many screenwriters Quentin Tarantino was Sleeping on Scotty spiegel’s couch and Scotty Spiegel got him a screenwriting job so that it could get him the hell off his couch so Peter Lorre wanted to get Billy wild here the hell off his couch and Hooked him up, but went to Paramount Pictures and pitched him as the greatest visual storytelling screenwriter And so they had a scene and I want to say it’s in dodsworth but I could be wrong where it was a 10-page scene where a husband and wife have a Argument and through the argument we find out that the their relationship is no longer romantic or Emotional in any way they’re just two people that live in the same house And so there’s 10 pages of dialogue and they needed to cut it down and Billy Wilder turn that into a half page scene And the half page scene was husband and wife on the elevator of their building Husbands wearing his hat wife’s got a purse clutched to her chest Doors open pretty woman gets on the elevator husband takes off the hat and smiles at her, you know And the wife basically takes a step away from the husband that scene gives us pretty much all the information that the thrill is gone from this relationship without all that dialogue and So always be looking for the scene that can demonstrate What’s going on in the story rather than tell us through dial That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of dialog but it does mean that the dialog can now be something else can now have fun first thing you have to understand about dialog is that It’s got to be connected to the characters desire line in the scene In other words if the character has an objective your intention in the scene the dialogue has to match that intention and what I see a lot of times especially with exposition and information is that a character is saying All that information and you can tell that it’s really the writers objective in other words The writer once tune wants the audience to know this information because they think okay the audience needs to know this and this and this and this so the characters gonna say this in this in this list and that doesn’t work because Scenes and dialogue are about a character’s intention in the scene everything a character says is Matched to what that desire line is So anything that doesn’t belong to that doesn’t fit and you can tell whether it’s the writer wanting to that information Wanting the audience not information whether it’s part of the character Good trick is to Try and keep your sentences as short as possible Which forces you to write in a punchy, er? Fashion, that’s that’s something that that I guess I learned from my journalist father Although honestly, I tend to break that rule a lot. So I’m probably a bit hypocritical there writers would constantly have A great line at the end of a scene, but then they add a couple of more lines There in security lines they call them. So we instantly just cross them out because they already had a great line That’s the end of the scene. And yes, everything hasn’t been quite wrapped up But that’s that adds energy when you cut that you’re pouring energy into the story when you leave it there you’re sucking energy out of the story because the audience is like bored through those last two lines and Going or do we need that? I was I’m out of it it you know you had me at a low kind of you know, you don’t need that beginning Sentence, you know, you’re saying the same thing in repetition two lines from now, you know, really getting concise down to the point of having or Overriding where characters say something and you could say it would be better if they just had a reaction, you know Always try to err on the side of let it let the actors act and emote rather than say something you know if you see someone’s eyes 60 feet on the screen that’s gonna say a lot more than a line of dialogue You know so you cut cut cut cut cut cut they say cut the dialogue and then cut it 20% more than that you’re like, oh lean and no one wants to because but I’ve read screenplays that read like a stage play and you’re like That’s not that’s not what this is or scenes every director. I’ve worked with said give me something to shoot where the scene is Just flattens and two people sitting that Quentin Tarantino can do it with the interesting dialogue with ten pages of dialogue But two characters sitting in the dinner scene You know the directors I worked with is they hate it. They’re lazy. What are we doing? It’s just this this this you know, and plus the food would be spoiled You know, it’s it takes a long time to film it You know
there’s an old rule that you leave you enter a scene as late as possible and You leave it as early as possible and you make sure that you hit the main point of that scene and if you keep that in mind that will also tend to focus your Dialogue cut to the chase what’s going on, you know less is always more is you know what I mean? And I’ve always found that and you find producer I worked with he caught the Repetition and dialogue and I didn’t even see it and he said you’re saying the same thing here again. We don’t need it I’m like, oh my god, you’re right, and he’s a big Anti repetition, you know Producer and I’ve never had that before a producer like would point out those specifics like oh you’re right I’ve got this bad habit now of Not even seeing it. And so now I’m very cognizant of that when I work with him and in general that You know, we only have so much time On the screen and so many pages and and if you don’t like the constraints then write a novel We can do whatever you want but if you like the screenplay format, you know you have to have these dense packed scenes with subtext, but not Go on for six eight pages, you know, there’s a rhythm to it. You have a feel like you say when you start reading That the scripts overwritten and you just know everything’s described in the writers So afraid to let go that their their vision or their ideas won’t come through on the page Well, once they take that script and make it. Yeah, but you want to You know your imprint is the script So, you know all these other little particulars are not going to help when it’s overwritten In listening to how real people talk It doesn’t mean you’re transcribing it exactly, you know, people don’t talk like they’re in a movie But so there is a certain amount of you know dramatic license that you have to use but you can write to cinematically, you know, you can write to theatrically into Too much like your characters are on stage and that can come through on the page and that can really hurt your script I mean what I do is I tend to be the hero you Know in in the first sharknado. I didn’t know I am ziering was gonna play fin So that character was just me. What would I do if I were thrown into this insane this situation? And so then I I write as my ideal self What would I like to say? In in that situation, what would I like to do? You know because in in everyday life we all have these moments where somebody says something to us, and we just go and we don’t know what to say and then ten minutes later it comes to you what you should have said to that person and The beauty of screenwriting is you can wait ten minutes until you figure it out and then write it down To write a good line of dialogue. Sometimes it’ll take me three weeks and then ten drafts later I’m still Tweaking that that come back think about it as you have a fight with your friend and then you sit there in the shower kind Of replaying that and you keep coming up. I should have said that like like that’s what movies are that They’re the writer has gotten that perfect response. So you have this perfect back-and-forth Repartee that real life never has if any if people in real life talk the way they do in the movies These will be crazy people You know, but in the movies, it’s okay It’s expected, you know in storytelling so the idea of of everything being honed to Be entertaining to be compelling to be a feast. It’s it’s a Story is a feast as opposed to just running through the frigerator open the door and grab a few things That’s real life some of the keys to good dialog people want to have now sounding dialogue the problem with natural sounding dialogue is if you were to go I Took a class once where they said go record people in the wild So I went to a mall and recorded people and what I got the most interesting thing I got was a guy who spoke entirely in belches And you can understand him but what happens in the war in the wild humans in the wild when we speak we talk and talk And talk and never get to the point and that’s a problem is in real life real dialogue seems to never go anywhere So what we don’t want is real dialogue we want something that appears to be real dialogue and that means we’re gonna craft something so that it sounds real one of the ways to do that is to have characters misunderstand each other because bad dialogue in movies is when Every character knows exactly what the other character is thinking when they say that in real life We don’t know what the other character is saying. So if you say I’m sick of your job. I’m sick of you working your job. We may hear I’m sick of you and respond to that we come up with our response sometimes before the end of the sentence so Misunderstandings occur in real dialogue and we create that. I have a USA Network movie Called hard evidence which is Only memorable because it was released on video after showing on USA Network a million times on the same day as a Julia Roberts movie called something to talk about both came out from