sharpening dialogue

Thu, Apr 20 2017 03:34pm IST 1
Tinks
Tinks
3 Posts
Hi there,
I need some help. My tutor on my MA Scriptwriting course has asked me to sharpen the dialogue in my script. However she didn't actually tell me what exactly sharpening dialogue means. Any advice anyone, please?
Thu, Apr 20 2017 04:25pm IST 2
Pinkbelt75
Pinkbelt75
1370 Posts
Bin off unnecessary words. Try reading it aloud. I'd it sounds odd you need to look at the key language used.

I would never write something like, "Could you pass the salt to me please.?

'Pass the salt, please.'

Obviously it depends on the context but it's all about making it sound natural.

A bartender watching a disgruntled customer: Is he more likely to say 'How was your day at work?' or, 'Rough day?'

I'd say that if you can cut words out of dialogue and portray the same thing, then lose them.
Thu, Apr 20 2017 04:26pm IST 3
Pinkbelt75
Pinkbelt75
1370 Posts
* If it sounds odd
Thu, Apr 20 2017 04:28pm IST 4
Pinkbelt75
Pinkbelt75
1370 Posts
Sorry about the punctuation on that first speech section. Walking the dog and typing with one hand is not advised.
Thu, Apr 20 2017 04:36pm IST 5
Pinkbelt75
Pinkbelt75
1370 Posts
Here's a small section from my WIP. It's a conversation between a police officer and the lead crime scene Investigator.

Bill stops in the entrance and positions his huge flashlight on the ground, creating a cone of artificial daylight.
‘Jesus, Bill.’
‘What’s up? You scared of the dark?’ He clamps his enormous paw on my shoulder. ‘Do you want a little back rub?’
‘Funny. You been to Maccies today?’
‘Not if the missus asks. She says I’m getting fat.’
‘Getting?’
‘Cheeky bastard.’ He rubs his belly and his tongue slithers around his lips.
‘Seriously, Bill, you’re gonna wish you’d passed on the McMuffins.’
‘Nah. I’m yet to find a stiff that can turn these guts.’
‘You’ve never seen anything like this.’
His eyebrows scrunch together. ‘Come on then. What have you got for me?’
‘A woman — looks to be in her thirties. Over there, on the right-hand wall.’ I nod in the general direction.
‘It’s only the right if you come in from this side.’ His belly laugh resonates through the tunnel, but fades when I don’t join in. ‘Are you alright, Jack? You look bloody awful.’
‘I’m fine.’
His expression suggests he’s not buying it, but he doesn’t push. Instead, he sweeps down and picks up his flashlight in a dramatic bow. ‘Shall we?’


Hope it helps
Thu, Apr 20 2017 04:37pm IST 6
EmmaD
EmmaD
3317 Posts
This might help? It's about prose, not script, but the principles aren't very different (I'm always telling prose writers to think like actors and playwrights!)

Thu, Apr 20 2017 04:39pm IST 7
Pinkbelt75
Pinkbelt75
1370 Posts
Beat me to it I was just copying the link to your page, Emma.
Thu, Apr 20 2017 04:43pm IST 8
EmmaD
EmmaD
3317 Posts
Thanks, Pink ;) I was on my way into the Self-Editing Course, and spotted the query.

And good luck with the MA, Tinks!
Thu, Apr 20 2017 05:09pm IST 9
Tinks
Tinks
3 Posts
Thanks guys, this'll really help. I'll let you know how it goes when I get back to uni next week.
Sat, Apr 22 2017 07:53am IST 10
Lou
Lou
541 Posts
Hi Tinks, I've spent the past year writing a screenplay and I have to say, dialogue is one of the hardest parts. I try to remember: keep dialogue to a minimum - if something can be shown, rather than spoken, show it. Dialogue is the last resort.

And keep dialogue EVASIVE wherever possible. Think about what a character isn't saying... or is really trying to say.

HTH!
Sat, Apr 22 2017 11:15pm IST 11
JtF
JtF
296 Posts
Dear Tinks, as the dialogue supports the action we just need the verbal gist. Nothing too "on the nose please" and it often helps to start late and finish early. I thank you!

Thu, Apr 27 2017 08:39pm IST 12
JtF
JtF
296 Posts
Hi Tinks, post your opening pages on here -- as a new topic. A small sample of my stuff is on here and also the Scenes R us group. Best JtF

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