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

‘Mr. Jack’ and the Future of Entertainment/Art

by TVWriter™ Press Service

The French call it; Raison D’être which literally means ‘purpose.’ The phrase is infamous for the associated in philosophical circles with the trial of Socrates, where the question is asked; “Is the life lived sans Raison D’être worth redemption?”

Mr. Jack, a New Media series from writer turned director Mick Lexington takes this age-old question and asks it in the modern-day backdrop of The LES of Manhattan, the last bastion of Bohemianism in New York City, warts and all.

The crowdfunding campaign for Mr. Jack kicked off Friday, August 16. The series is based on Lexington’s novel and follows a young artist returning to New York after a self-imposed exile and his struggle to reconnect with the reality he has detached from.

The project is a collaboration of Lexington, fashion photographer turned cinematographer James M. Graham, and musician Justin Wert who, working outside his jazz roots, will deliver the a-tonal series soundtrack.

The plan is to raise enough to top off the budget to shoot the pilot episode of Mr. Jack and shop it around to raise funding for five more episodes. Says Lexington on the project, “We own the cameras and sound equipment which covers a considerable part of our expense. What we need help with is the day to day operation of shooting onsite in New York City.”

Val, the main character in Mr. Jack is the classic tragic artist archetype. He feels he is not worthy of happiness. He does not recognize that he must take responsibility for his own contentment.

Instead, Val lives vicariously through the character called Mr. Jack, who  by claiming credit for other people’s art, sleeping with other men’s wives, and substituting chemicals for his own endorphins, takes a shortcut to happiness.

Mr. Jack is Lexington’s passion project, and he is to seeking independent financing via Indiegogo to make it as a TV series without compromises.

“I had 500K on the table to develop another TV series I created. The catch was I had to work with a producer who wanted to turn to turn my drama into a slapstick action thriller. I walked away from that rather than have the project compromised.”

Lexington turned to crowdfunding because he believes it empowers the full gamut of artistic expression from the artist to the spectator.

“Before crowdfunding,” he says, “the only control the viewer had was the purchase of a ticket. With crowdfunding, it is the collaboration of creator and viewer that shapes the future of communication.”

Lexington believes that in the past entertainment and art were in essence two different things. He sees crowdfunding as facilitating their merger, putting it this way.

What is considered as art today does not challenge the audience or viewer. It anesthetizes it inebriates, but it does not transform. It should be the duty of not only the filmmaker but of every artist, regardless of medium, to pursue the objective of throwing complacency off-kilter.

I don’t believe an artist should put the responsibility for the significance of a work of art on the viewer. The artist cannot create and distribute without some rationale behind their creation. The viewer may have their own interpretation, and there is no right or wrong interpretation; beauty fails any dictate as beauty a cannot be legislated.

To Lexington, the importance of the artist lies in the truth that splendor cannot be ordered from “above.” Art has to emerge from the conjoining of artist and audience, which benefits society by allowing the creation of “entertainment” that “touches our souls, breaks our hearts, causes us to laugh, permits us to cry, and kicks our asses into a higher state being.”
.
In view of the passion Lexington feels about Mr. Jack, it clearly is his Raison D’être, to do just that.


Mick Lexington was a semi-finalist in the 2013 People’s Pilot, leading to him coming to the attention of the producer he turned later turned down. The Crowdfunding campaign for Mr. Jack kicked off Friday, August 16.

Check out the campaign at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mr-jack-new-media-web-series

See the video presentation at: https://vimeo.com/353159135

Never Forget: Superheroes were Created to be Antifa

Now that superheroes – especially Marvel superheroes – rule the entertainment spectrum, it behooves us all to know a little something about them and how they came to be. Art Spiegleman, the man behind Maus, fills us in, and includes some very uncomfortable truths about today.

Marvel Antifa Heroes
A few people we all know and love, yeah?

by Art Spiegelman

ack in the benighted 20th century comic books were seen as subliterate trash for kiddies and intellectually challenged adults – badly written, hastily drawn and execrably printed. Martin Goodman, the founder and publisher of what is now known as Marvel Comics, once told Stan Lee that there was no point in trying to make the stories literate or worry about character development: “Just give them a lot of action and don’t use too many words.” It’s a genuine marvel that this formula led to works that were so resonant and vital.