Warner Brothers and my movie out rented it in the nation and I have no idea why except I did also see the Julie Roberts movie was wasn’t all that hot but one of the things that happens in that script is it’s about a Guy who cheats on his wife and while he’s cheating on his wife His mistress says she sells medical supplies, but actually what she is is a drug courier and in the course of the story He she asked him to carry the gun to their meet because she usually goes with her boss and don’t worry My boss has been there a million times again. Although stays in the pocket never comes out They go to meet do the exchange and the guy they meet pulls out a badge and says I’m with the DEA You’re busted and she says shoot him and he goes shoot him. I can’t shoot him and she And basically she says he’s just claiming his with the DA. It’s not real shooting and so she eventually helps the husband shoot the guy and then the husband has to go home to his wife and pretend like nothing happened and So he’s not just covering up the mistress. He’s now coming up the mistress and the murder well, the wife thinks the husband’s acting strange and decides to follow him and follows him as he goes to meet his mistress because he’s Freaked out about this whole thing Goes to talk to the mistress about it because she’s only when he can talk to he can’t talk to his wife so the wife sees the mistress puts two and two together and Confronts the husband and says, you know, I know that you’re sleep in her confronts the husband says I know what you did. He’s like Then she it’s you’re sleeping with this woman. He’s like, oh you know, it’s only the mistress and so she basically says, you know You’re gonna sleep on the sofa from this point on or you know We’re breaking up. So he goes down they get into an argument. He sleeps on the argument, he’s he’s the one that cheated so he’s sleeping on the sofa and the wife comes in one morning while he’s in the kitchen and Says this is after a period of time has passed and said that sofa can’t be too comfortable What does he think she means He thinks she means You can come up to the bedroom again. So he says so are you saying I can come up to the bedroom again? That’s his misunderstanding. She says no, I’m Calling my lawyer. We’re getting a divorce. You got to be out of here by sundown so by creating that misunderstanding It seems real so think about how to create misunderstandings where one character hears things different or hears what they want to hear and then they respond to what they want to hear and then they get the twist in there is the reality so Dialogue can now play, you know When you when it’s not carrying the burden of the story dialogue can play dialogue can go down tangent places Characters can say more amusing things A lot is said with that being said at all. There’s always that you know, and subtext is very important in your writing so you’re not just you know, you’re not just you you know, it’s not just The dialogue has like some depth to it and and what your exact what they’re saying is not necessarily what they mean, you know They’re saying a to really mean B because they’re there their intention to see you know There’s that so there are different layers to the to the dialogue and sometimes honestly You don’t know know about that until you write it and until you look look back on it and say wow That was kind of interesting or like that speech didn’t really go in the direction I thought it would and yet it’s kind of an interesting twist, you know But you just try to make it real you try to make it the way Real people interact in real situations if it’s that kind of certainly it’s that kind of movie. You can learn a lot about how people speak Just by sort of listening like listening in coffee shops to how people talk and stuff people rarely are very self-reflective People rarely say exactly what they mean people rarely talk in complete sentences, and so, you know The words we choose when you think about When you go to say something there’s probably a hundred different ways. You could think of to say it Why are you choosing the particular way you you choose and when you start to think like that? And why your character is? Choosing to say something that way and what they really don’t want to reveal like why ye will they go to this length? But they won’t go just a little bit more vulnerable When you kind of understand that about your character, then I think writing the dialogue becomes easier But you have to put that thought process into it first to know what they want to conceal and what they want to to give I Think and then and then you can start working with the subtext and all that kind of stuff that makes all of that flavor Kind of come out subtext generated in probably two ways one is if this topic of your scene is Why are you cheating on me as it sometimes is say with harsh and Carol? You have them talk about anything but that in a way and in a Context so harsh and Carol talking about their marriage whilst to res is in the other room and Overhearing things you do it in that way. You you go off point of a conversation You have a conversation about how difficult it is to repair the damn plumbing or whatever But and you do that in order to make your point very clear, which is dammit. This is this is wrong All of this is wrong and the other way Which is really a one of my favorite ways is to just describe behavior in a certain context So Carolyn Torres riding in a car What is she looking at? What is she doing? What is this? What’s what’s actually going on? And none of it has anything to do with Why don’t know camera angles or anything like that it’s just about what’s happening which is the basis of all drama whether it’s a screenplay or or play How people inhabit a space at a certain time That’s it. It seems almost laughably simple or easy but It rarely makes it intact to a screen in the way that that this has enhanced greatly by the Me’s own sin and and and the performances and everybody in every department just working to preserve a fundamental truth about a piece of material Ultimately, it is about a character Wanting something, right? Every story is about a character wants them wanting something and then facing a conflict to get it whether they get it or not So When they want something they have a desire That desire is expressed through subtext if I want this glass of water. I’m going to take the action, right? So the subtext is that you can infer I’m thirsty or I’m looking for some sort of like physical Distraction to keep my hands busy or something like that And the gulping is part of that too sure maybe there’s I’m about to confront you on something Yes, you know or I’m your boss or you know, whatever. I’m an Ex-girlfriend me. There’s just so many things and anything you’re like, you know, yeah exactly. She’s gonna say to me So a lot of that is about interpreting. We we are guessing what a character wants from the behaviors. They’re exhibiting right now the context is simply the Worldview the situation they’re dealing with right. So we’re sitting in a room right now. We have we all have different objectives and So that this the when the character so the context is literally just like the plate that you’re serving everything on like I compare it like visually it came up with the metaphor of Creme brulee just use a visual metaphor where you’ve got the plate as the context and then you’ve got the brulee or the the creme the cream As the subtext and then the the top layer that’s burned and scorched brûléed is The text. Oh, that’s great So the idea is basically what we’re seeing is words Right and those words often are in complete contradiction of actual intention but in some way were interpreting those words as a kind of behavior So most of the time like for example, it’s part of the reason when I’m writing The last thing I do is write dialogue. That was another thing I learned from wrong media You want to be able to? Well do whatever you want, but for me I like to have the characters intentions very clear and the conflict that they’re gonna be facing very clear and What we’re constantly trying to do is there’s this one there’s a one book called character and viewpoint where it talks about how essentially you know, we’re all like chimpanzees in the wild and when they’re in when they’re in the jungle, and they sense that there’s a threat they run away and The first thing they do as soon as they feel like they’re safe. The very first thing they do is they stop they turn around See where the source of danger is so that’s when they’re completely engaged the whole chimpanzee metaphor is basically that we’re trying to Interpret the intention of things that are around us. So we’re we’re we’re projecting What we think that person wants by the way, it’s behaving So we’re trying to determine whether it’s a threat or whether it’s safe Whether it’s one on our side or against us that kind of thing. So ultimately what we’re looking for with like with with dialog is we’re trying to see if we can believe them and The most interesting characters are completely unaware of what’s actually driving them. You know, like they’re the whole time like Indiana Jones is going through all of these ridiculous hoops Not really like the whole time. We’re wondering like why is he taking on these Nazis? Why is it being dragged by a chair? Just so that like some something and make it into a museum Ultimately, he has this really, you know stuff that depends how deep you want to go with Indiana Jones, but He has this kind of drive to it. It’s