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Old 10-18-2007, 07:22 AM   #11
AaronB
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

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Originally Posted by cvolante View Post
I've discovered that I have a tendency to SPEAK in on-the-nose dialogue. I realize I don't completely and totally do it. But I'm kind of a concrete/blunt/caveman type, turns out.
This is my problem too. I'm not a small-talk kind of guy.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:08 PM   #12
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

For starters have people talk only when they want something.

Then there needs to be a reason why the character wouldn't state exactly what they want. Like they would be thought a fool or they don't want to tip their hand.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:09 PM   #13
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

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No on the nose dialogue unless you're Jimmy Durante.
You mean, like this?
"Come up to my room in a half-hour -- and bring some rye bread!" (Durante in The Man Who Came to Dinner)

Lots of "on the nose" dialogue in the Hope & Crosby road movies . . . Bob's schnozz was always good for an ad lib.

I think a lot about "pointing" my dialogue when rewriting; sometimes transposing words in a line makes all the difference.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:59 PM   #14
Laura Reyna
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

My dialogue tends to be flat, lame, uninteresting, doesn't "sound right", etc etc... Just not my forte.

I suspect I have trouble w/ this b/c I'm not a verbal person. I don't talk a lot. I'm shy & tend to talk only when it's absolutely necessary. So maybe this has something to do with why I have trouble coming up with clever things for my char's to say.

To combat this I do what Martell suggests and write "silent movies". I concentrate on the story/plot/action/pace/physical gags.

I also try to add humor-- one-liners and smart ass remarks-- whenever possible, even if it's not a comedy.

I also do kinda what TwoBrad suggests: Make it so characters try to get what it is they want in each particular scene, w/o coming out & saying it. Their tactics might be subtle or not-so-subtle, depends on char & situation, but concentrating on each char's goal ramps up the drama & helps me come up with dialogue.
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Last edited by Laura Reyna : 10-18-2007 at 08:41 PM. Reason: Typos
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:03 PM   #15
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

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Originally Posted by sasqits View Post
I think this is an urban legend or an isolated case. It's not the norm unless there are a lot of carefree execs out there who throw millions of dollars at a script that hasn't even been read.
You know, um, in my experience action lines are indeed skimmed.

Don't forget, readers have to read fast and they have to synopsize. Action lines - particularly a dense block, are often skimmed over in favor of dialogue.

Now: when your script gets to a serious level of consideration, of course more attention is paid to the details. That's a different game. But when you're trying to get a "consider" versus a "pass" it's true that action lines are speed read. So to speak.

UNLESS they rock - i.e., they are pithy, exciting, colorful, expertly and engagingly written.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:28 PM   #16
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

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Originally Posted by stvnlra View Post
My dialogue tends to be flat, lame, uninteresting, doesn't "sound right", etc etc... Just not my forte.

I suspect I have trouble w/ this b/c I'm not a verbal person. I don't talk a lot. I'm shy & tend to talk only when it's absolutely necessary. So maybe this has something to do with why I have trouble coming up with clever things for my char's to say.
Actually, you're ahead of the game... just listen to how other people talk. I've picked up some great lines (or the rough form) from overheard conversation.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:33 PM   #17
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

It's a tight rope to make dialogue exciting while still maintaining the essence of the scene. A woman friend in the biz explains it: "The shortest distance between two points will always be a straight line whether you're driving, sprinting or jogging. Always take that path. Know what you want to say and write what's absolutely necessary, no matter how bland or how obvious. Carve it out and smooth it out later in the rewrites. It's a much more interesting effect to remove dialogue for maximum impact than to add it for the same reason".
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Old 10-19-2007, 11:08 AM   #18
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

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Originally Posted by La Femme Joyeuse View Post
You know, um, in my experience action lines are indeed skimmed.

Don't forget, readers have to read fast and they have to synopsize. Action lines - particularly a dense block, are often skimmed over in favor of dialogue.

Now: when your script gets to a serious level of consideration, of course more attention is paid to the details. That's a different game. But when you're trying to get a "consider" versus a "pass" it's true that action lines are speed read. So to speak.

UNLESS they rock - i.e., they are pithy, exciting, colorful, expertly and engagingly written.
La Femme, I'm confused . . . as usual.

Bill says, "The easiest way to get rid of OTN dialogue? Don't use dialogue to tell the story. Watch Buster Keaton silent movies."

That implies the script should be almost all action, little or no dialogue.
So if, as you say, the first level Readers skim the script, pass over action, what's left to read?

Could you expand on this issue? I feel I'm missing something.
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Old 10-19-2007, 11:55 AM   #19
sasqits
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

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La Femme, I'm confused . . . as usual.

Bill says, "The easiest way to get rid of OTN dialogue? Don't use dialogue to tell the story. Watch Buster Keaton silent movies."

That implies the script should be almost all action, little or no dialogue.
So if, as you say, the first level Readers skim the script, pass over action, what's left to read?

Could you expand on this issue? I feel I'm missing something.
We're also supposed to show and not tell and not use OTN dialogue. But readers favor dialogue over action to get an idea of the script? It make no sense. I'm sure it happens but I doubt it is the norm.
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:06 PM   #20
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

Pop along to Unk's blog and read what he has to say about screenwriting mistakes here:-

On-The-Nose-Dialogue is mentioned in Part 3, you have to slide down the page to find his descriptions and examples of..

http://www.unknownscreenwriter.com/c...ting-mistakes/
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