Dialogue is usually
the last thing you think about before writing your script. By the time
you get to this phase, the characters should be more than ready to start
talking to you; they will be if you have prepared the rest of your story
Keep the audience hungry for dialogue, using it only when you absolutely
cannot show something visually. The more dialogue you use in your film,
the less impact it will have on the viewer.
The way people talk to themselves and other people defines their own interpretations
of reality. Shakespeare has a distinct voice for each character. You should
be able to go through your script at the end, strip all the characters'
names from the dialogue, and still be able to tell who is talking. To
develop a good ear for writing realistic dialogue, listen to the various
ways people talk to each other in your own life.
Each character should have a different set of words he or she uses, which
are unique and distinct from all other characters in all other movies.
Gangsters in Oakland talk differently than the ones in New York or Vegas.
If you don't know how a gangster in your hometown talks, make it up. When
slang makes it hard to understand what is going on, you need to cut back
on it or use subtitles. "You lie like a Persian rug" sounds
more interesting in a script than "That's a lie." Let the full
glory of your character's own individual color come through in his or
her vocabulary and word choices.
2. Grammar. How does the character put words together
in a unique way? Yoda talks backward. George Bush Senior dropped the first
word of sentences: "Wouldn't do that." Some characters may like
to use tags at the end of their sentences ("Isn't it?" "Oh
wow!" "What do you think?" "Okay?" "You
hear what I'm saying?") Make up words or use old ones in new ways
relevant to your character history or backstory for tags. Try writing
the dialogue straight first, and then go back over it and experiment with
different grammar structures. Experiment with dropping words, reversing
words, and creating new ones. Have your character run off at the mouth,
not finish sentences, or add signature tags at the end. Avoid using cliche
tags. Ending a sentence with "oh shucks" is much different from
3. Mindset. No two characters view the world in the same
way. A mathematician sees everything as equations. Stockbrokers relate
everything to the market. Football players talk like they are always in
a huddle. Priests speak as if they are the voice of God. The Queen refers
to herself as "we." Use spoken metaphors that relate to your
character's history for his or her dialogue. No two people have the exact
past, future, physical attributes, socialization, experiences, or money.
What people say to themselves and others defines their reality and shows
us who they are in a sense.
12 other common speech patterns to make your dialogue sound better in
"Developing Digital Short Films"!