genuinely emotionally upsetting to him that there would be some betrayal some misrepresentation of the truth and That’s what’s interesting is so like the whole time he’s making all these really bold choices. You think he’s kind of this glib sarcastic professor but um what he’s really doing is He’s trying to unearth truth and he’s trying like he’s literally putting his body under all his brutality because he wants to the truth to be revealed and That’s you know and every single choice, you know that because every single choice Whether he admits it or not has led toward him exposing the truth for what it is The other thing about good dialog is that it beats around the bush nobody ever comes right out and says something instead what they do is they hint at things and so that ends up being subtext and subtext is Dialogue plus action. It’s never only the dialogue usually dialogue plus action so if I am sitting in a cinema seat and There is a and ice then my de line of dialogue is can I sit here? Is that okay? If I sit here that line of dialogue changes meanings if it’s a gigantic huge, you know Ex-convict with tattoos all over them or if it’s an attractive member of the opposite sex but the same line of dialogue has two different meanings there because of the situation and one of the things you want to do is Again, that’s the dialogue is not carrying the story there It’s it’s part of the visual and the verbal is a movie but characters often hint around two things I never come right out and say them and that’s good dialogue, too because if you think about Characters as like I like to think about it, it’s a first date you’re on a first date You aren’t going to immediately ask so you ever been married you divorced instead What you do is say well, you know, how do you feel about? You know something that’s that seems neutral and it’s the neutral way to get the information You ask questions like you never asked. So how do you feel about equal rights and responsibilities? When really what you want to ask is you just ordered this lobster plate. It’s gonna smacks up my credit card would you could this be Dutch, you know, you sort of hint around it things and that’s how people really talk or at least that’s what seems real on film as if characters don’t come right out and say things if they hint around and that again comes with once they hit around the audience either knows or does not know what the Reality is and so we get either infirmity. We’re learning information From how they respond to the hints or we already know information that we’re going they’re trying to hide this this Information we all have our hidden agendas. No matter what it is If we’re on the first date or hidden agenda is learning as much about that other person as we can to figure out if there’s gonna be a second date and So we’re always trying to feel out the situation By sort of trying to find the neutral question that gives us the information if possible So we may not come up with a direct question. We’ll find the indirect way to find that information So that’s like a subtext element thing Take a simple line. Go ahead. Drink it, right So go ahead drink it is the text. Okay We can add different subtext to it. So if I say Drink it There’s a different subtext, I’m sure maybe threatening you right I say go ahead drink it right I’m saying I don’t really care what you do if I say, go ahead Fucking drink it right. I change the text a little bit, but the subtext is totally different Now so that’s text than subtext context is We’re sitting in a bus I’m holding a gun. This is a clumsy way. I’m holding a gun and you’re holding poison, and I’m holding your child So now the context is extremely loaded and The choice that you’re about to make is implicit and I’m saying if you don’t drink it, I’m gonna shoot your baby So I say go ahead drink it See the context is this story? The context is a situation you’re dealing with We can come up with a much better. That’s just that comes in my head kinda makes it but the idea is that basically like the text is the Ironically because writers tend to overemphasize dialogues so much the text tends to get too much importance The most important stuff is the context and the subtext because The subtext is the intention the context is the conflict that you’re dealing with the situation you’re trying to deal with so if we’re in space and we’re flying toward the moon and We know that gravity I don’t know as we go if we’re flying toward the moon and we know that this is that the only thing that’s going to save us is This little serum and it could either boil our blood or it might save our lives and We’ve just given up and we’ve been through this whole journey and we were about to open the hatch and I say go ahead Drink it then. We open the hatch It totally changes the whole context So that the context is about the situation you’re dealing with subtext is intention texts is just the artifacts It’s one expression of that desire Finding the character’s voice, you know One of the mistakes a lot of screenwriters make is that they all the all the characters sound exactly alike Well, you want each character to sound unique to themselves, you know ideally If you covered up the character’s name and read the line you would be able to tell that it was that specific Character because they should have a specific voice another thing about dialogue is think about how dialogue is character based it all comes from characters and if you take a different group of people and have them say things they’re gonna say it in different ways and One of the things that I always use as my example is I write a lot in Starbucks coffee shops Where all the baristas are dressed the same? They all have the same basic dialogue. What will you be having room for cream, etc But each one is an individual and the spin they put on it their attitude comes out through the way they say things so there is a Barista at one of my Starbucks who puts the positive spin on everything So if you come in and say I lost my job today, she’ll say great you can spend more time with your family No matter how bad your life is She puts the positive spin on everything and she is so upbeat and chipper that I just want to kill her But but that’s her spin. There is a barista who everything is about himself so if you come up and say I want you know, the Tea with two shots of melon, he goes melons not very good I like the berry syrup the berry syrups better with this drink and it’s like how is Howard’s this has become about you No matter what you say he turns it into his story. And so there are carry These are these Opie all these people have the same dialogue the same basic dialogue, but how they say it Well, they’re spin they put on it It shows their character through you know The same basic dialogue but the spin on it and so think about character think about dialogue as being the extension of character and how we’re gonna learn about that character through however, they say they’re you know, The generic line is this now our job as writers is to take the generic line and do the specific to character line You know this character thinks this this character Believes that everything is sexual if you know what I mean, you know and there’s that barista the does that there’s the barista that you know No matter what you the opposite of the pepper, you know, whatever no matter what you do. It’s always a terrible day for them There’s the there’s the barista that thinks that everyone’s out to get them. It’s the paranoid barista It’s like, you know, so you know, why are you asking about whether we have you know? And it’s like all these are different characters and they come out through basically the same pieces of dialogue set in different ways So think about how the character comes out through dialogue and that makes it individual and and interesting You know the instead of saying the normal line, we now have the little spin on the line Which makes it a better line of dialogue? hopefully you created a Unique enough character or a character with an with a strong enough sense of who they are or what they’re you know how you would describe that character and what their journey is gonna be Emotional journey is going to be that the words kind of they kind of they don’t write themselves necessarily but they but but it’s it’s like the track that the train is running on so so, you know you you know What the characters about you know where they’re gonna go, you know what they’re doing, right? You know what they’re doing wrong and and and What you want them to be and how they talk needs to match that Basis of who they are if you get the note that all your characters sound the same first of all you get a look at the attitude the other things to look at are things like characters vocabulary because You don’t want all of your characters to have the same vocabulary that you do each each character has different words for things Common words are the main thing to look at character says yes, no Right wrong all the words that pop up again and again and you need to find the individual way for each character to say things So one character might say no another character might say nope. No siree, and these things are getting character related You look at the character go how would this character say? No, and What I usually do is I’ll generate a list of yes knows Truffaut any words is gonna pop up again again And then find the one that is that character and go okay. He’s saying it this way This also comes up with curse words. Can I curse in this? Oh, you