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Don’t Do Dreadful Dialogue Mary

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Presentation on theme: "Don’t Do Dreadful Dialogue Mary"— Presentation transcript:

1 Don’t Do Dreadful Dialogue Mary Evans @MaryAliceEvans

2 Golden Rule #1 Speaking and writing are different things. Writing is taught. Speaking is caught.

3 Things that affect our speech Accent (location, class, profession, gender) Dialect (upbringing, current home, pretence) Lexis (education, class, self-perception and projection) Emotional/Physical state (in control, distraught, drunk, unwell)

4 But Remember… Speech can be the truth or a lie We choose how we speak. We choose what we say. Speech can be very revealing. It can also be a mask.

5 Golden Rule #2 We rarely say what we mean. We speak in subtext.

6 Subtext In drama, more than any other art form, people don’t say what they mean. It isn’t always a lie. It isn’t always fudging or denying the truth. Sometimes characters think they’re telling the truth. Sometimes they don’t know the truth. In great drama, there are the words themselves and the truth beneath the words. There is the text and the subtext. They are not the same. They’re not supposed to be. (2011: 1) Seger, L., (2011) Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese

7 How to bring out the subtext What’s underneath the words? Two characters bump into each other. They automatically say sorry. But how? Gritted teeth/laughs/straightens clothes/stands ground/defensive/mortified/dismissive/tearfu lly/flirtatiously/aggressively

8 Action + Dialogue = the moment of the scene

9 Golden Rule #3 Speech is a mess. We don’t talk neat and proper, like.

10 Messy Speech Verbal ticks (“like”, “er”, “yeah”, “you know what I mean”) Interruptions (by someone else, or a new thought) Zeitgeist (hashtag, smiley face, LOL) Humour

11 Verbal Rules Swearing Quoting Ending sentence on a question Repetition Deciding the verbal rule of your character will bring them to life. It can also represent change.

12 Golden Rule #4 Characters always have an agenda. They will have a verbal strategy to achieve it.

13 Verbal strategies Flattery Avoidance Exaggeration Self-deprecation Wise-cracking Complaining Lying Honesty Silence

14 What’s on the agenda? Give your characters exciting, opposing agendas Take the agenda and ask what the verbal strategy is to achieve that goal Ie She wants money. He wants a second date. How do they go about getting what they want?

15 Golden Rule #5 Characters don’t tell each other what they already know. Avoid awful exposition.

16 The Writer’s Riddle How to get information across without unnecessary exposition. Characters know things, but must communicate to an audience who don’t.

17 An Exercise Write a scene where two grown sisters have just returned from their mother’s funeral. Convey that without using the words: Mother Death (or Dying) Funeral

18 My Effort Georgia: If one more person tells me that was a lovely service, I’ll arrange one for them. Chloe: Who was that bloke with the beard? Georgia: Mum’s accountant. Chloe: She had an accountant? She had money? Georgia: Not any more. I just paid her accountant.

19 To avoid exposition… … ban obvious words

20 Some more Golden Rules Come in late and leave early. Enter on a conflict and leave on a question. Cut out the chatter – greetings and introductions. Put “buttons” on the end of scenes – end the scene on a great line, seal the scene and move the story forward

21 A Useful Read Writing Dialogue for Scripts: Rib Davis (808.2/DAV)

22 Another Useful Read Making a Good Script Great: Linda Seger (808.23/SEG)

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