The Rewriting Process – Dialogue

Here is the next post from Hal Croasmun’s Proseries classes on rewriting.

Dialogue is not about characters telling the story. That is the domain of stage plays. Once you realize this, dialogue can be freed up to entertain your audience with memorable quips such as “You had me at hello”, “I’ll be back” and “Frankly, my dear ,I don’t give a damn.”

Think about what the characters say as opposed to what they do. Give the audience something to interpret. What did the character say compared to what they meant?

Remove “on the nose” dialogue. A film should be experienced by an audience not listened to. It’s not a class.

The main function of dialogue is:

  • to enhance character
  • to entertain
  • to create subtext (innuendo, hinting, alluding or lying)
  • to create anticipation (predict, warn or advise)
  • to advance plot

Creating unique character dialogue can be achieved by isolating the dialogue of each character and then rewriting it through their perspective only. eg a vapid teenager would speak differently to the president. Do this for one character per day.

Look at the very first line of dialogue for each character. What information does it deliver about them?

More tomorrow…


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