may awesome so Curse words are one of those things I found of my favorite curse word is shit Because I wrote a script and then when I was reading through it I found out that when or anything goes wrong with any of my characters They open their mouths and shit comes out. And so I thought that’s not possible. They can’t all beat me So what I wanted to do is individualize their curse words So I went through the script and found different ways for them to curse and each character had their own distinctive curse and when I came to one of the characters name was Carter I Just off the top of my head came up with Kitty crap That’s just kiddy crap And when I used kitty crap I went this now changes that character into something even better than it was So I went back and made him he was a surfer dude, and now I made him a southern surfer, dude Which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on screen. And so now he has sort of these weird phrases that are like, you know Down-home phrases and surfer language all at once and so I thought that makes us a totally individual character But word choice is one of those things where we each have our different vocabulary. And so that’s gonna come out another thing about Dialogue is that we all speak differently there are characters that you know put in a word like, you know every few words, you know, and Like I don’t know like and those things which you use a little sparingly, but nonetheless Create a different rhythm for that character If you look at Yoda Yoda is the most messed up sentence structure ever because he speaks backwards, but he speaks backwards and there’s you know there’s memes that are like Yoda memes that have like the backwards Yoda talk and That’s such a distinctive type of dialogue if you can come up with dialogue like that There will be people that will write that stuff and you’ll know it’s Yoda right away and that’s what you want to do is basically come up with dialogue that has a sentence structure kind of a thing Use of like pet words like like or you know or whatever a different vocabulary for common words and also different vocabulary maybe education has has differences one of the things I love about Elmore Leonard novels is He takes guys who’ve done a lot of time in prison and they read in prison So they have vocabularies that are much better than any of the cops because they’ve had a lot of time to do some reading So he has these characters who have just like amazing Vocabularies who are crooks which makes them interesting characters But it makes sense because you know a lot of prison time to read so again Their vocabularies are better than the cops the thing that I love about When you’re reading at Elmore Leonard novel is when he goes to a character the description part is written in that characters voice So he just jumps into that character and you’re already seeing the world through that character’s eyes before we get to Them speaking and it already is in their voice. I don’t know what that has to do with anything, but it’s cool If you watched Justified there’s there’s a great example of an educated criminal because that guy you know Is the smartest cleverest again clever a criminal thing, you know, but he’s he’s he’s smart He’s clever he can i’ll talk people with his Amazing vocabulary, which is better than mine with it, which is another thing when you’re the writer You don’t have to have you know, all these words. You just have to know how to look them up I like to talk a lot about contrast. So we have two characters in the scene. It’s really always more interesting if the characters are Contrasted. So if a character is speaking in a formal way so somebody was an academic or a professor or doctor a nice piece in a formal way make sure that the person that he’s Interacting with speaks in a more slangy way or you know more contracted way because that’s gonna make you’re gonna create that contrast You know just like in painting if you you want to highlight the color blue you surround it with yellow right? It’s opposite So it’s the same thing with characters a lot of the techniques in in the dialogue chapter in the book are about individuality How do you create individual voices cuz having all the characters sound the same is a very common problem with dialogue it’s usually the writers voice and you know, and You know Sorkin has actually Been criticized for that that all these characters sound the same But you know when I when I talk about his dialogue and I show clips and actual scripts you can show that you know He actually does individualize and the characters sound different so it’s an unfair criticism, but but you have to do that, you know it helps if if there’s some, you know difference in in character speech or cadence or Contractions versus You know stilted writing grammatically correct training I think what you always want to look for as a writer is if you’ve got two or more characters in the scene You want to create a situation where they want opposing things or or? Because otherwise, there’s no conflict or one way to look at it is every scene is a power grab Everybody wants to take control of the situation in what way that means to them. And so, how are they? sort of Secretly jockeying for position, you know, like he and I do like which of us. We’re all just worried We’re worried about which of us looks smarter. See that’s what this whole interview has been the other thing that You said about the quite the the desires on the part of the character? I was thinking I know you said there’s a lot more than two. But two more I would think about as the writer Besides What were the two you said? What does the character well know that the two different objectives. Yeah Basically what I broke it down to Michael is what I call the public Objective right in other words if I asked fact anybody in this room now, what what are you doing here? What do you want? What’s your objective right now? We could talk about we’re doing this interview. That’s our public objective Then there’s underneath a deep underneath is a private objective which may not even be recognized Well, yeah, that’s what I was it may be in the unconscious. What’s driving? that character to Try to do that right and one way I would look at it. It’s not quite the same as a desire is to ask What is the character hiding from the other person? Consciously. What is she hiding from him? And what is she hiding from herself? what’s the thing that she’s not yet aware of that is really driving her and You know underneath especially in the first half or 3/4 of the movie towards the end you’d hoped that all that would come to the surface but Deception and secrecy are very very powerful in telling a story Because they add a whole new layer of conflict they get into this inner journey stuff And they’ll and the more conflict on the more layers the more you’re gonna pull in your audience. That’s good I like the hiding thing. I See because I was into that. Yeah, there’s subconscious or the unconscious or the, you know, unaware of but the hiding and Deception is secrecy. That’s great. I’m gonna steal that can I steal the oh sure. I’ll get yours. Thank you No, I’ll you can still use it. I mean I’ve got taking it forever. Okay, you want to share it? You don’t want to steal it. No, I’m not gonna stay. Yeah, I’m not gonna clear that my job is to look better I’ll give you credit for it. Okay, good. Okay, because we know my stated objective is to look smarter I think we yes and I’m not trying and I’m trying to help you with I appreciate that. I’ll help you think you’re winning Thank you. Let’s move on. That was great. Let’s move on A lot of writers don’t realize you know, they’re so interested in story. And you know, how may I doing that? You know not to to end it Instead of thinking of how would this person express themselves in this situation to make me feel that I’m part of this scene So that I could put myself in their place and feel what they’re doing through the words I would just add that that that is what drafting is for because if one draft you’re gonna be focused on the story and then maybe when you’ve got the story you’re gonna look at word choice and another draft and then you’re gonna look at the dialogue and you Know really polish the dialogue by and large you write a script you turn it in you get notes they’ll and then then the notes Come with dialogue issues. I don’t understand this line. This isn’t funnier love that line this works This doesn’t you know, could you add a little bit put a little twist on it? That’s duplicated. You know that kind of thing But which is very helpful and it’s all like I look at the scripts It’s just this big piece of clay that you know, you’re constantly molding and shaping and you know It’s just sort of moving with and trying to find the shape to it And until you have your you know, the piece of pottery that you’re trying to make You know, it’s it’s a lot a lot of changes, you know, they always say they say the writing is rewriting, you know And that’s really you know, and that’s so important. You know, I’m a big believer in rewriting I’m fine about rewriting as long as it makes sense And that it’s not just to do it To because you do make things better. You can’t get it on one fell swoop At least I can you know you you have to write and rewrite and sort of really work on it and let think about it and get some distance from the Material to you know, so that you can sort of look at it with your own fresh eyes and you have a much better sense of what works and what doesn’t work one