The comic book format can be credited to a printing salesman, Maxwell Gaines, looking for a way to keep newspaper supplement presses rolling in 1933 by reprinting collections of popular newspaper comic strips in a half-tabloid format. As an experiment, he slapped a 10 cents sticker on a handful of the free pamphlets and saw them quickly sell out at a local newsstand. Soon most of the famous funnies were being gathered into comic books by a handful of publishers – and new content was needed at cheap reprint rates. This new material was mostly made up of third-rate imitations of existing newspaper strips, or genre stories echoing adventure, detective, western or jungle pulps. As Marshall McLuhan once pointed out, every medium subsumes the content of the medium that precedes it before it finds its own voice.

Enter Jerry Siegel, an aspiring teenage writer, and Joe Shuster, a young would-be artist – both nerdy alienated Jewish misfits many decades before that was remotely cool. They dreamed of the fame, riches and admiring glances from girls that a syndicated strip might bring, and developed their idea of a superhuman alien from a dying planet who would fight for truth, justice and the values of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. Barely out of childhood themselves, the boys’ idea was rejected by the newspaper syndicates as naive, juvenile and unskilled, before Gaines bought their 13 pages of Superman samples for Action Comics at 10 bucks a page – a fee that included all rights to the character. Not only was Siegel and Shuster’s creation the model for the brand new genre that came to define the medium, their lives were the tragic paradigm for creators bilked of the large rewards their creations brought their publishers….

Read it all at theguardian.com

Larry Brody: WGA Files Antitrust & Racketeering Lawsuits Against WME, CAA, UTA

by Larry Brody

I haven’t been posting about the WGA-ATA battle recently because I didn’t want whatever TVWriter™ reported to influence the current election campaign underway at the Writers Guild of America West.

But yesterday’s news about the latest action by my guild is a genuine game-changer. So here it is.

The WGAW and WGAE have announced that they’ve taken the dispute with the three biggest talent agencies in the country to a new, and to me, totally reasonable level:

Sorry but the links above aren’t clickable. Gonna have to do a bit of googling, my friends, but it’s for a good cause.

‘Then Again with Herbie J Pilato’ Season I Ending with the Big Guns

We here at TVWriter™ love the way things are going for Herbie J Pilato, our Contributing Editor Emeritus. It’s with great pleasure that we present this latest mainstream (read: “OldMedia”) article about his hot new streaming TV show.

That’s Herbie on the right. The other dude you should already know.

by Anthony C. Hayes
via the Baltimore Post Examiner

Herbie J Pilato knows classic television better than most. And he happens to be a good listener – attributes his guests clearly enjoy when they appear on his show, Then Again with Herbie J Pilato. We caught up with Herbie this week (a tad prematurely we discovered) for a recap of his first season’s show. Our error, however, proved to be timely, as we got a peek at some of the fun Herbie has in store for his fans. Then Again with Herbie J Pilato is now streaming on Amazon Prime, Shout Factory TV, and other media outlets.

BPE: Thanks for taking a few minutes to sit down with us today. When we spoke back in 2017 about your then-new book Dashing, Daring, and Debonair, we got somewhat side-tracked because you said you were in the process of launching a nostalgia-filled television show. Would you please bring us up to speed on that venture?

HJP: Yes. It’s been quite a journey. Hosting the show (Then Again with Herbie J Pilato) is something I have been working toward, consciously and subconsciously, really, since I was a kid. But in recent years, the show ultimately evolved from the hosting of my “Throwback Thursday” live events at the Burbank Barnes & Noble in 2015. Those live events, too, had in turn evolved from my Classic TV Seminars that I’ve presented for years throughout California and New York state.

Either way, I always wanted to host a TV talk show that hearkened back to the way talk shows used to be, along the lines of The Merv Griffin Show, The Mike Douglas Show, Dinah! and The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, the latter on which I had worked as an NBC Page.

In each of those cases, the host actually gave their guests time to talk, and all the guests would remain on the show until the end. It was a conversation that the studio audience and the TV audience at home felt like they were participating in. And that’s the charm of it. And I wanted to return that charm to the format and television.

Then Again with Herbie J Pilato has afforded me that remarkable opportunity.

BPE: In our previous interview, you mentioned speaking with several Dark Shadows alumni, including Lara Parker! Have to admit that after all these years I’m still crushing on Angelique.

HJP: And who still isn’t?! Talk about bewitching – those eyes and cheekbones. It really was magical to meet and chat with her, as well as with David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott….

Read it all at baltimorepostexaminter.com