The Truth About Writing Dialog

Over a career longer than most of us have been alive and breathing, our BLLB AKA Beloved Leader Larry Brody, two of things that he is most eager to share are as follows:

  • Energy sells. Not only your pitching energy, but writing energy. Sentences that zoom from the page and into our brains, filling us with emotion.
  • Great dialog sells even more. Most readers, even the most professional of them, look down the page at the dialog first, and then if it sparks them and makes them say, “Wow!” they pay attention to what else you have to offer.

Keep both those thoughts in mind as you read this excellent and wonderfully titled piece (not written by LB, sorry) on “The art of dialogue.”

No more dialogue B.S. Here’s the truth
by Carson Reeves

The art of dialogue.

Whereas every other component of screenwriting can be taught, dialogue remains a shapeless colorless mist, something we keep trying to grab onto, yet continually come up empty.

How elusive is dialogue? Do a Google search right now. Try to find one article about dialogue that has a tip in it that you haven’t heard 17 million times already.

These people who claim to be dialogue experts can only recite the same tips Syd Field spouted 30 years ago in his best-selling screenwriting book. Come into a scene late. Leave early. Use as little exposition as possible. Blah blah blah. Oh, and here’s my favorite one: Listen to how people talk.

Oh yeah, yeah. I’ll listen to how people talk. Because people talking for 45 minutes is exactly the same as needing to write a two minute conversation in a movie.

Probably the most confusing story about dialogue that I’ve ever come across is the Thor: Ragnarok line. After professional screenwriters making millions of dollars for their months and months of work put Thor: Ragnarok together, they’re shooting the scene where Thor is about to fight someone in a gladiator arena, and out comes the Hulk. Hemsworth says the lines in the script. He then tries a few improv lines. Then there’s a Make-A-Wish kid on set that day. And he says to Chris Hemsworth, “Why don’t you try, ‘I know him. He’s a friend from work.’” Hemsworth does the line, and it not only ends up in the first trailer for the movie, but it becomes the centerpiece of the trailer and its most memorable line.

I want you to think about that for a second. A young kid, somewhere between 8-11 I’m guessing, was able to come up with the most popular line in a movie written and rewritten and developed and re-developed by Hollywood professionals, people supposedly at the very top of their profession.

Messes with your head, right?

Well, here’s what I’ve determined. While there is a randomness to dialogue that contributes to its elusiveness, there is a way to get better at it. There are five areas that influence your dialogue. And that four of them are under your control. The fifth, unfortunately, is not. But, if you can master the other four, you can write good dialogue. So what are these five things…?

Read it all at scriptshadow.net

Stephanie Bourbon on Why Agents Keep Rejecting Your Queries

The first question most new writers ask those of us who already are working professionally at the craft in various media inevitably is, “Will you read my script/book/whatever else I’ve written?”

After that gets the most tactful version of “Hell no!” the pro can come up with, most newbies swiftly move to the second most-asked question. “Why won’t the agents I write to even answer me?”

To this TVWriter™ minion’s knowledge, our pal Stephanie Bourbon has never turned down anybody who asks the first question politely, and here’s her current response to the second one, and a very helpful one it is.

Stephanie’s YouTube Channel is HERE

And her website chock full of further instruction is HERE


Former Larry Brody student Stephanie Olivieri Bourbon has found great success as a writer and illustrator. Now she’s branching out into video with a series of extremely helpful ones about – surprise! – writing and illustrating.

New Media and Made for TV Films

Remember when feature films used to be the leaders in cinematic expression?

No?

Well, come to think about it, that was pretty long ago. Here’s an interesting video about the new leaders of the media pack. Enjoy and learn, gang!

From Cinema Cartography

The old media/new media chasm

Seth Godin isn’t primarily a media guy, but he sure is a perceptive one, and the way media work is just one of his many great strengths.

Join us for a few words about the relationship between old and new media and you’ll see why our signature writing competition, PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 welcomes media old, new, and, you know, in between.

by Seth Godin

In every era, traditional media channels will diminish, dismiss and ignore the new ones. They do this at the very same time that they are supplanted by the new ones.

While they will occasionally spend some time or money testing a new medium, they rarely leap.

This is the posture of the business people/publishers, but it also has an impact on their editorial approach.

Radio shows rarely became TV shows. TV networks didn’t embrace cable as they could have. The book industry generally ignores every innovation in tech.

As late as 1994, Bryant Gumbel was spending time on network TV being befuddled by the ‘internet’. And in 1999, Conde Nast bought the print half of Wired but intentionally left the web version behind.

Twenty years ago, newspapers were in a perfect position to establish blog networks—they had their reader’s attention and advertiser’s trust. But they blinked.

New media tends to be adopted by amateurs first. And it rarely has a mass audience in the early days (because it’s new)….

Read it all at seths.blog

Learning from the Best – Lawrence Kasdan

Lawrence Kasdan on how he writes those beautiful scripts. (Don’t worry if you aren’t sure who he is. The second paragraph below will fill you in.)

How They Write a Script: Lawrence Kasdan
by Scott Meyers

“I wrote screenplays as a way to get into production. I wrote six or seven before I sold one; that was The Bodyguard. I thought if I started selling these screenplays, I’d get a chance to direct. I thought that was the way in.”

Writer-director Lawrence “Larry” Kasdan is a prolific talent who has written movies in almost every genre including the thriller Body Heat (1981), possibly greatest action adventure movie of all time Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), arguably the best of the Star Wars movies The Empire Strikes Back (1983), the ensemble drama The Big Chill (1983), the western Silverado (1985), the adaptation of a best-selling drama The Accidental Tourist (1988), and the romantic thriller The Bodyguard (1992) among many other titles. Kasdan also makes for a great interview, a thoughtful observer of the craft of filmmaking. These excerpts come from “Backstory 4”, another in the fantastic “Backstory” series by Patrick McGilligan.

ON HOW HE GOT INTO SCREENWRITING

“I was interested in writing, and when I got to Ann Arbor [University of Michigan] I started writing theater and fiction and was able to see my plays get produced. I didn’t get into the film program for a while. I was never formally part of it — I was an English literature major — but I eventually started taking film courses. Very quickly I began writing feature-length screenplays.

I wrote screenplays as a way to get into production. I wrote six or seven before I sold one; that was The Bodyguard. I thought if I started selling these screenplays, I’d get a chance to direct. I thought that was the way in.”

ON HOW HE GOT INVOLVED IN RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

“Steven [Spielberg] had purchased my script Continental Divide, which was very different from the film which resulted. The script had a kind of Hawksian speed, momentum, hopefully with about it. I don’t think the film turned out that way, which was one of those painful experiences I had early on. But Steven’s enthusiasm for it was what got me involved with him and George. I think that what they were looking for was someone who could write Raiders in the same way that [Howard] Hawks would have someone write a movie for him — a strong woman character, a certain kind of hero. So that’s what got me the job….

Read it all at blacklist.com