of the Best questions you can ask yourself for every single line of dialogue in your scene So write the dialogue first draft just do what you want to do. Don’t worry about that but When you reread the dialogue Ask yourself for every line. Why is that character saying this? Why is the character saying that specific line? Most of the time will be because they’re responding to what so they’re reacting to something. That’s fine but a Lot of the times you will find that a character is saying something because you want the character to say that not because the character Something in let’s see another specific time So you got to know what the character wants and then every line of dialogue is a strategy For that character to get what they want and if that dialogue is not that then you rewrite the line until it fits that In the 70s and 80s talk differently in the 90s and the lows, you know I mean it it’s it’s over the four days of 50s. It’s all very different but the basic community of communicating, you know having clear Interesting words that lead you to a particular point, that’s always what you know it is it’s how you get there It’s been a little bit different and writing anything. I’ve written. That’s had a Interest on I wrote a Christmas movie for Hallmark a few years ago and and there were flashbacks to the 1920s and I had a write dialogue that was Seemed about right for the 1920s and it was just cadence, you know, it was just being a little bit more formal You know a little bit more on the nose maybe with some of the things that were said and it was fine You know, and it’s just I think it worked You know, I mean it wasn’t about using is using going back and saying now What word did they use in the 1920s for you know automobile, you know It was something I mean It wasn’t that it was just it was a feeling it was a texture to the words so that can be really fun You know because we don’t know exactly know how people talked I mean, yes, we have movies from back then and we can see but we’re still filtering those things through it through a contemporary perspective so it’s not gonna be quite like it was back then and You want people to be able to relate to it and understand it as a guy with gray in my hair? You know, one of the problems often is is my vocabulary is different than current, you know 15 to 25 year old vocabulary and so part of that is you kind of have to Remain a little current into what’s going on in the world and you know listen to slang that there’s there’s two theories on slang and one is to basically keep current with what’s How people are speaking which whether that is actually going down to the mall with your two people go to a mall anymore That’s probably that’s dated right there So, but anyway go down to wherever the young people go into your skate park You know and record people and figure out what the slang is or the other way to do it is the clueless Version where you create your own slang because that way if you create slang for today for today’s youth Then that film slang doesn’t work in for tomorrow’s youth its jeepers, you know It’s like, you know it doesn’t work but clueless decided that they were gonna take they were gonna create their own slang so that it would be Even though it doesn’t really work cuz that’s he’s totally Baldwin now has no meaning whatsoever But basically they created their own Slang for that movie and by creating their own slang. They came up with something that we hadn’t heard before so that also made it more interesting dialogue, but really you if you’re if you’re a writer and you’re writing for Today’s audience. You have to sort of it still Still know what today’s audience sounds like and that deals with stories as well. Just the story concepts because You know It’s like I I know a writer who’s my age who is still writing movies for Julie Andrews and and that’s never gonna happen You know It’s like you can write you can write for the past in the past unless you have a time machine You can’t sell that script for me I grew up watching 70s movies and gritty 70s movies are great, but I don’t own a time machine I can’t go if I wrote one. I can’t really go back and sell it So even though I still might write one of those just for my own personal You know Those are tough sales They’re they do everyone. So well pop through and I think part of that ends up being there based on a novel so you Lose it Killing me softly what the hell is the name know that there’s a Brad Pitt movie? My memories all gone, but there’s like a seventh there was a recent 70s film. That was somehow made today And it was a crime film. It was totally hit the gritty feel at the you know The same sort of a 70s feel but those are so few and far between writing for the wrong time period is a mistake Good dialog writers also have really good ears and they’re listening for the way people speak and And they remember those sorts of things hearing things writing things down writing down expressions. Like oh my god. What a great expression What does that mean? I’m gonna take that, you know or it just the dynamic between people, you know kinds of relationships Who’s talking to who at the supermarket listening to a couple arguing or? Or being too nice to each other or whatever it is. You know, it’s fascinating. I’m always writing things down listening to how people talk Listening to interesting people around how they talk and Then once you write your dialogue read it out loud, you know do a table read with friends or your writers group or Just even if you read it out loud yourself Listening to readings I find readings incredibly valuable workshopping And films and TV should be done the same way Actors are not shy about telling you what doesn’t work for them. Just like singers are not shy about telling a songwriter Hey, you know when I land on that, it doesn’t go the words don’t go with the notes Sort of a simple answer to your question though is read your dialogue aloud. Yes, very good point And I don’t know you can start using a world that that’s not Coming off my tongue very easily. I don’t think I want to ask somebody to say that you know When composers compose and you’re writing for an orchestra? and you don’t know how to play the French horn and you can’t play the oboe and Quite often after it’s done. You have people play through the parts and they say that’s unplayable You can’t finger it that way and they have to go back and they have to change their parts Because they’re not writing for that instrument right now where we’re reading through the play We might directors dividing the play into beads and sections and and we’re really focusing on yeah after we’ve read through it all together Now we’re focusing on the individual words and to see exactly what’s working. And you know, what what words really don’t quite make sense So what what did I have in my mind that the actresses aren’t necessarily Feeling or getting or they don’t quite know how to say it or the director isn’t sure and that’s an amazing process You know, it’s like a fantastic process. So being able to hone the words It’s kind of rare, you know, dude just it just only a table read of your script before something is produced Which doesn’t always happen is really really helpful. You have to hear other voices of the ones in your head You know, you have to hear them say the words have actors read it out loud I mean, they don’t have to be professional actors, but just you and a friend read it out loud. Listen to how it flows I think that can be really helpful people think for example that Objectivity in the world exists, but it doesn’t if if three people walk into this room Would they all see the same thing? It’s he chairs rug desk know If an interior designer was to walk in this room, they would get nauseous If a carpenter came in they’d be looking at the shelves plumb If a psychologist came in they’d be looking at the titles of the books and if a chiropractor came in They’d be looking at our posture and saying I see money coming my way slouching but the the eye doesn’t tell the brain what it sees the brain tells the eyes what to look for and So they I didn’t know that and so actors Are constantly looking at when they’re seeing any extreme and behavior. They’re paying attention to the littlest things You know, it’s not just that his voice raises, but what’s he doing with his hands while he’s doing it? how is this posture changed it’s gonna use that and So again the same thing good writers when they hear people talk They’re saying did that person get tongue-tied when she got really angry or did this whole slew of stuff? just come rolling off the tongue and does this sound like something she said a lot of times or Is this something that you know, is she saying it legato or staccato? You know It’s like I’m so angry you I could just bust or is it I’m so angry at you All right cook just bust and you all these things. They’re listening for these things saying wow Listen how the emotions coming out in every people doing stuff. That’s the way I want to write the dialogue So it’s you look at what you’re interested in And if you’re a good dialogue writer, you don’t just think of what words they’re gonna say It’s what have I seen people do when they’re trying to demonstrate them when they’re demonstrating that emotion How do the words come out pay attention the world around you? and you know, I something I watch I’ll watch the movie or something on TV or whatever and and I’ll look at like the the the the run of dialogue who speak Manama phenomenal speech, you know, and it by You know phenomenal piece of dial, you know I loved the newsroom there and so I can show the HBO show and and you know, I would literally just like just Look at it just play back over and over though certain sections of that show And and the way that dialogue was constructed and you know He’s such a genius in terms of Constructing dialogue and the word that he has is people use but you can learn so much from that you can be so inspired and and then put your own voice into that kind of thing and again a lot of a lot of writing dialogue is cadence and and personality and and things like that and trying to have Characters sound different, you know, so that not every character sounds exactly the same, you know You give every character their own voice, which is tricky it’s hard to do But but that’s that’s also really important and you have to create a little bit of you have to create character You know beneath, you know character that’s that’s kind of driving that dialogue for that. Even if it’s just the you know about a Supporting character somebody we don’t see very much But yeah, you kind of you got to pay attention to what’s around you it’s you know, the best things are out of reality When you are doing a very contained like a low-budget that has a lot to do with it too because a Lot of times the people are sitting and talking right? You’re in a room. You’re in a house or whatever So they’re sitting and talking but I think making sure that that pacing is good So it just doesn’t feel like really, you know people just explaining things that’s kind of the death of people’s dialogue is when people over explain and they don’t know how to sort of weave in that that exposition kind of nicely Then it really just kind of like hangs there. That’s that’s not good writing. I think the biggest mistake is is over explaining and not knowing how to tunnel The background of the story into the story instead of laying it out Like we just developed a brilliant screenplay the last several years in which the opening conversation Just is not convincing because there is no other Explanation for the words in the conversation other than explaining to the audience what’s going on? And and that’s a hard to avoid mistake because you know, you’ve got to explain what’s going on But if you do it overtly the audience is gonna not believe the dialogue They’re not going to believe, you know, they’re gonna not be able to suspend their disbelief so you have to sneak these things in to the story at times when they’re needed and Not too much too soon one of the common mistake the the root mistake beneath that mistake is thinking that the audience is Not as smart as they are. It’s it’s looking down on your audience. There’s ways to make sure the exposition and your dialogue matches the objective for example, if if you know, I’m suspected of murder and you’re you’re the You know detective who’s asking me questions right and tell me where were you and I didn’t commit the murder well, whatever I’m gonna say is My desire to make you think I didn’t do the murder So there’s an there’s a reason why I’m saying that line I didn’t do it. I was at the movies saying at the movies position But it’s connected to my desire to convince you that I was not the killer You see so the exposition matches the objective of the character you know so there’s ways to do this displaying it, you know, there’s techniques to Make sure the exposition is settled, you know part of a part of conflict part of your desire line, etc There’s a lot of stuff you could do, but that’s the lesson you really have to know That’s the that’s the most important thing make sure you know what every character once in the scene. Make sure that what they say matches that objective so I always bring out David Mamet was you know genius at dialogue and he said once Nobody says anything Unless they want something So unless you want something nobody says anything because nobody’s gonna say, you know, hey I’m a trustworthy character Right, I mean if somebody said that to you you’re not gonna you gonna be thinking whoa, why is he telling me this right? there’s always a reason why so there’s always a reason and if we know what the reason is in the movie if you know what The character wants or you’re trying to figure out what the character want. That’s more interesting then Somebody dumping exposition, you know characters would just dump exposition It’s just boring because it’s not it’s not connected to a desire line even characters who disagree with each other Even though that might be kind of interesting because there’s some tension there If if we don’t know what they want, it’s gonna be boring So you see you see this a lot with amateur scenes of people like oh I need a conflict So my characters are just gonna argue and so you have the people arguing back and forth, but it doesn’t doesn’t mean anything It’s just right because we don’t know what they want. That’s really what makes something interesting is intention and obstacle to that On-the-nose dialogue could be one of the worst I Like to say sometimes that Talking Heads dialogue where it’s just two characters talking to each other kind of add each other and Then Q&A sessions are the worst and that’s where one character keeps asking another questions and then they just keep answering it So it’s almost like an interview and if that goes on for too long It really tires out the reader and it just gets really what we minoes It makes Crips awful is when characters tell you everything so Examples are If a husband and a wife, let’s say a wife saw her husband having lunch with another woman that She didn’t know about and he comes home from work. He’s like hi, honey. How’s your day? And She were to say What she’ll probably say in real life is it nothing? with that kind of you know, I mean Matthew waters a master of the subtext I Recommend looking at just about any episode of Mad Men, but much less interesting so or she might say that the husband comes in and says What did you do today? and I was in a similar situation once with and I did not say I Saw you with another woman having lunch today. I wanted him to like I wanted to maybe catch him in a lie. I said or actually, like well, I You know, what did she do today? And he said nothing special really? Did you have lunch somewhere interesting? What are you talking about and like maybe one of the things that I loved is that if you really Play along with that. You can also play with the audience in terms of them thinking Oh, yeah, he was having an affair then we find out that it was an interior decorator and he was surprising his wife by he just bought a little vacation home and He was making sure that or you just like was renting in Malibu a place and he wanted to make sure all this stuff was special for their anniversary and then what can happen is if she keeps testing him and testing him and and she like starts bringing up old stuff about how he pisses her off that scene could end with Him not telling her what the surprise was and the couple deciding you never trust me You know what? I was gonna do something nice with for you and screw you. I want a divorce I’m just the spinning here, and I’m not saying that that’s You know They the greatest scene But that’s an example of when you play with subtext versus characters Saying everything that they’re thinking another example if you take streetcar named desire with Blanche and Stanley and Stella and if you had Blanche saying well, I Really have been working as a prostitute and I’m depressed and I have nowhere else to live Game over like not very interesting. So if you think about it in those terms Yeah, it’s And it’s really reflecting how people are in real life People don’t always say exactly what they’re thinking and feeling you find that when you start writing dialogues Sometimes the characters talk differently than you then you’d expect that Evolves, you know and that and that can be very interesting and sometimes your character changes as a result of your dialogue But by and large, you know that you know, it’s we’re using our voices. We’re using voices of people We know we’re using Cadence’s we’re using regional, you know words You know, it’s it’s a combination of a lot of things but it does in a way it does write itself You know, you’re you’re the driver but you know, it does kind of roll out But again a dialogue, you know, it’s about how do you write natural dialogue How do you how do you write the way people really speak and it’s cadence and it’s it’s it’s simplicity of words. It’s it’s You know expressing saying the most imagine that the most amount of ideas and the least amount of Letters basically at least amount of words and to keep it all moving forward. There’s this thing like a bumper sticker Actually, I don’t call it Pat Patrick Shane Duncan who wrote courage under fire and mr. Holland’s opus calls it bumper sticker dialogue and So what it is is it’s he wrote He did some rewrite work on a Chuck Norris movie and he didn’t get credit on-screen but everyone has the bumper sticker that says if I want your opinion I beat it out of you and he wrote that line And so if you come up with those lines go go ahead make my day, you know and all those things That’ll end up on a bumper sticker or a t-shirt. You know. Those are the gold we’re looking for and In the film noir class. I did out of the past just has a line after line after line you go you could engrave that on a bar of gold and it would increase the value and you know if we can come up those lines that are clever that people remember

100 thoughts on “10 Tips On Writing Better Dialogue

  • walidovitch walid Post author

    Great video 🙌 good job

  • Aditya Tak Post author


  • Steve George Post author

    This video I’ve watched, what, four times now. It’s very inspirational.

  • Arora Thorne Post author

    this is fantastic, so glad I'm learning this before the wrestle

  • Michael Moutsatsos Post author

    Truly boring

  • Kevin Pickell Post author

    Anyone want a masterclass on writing dialogue? Go read the crime novel The Friends Of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins

  • Ashutosh Ghosh Post author

    Peter Desberg taking information or his source of inspiration from most natural way,actually from the people you are surrounded(sometime listening the stranger)with …that's actually very helpful,it makes you good in your trade & better in your social life too,Is there any other videos that I could have Peter Desberg's tips ??


    Kram…at the END? Girl👀. Killin' me. lolllll

  • FabFilms Post author

    This just improved my short film ten times as much 😊👍

  • M.A.Samantha Pushpa Kumara Post author

    wow amazing guidance..Thanks lot

  • kingquazy Post author

    I'm 9:36 into this, and I just want to say this is one of the most informative and useful things I watched yet. Thank you so much for this. This next hour was already worth it!!!

  • Mango Steel Post author

    I never wrote anything in my life I just stick to music but after seeing this video I know in a few years I could write something great. Especially the overwriting part!

  • Little Reuby Post author

    I like to just start a sentence, and let the characters vibe off each other.. Thanks for this upload

  • cinemar Post author

    Just watch game of thrones and then do the exact opposite with your writing.

  • 909sickle Post author

    Most people I know dislike dialog where everyone has the "perfect comeback". It's very unrealistic and cringy. But I liked most of the advice here.

  • revengeof thenipple Post author

    "speaking in belches"

  • Pride Post author

    I had a dialogue ad on this vid

  • Daren Colby Post author

    Wait some of this is completely contradictory lol. Some of them are saying “hey make sure to make it sound natural like how real people talk” and some are like “get to the point. Good dialogue doesn’t sound like real people”

    I don’t get it lol

  • eltravos99 Post author

    The Meg? Sharknado? WTF is this bullshit? Pulp Fiction and Adaptation and Citizen Kane have a ton of dialogue that defy everything these MORONS have said. What a bunch of BS. Delete this please.

  • Reginald Dorsey Post author

    It's fun, clipped poetry. But it's often hard to follow without cc/subtitles because it's unnatural speech.

  • Monarch Post author

    What a valuable piece of info

  • SmartK8 Post author

    Thank you. This video really got my creative juices going. I finished my rom-com in just two days. I integrated the new experience and it's called now: Untitled Sharknado sequel.

  • R. Simpson Post author

    from one view, women 'communicate'verbally more than men.IF that is true, could a script about a woman ,not be more dialogue oriented than a man's conversation?

  • meg Post author

    47:00 was clearly b4 the surge in remakes and reboots that we now have these days.

  • Joe Ludwig Post author

    This is pure gold! Every screenwriter should be watching Film Courage.

  • IScreamtube Post author

    Why are they interviewing the writer for sharknado? That’s like interviewing the screenwriter for titanic ii. Why would you?

  • Eric Paiz Post author

    How did I just find this? Aspiring wriiter here

  • Eric Paiz Post author

    "You cant finger it that way"

  • subbi r Post author

    Ggggreat!Looking into…that's dialog for films; not speaking into. Thank you, awesome.

  • Hastin Nuraini Post author


  • Katya Vensel Post author

    great video! little comment though, being this all interviews there is little motivation to actually stare at the screen, so the silent section cuts are very easy to miss.

  • Dez Parker Post author

    Just checked out Hunter Levin's IMDB: Mutant Vampire Zombies from the 'Hood!, American Warships, Apocalypse Earth, Sharknado. "Tried" to watch a trailer for "Apocalypse Earth", which lasts for 1:12. Maybe the actual film is amazing, but I couldn't watch the entire trailer. I don't know if any of these screenwriters interviewed here have written one amazing screenplay that got made into a great movie. I'm sorry but I'd like to hear how Alexander Payne adapated "Sideways", or how Mamet wrote "The Verdict".

  • Dez Parker Post author

    With all due respect, if one wants to learn to write good dialogue, I think it's better to watch great movies and pay close attention to the dialogues in them as opposed to trying to get lessons from screenwriters who, frankly, write very bad screenplays and bad dialogue.

  • cashmere brown Post author


  • edd m Post author

    I wonder how many of us scrolled down to the comments just after noticing that the Sharknado writer is out there spilling tips…

  • nothinmulch Post author

    Why tf would i take dialogue advice from the dude who wrote Sharknado? That's like interviewing for acting advice from youtube stars.

  • Michael Tellurian Post author

    There's more than 10 tips here.

  • Jacob Oswald Post author

    I feel like this may be bad advice considering these helpful tips are coming from the sharknado writer

  • Laokaam Post author

    I don't think we need the "drink it" part with this example.

    My take on that one (with (Lambert Wilson as the bad guy obviously):

    BAD GUY give GOOD GUY the poison and points a gun to BILLY's head.

    BAD GUY (smirking):
    – Go ahead.

    GOOD GUY drinks the poison.>>

    Much better? 😀

  • Nabiel Setiawan Post author

    An hour ten tips


  • overlex Post author

    Writing tips for the Sharknado guy? 

    Can we expect acting tips from Tommy Wiseau too??

  • Karen Donald Post author

    Nothing worse than dated script using millenial speak. Sloppy

  • jeff said Post author

    My script writing is currently in 2019.

  • Axe Battler Post author

    I like how all these writers only made B movies

  • Desmondo Jose-Ruiz Post author

    I'll save everyone the hour watch with a 20-second dialogue masterclass: "Hi, can I help you? Can I have a dozen red roses please. Oh hey, Johnny, I didn't know it was you. Here you go. That's me! How much is it? That'll be $18. Here you go, keep the change … Hi, doggie! You're my favorite customer! Thanks a lot, bye-bye. Bye-bye!"

  • DIAR Post author

    Good information here, thanks.

  • Godot Post author

    Too many ads, unsubscribed

  • Kay Hawkins Post author

    I think in a lot of series people talk to much and in some cases the dialogue seems contrived especially when giving backstory so obviously as the intent of the dialogue. In reality people just don't talk that much most is just pleasantries. Very few people have I had deep meaningful conversation and the most is conversation with no focus jumping from one topic to the next seldom related.

  • Farman Shah Alwi Post author

    I going to make a short film about a group of kids living on an island, it will focus on the life of these kids once they're out from school and after they finish house chores. They are grouped like gangs and they're trying to get or defending their territories from each other with brooms, belts, clothes hangers and stir fry pan shields and a black dog with a wes anderson style mixed with quantin's twist. Im trying to watch as many youtube vids about movie making to understand how to make this from no experience at all. I will only use a sony a6000 and a gimbal with the 18-105mm lens. Wish me luck hahaha

  • mochtesh Post author

    Is it just me or does that William Martell guy sound just like Neil Degrasse Tyson. It's uncanny.

  • BenRangel Post author

    Some films go too far with "less is more". For example, they might be so desperate to avoid repetition – that the audience misses out on what some characters are really about – because their motivations are only shown in a single line of dialogue.
    I often watch commentaries and find that I'm surprised that the people who made the film have vastly different views of the characters than I do as a viewer. For example, there might be one scene where one character finds a mystery and decides to be late for work to investigate. I might figure "Oh, this situation is so extraordinary that the character does something he normally never does".
    But then I hear the director go "This character is always impulsive, as you can see an example of here"

    Then I realize that there were probably more scenes/lines showing how impulsive he was – before someone cut them with the motivation "less is more"

  • Olga Rome Post author

    That’s funny like lots of them give examples from what is happening while the interview is filmed. Using what they have at hand as if they can use anything as example since they are thinking about these questions all the time. It makes sense since they really ARe thinking about these questions all the time:)

  • Madarda Uchiha Post author

    10 tips in 1 hour what the hell

  • Josh Chiavetta Post author

    Everyone on here is a hack or has-been. Why are we listening to these guys?

  • Azad Entertainment Post author

    Pulp Fiction is shit!

  • The universe Post author

    the guy at 2:20 is like the white neil degrasse tyson 😀

  • Dominick Post author

    Seriously: You are giving advice from the writer of Sharknado? Really.

  • Dominick Post author

    OH yeah? Well the jerk store called and they're running out of you!!!

  • Dominick Post author

    I find it fascinating how writers have a hard time using the spoken word but they can write it just fine.

  • Sid Vicious Post author

    the moment i heard tarantino’s name 3 times in the first 10 minutes i decided to close this video. Its just fanboys speaking. None of these guys seem original.

  • MrParkerman6 Post author

    The best way to write dialogue is to just become split personality on paper and talk to yourself as different characters.

  • Justin Cole Post author

    This is reaffirming to hear this from people who can make a living at writing. Thank you.

  • Steve Post author

    Lots of great YouTube trash talk here about people getting paid to write scripts. Highly enjoyable.

  • Fire Lion Post author

    1:02:30 that line 😀

  • Mosqidou Post author

    Excellent Video

  • Mitesh Take Post author

    Great stuff ! Thanks !

  • Marcia Post author

    A wealth of information here from these writers – Thank you! I need William Martell as a mentor – so infectious.

  • Kevin Harvey Post author

    The best line in Casablanca is when the German officer asks Rick if he would like seeing marching through New York Rick Told him that t here were neighborhoods in New York they shouldn't invade

  • Joel Binns Post author

    The video I've scene, it help me in everyway

  • Nick X Post author

    I'm a dialogue heavy writer and I love it. I think it depends on the genre of the film. I'm cool with it as long as it makes sense. I just personally don't like a drawn out scene or a scene that wasn't necessary to add.

  • annmarie barrett Post author

    Loving William C Martell's opinions. … very enlightening .

  • annmarie barrett Post author

    3 thumbs up (borrowed 1) for Karl Iglesias, YOU ARE THA MAN. Gave alot of really great info.
    Thanks also to Gary Goldstein.

  • MT3chWrit3R Post author

    There is an amazing book called "Write Dazzling Dialogue," that will help any writer struggling with dialogue! It is on Amazon, just search the title.

  • UNKNOWN LOVE Post author


  • James Post author

    It's one thing to write ideal dialogue, it's another for the producer(s) to understand it.

  • Jetto Post author


  • jürg der Grosse Post author

    William C. Martell: Although I understand that dialogue cannot always better tell a story, we still have to ask ourselves: What's all this obsession about with telling a story in images rather than with words? Old day's gurus' nostalgia where there was no sound available? Or asked a bit harder: What would be "the remains of the day" from Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three
    (USA 1961), if there was no dialogue? Fräulein Ingeborg (Lilo Pulver) dancing on a table on a Khachaturian melody?

  • Imperial Post author

    Fabulous. I have to pause very often to complete note-taking!

  • Timothy Sheridan Post author

    great movies need great dreaners.

  • Timothy Sheridan Post author

    interestingly i dont recal any of these films, but its so interesting..

  • original songs by jonathan lewis Post author

    Thanks nerds

  • Andre EWERT Post author

    ,, how people inhabit a space in a certain time'' I like that explanation..she says..it rarely makes it intact on the screen but that s the purpose..I like that approach..it adds Freshness

  • srtm77 Post author

    The best dialogue I've ever seen I read in books. I am rarely impressed by dialogue in movies and TV, even by many critically acclaimed writers. In Hollywood, there's too many people involved in the creative process. This muddies the clarity of the dialogue, the characters and the story.

  • Daniel Clark Post author

    Lots of people putting down the writer of Sharknado. Well, that flick got made and the writer got paid, so what's the complaint? The thing spawned multiple sequels and has plenty of fans. It may not be Hamlet, but it wasn't trying to be.

    Also, Bruce Willis' character wasn't saying "none" to the question about filtered cigarettes, he was saying "non" as in the French word for "no". He drops several bits of French throughout the film. He picked it up from his girlfriend, Fabienne. I've got the script on my bookshelf.

  • Ryan Winch Post author

    These writers really like the cheating husband scenario…… Just saying.

  • Wendy Noto Post author

    Are you trying to say that these are all smart little girls now old women wow

  • lajeteefan Post author

    And how many of the most memorable lines were ad-libbed?

  • Leto85 Post author

    I find it funny how when people in real life would speak like people in movies do we would sound crazy, while from a movie character's perspective we might as well sound way too on the nose. Like we're writing our own dialogue. Wait a sec… are we?

  • Lisette Reeves Post author

    Love the dynamics between these two 39:00

  • Lisette Reeves Post author

    50:00 very true and interesting.

  • Leto85 Post author

    40:17 I'm glad you've left this part in. That's just great funny character interaction right there.

  • Matt Campbell Post author

    Realizing one of the writers giving lessons was coming from the writer of Sharknado made me lose respect for the whole thing.

  • Anya Siberia Post author

    Really wish Dan and David would have watched this one before beginning to write Season 8.

  • Greg Camp Post author

    I get tired of the technique in so many thrillers that delays the plot solely by having characters withhold information from each other for no reason other than the writer needs things to go slowly. It's just a lazy way to keep the story moving.

  • 787brx8 Post author

    So glad I don't write anymore! What A waste of time..

  • Caio Post author

    this is pure gold. thank you!

  • MovieGirl Post author

    Best video ever on dialogue! Thank you for this masterclass! What a find!

  • Jordan Kelly Post author

    I wish there were more women in this video…

  • Austin Kocher Post author

    — Can I curse in this?
    — Yes, you can.
    — AWESOME.

  • Edward Amaral Post author

    So funny. The older guy with mustache can't get to the point. lol after talking about get to the point in writing.

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