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Old 10-21-2007, 11:43 AM   #51
altoption
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

If you read a lot of scripts, it's common to skim the action and read down the page. It's not out of laziness, really, but a desire to get to the good stuff. There's nothing worse than overwritten description, and that means anything that doesn't advance the story.

Lots of actors cross out everything except the words when they read a script. And nothing annoys a director faster than description that tells him or her how to shoot something. Let's face it, actors and directors are a large part of the audience we're writing for and selling to.

Great dialogue is a thing of beauty, and there are times it rises to art. What a gift to write a speech that even the audience wants to memorize.
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Old 10-21-2007, 02:51 PM   #52
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

Well, not only to convey story, that would be too boring. And what about the scene in Jaws, where that woman is holding him up by yapping to him on the beach, while he's straining to see a shark.

Dialogue isn't used to convey story there, it's getting in the way of the story, causing fear to rise.
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Old 10-21-2007, 07:00 PM   #53
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

Re-watch your favorite films, or the most successful ones. For the most part, both the protagonist and the antagonist will state their goals. Then, sequence by sequence, they'll tell you how they plan to get what they want. Then, scene by scene, they'll say how, and verbally respond to how it went.

The whole story exists in the dialogue. Only the how and some of the why exists in the action. That's why skimmers can read the dialogue.

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Old 10-21-2007, 10:21 PM   #54
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

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Originally Posted by InDeep View Post
Re-watch your favorite films, or the most successful ones. For the most part, both the protagonist and the antagonist will state their goals. Then, sequence by sequence, they'll tell you how they plan to get what they want. Then, scene by scene, they'll say how, and verbally respond to how it went.

The whole story exists in the dialogue. Only the how and some of the why exists in the action. That's why skimmers can read the dialogue.

Success,

InDeep

And then try the following:

Check out an action or horror movie, even a comedy with a lot of physical humor, you haven't seen. Play it but don't watch it, only listen to the dialogue and sound track. Then play it again, watching and listening. Is the story the same both ways?


Anyway, just finished viewing Separate Tables on Turner Cable, (David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth, Burt Lancaster) a movie adapted from the play. Takes place in one location, mostly the dining room of an inn, and like the play is mostly dialogue. Here's a case where the dialogue has to carry most of the load. There is a lot of what we would call OTN dialogue. Because of the nature of the film, the dialogue must fill in backstory, etc.
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:07 AM   #55
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

The first round of assessment for entry into film school is to submit a series of 9 images, that tell a story that goes from the general, to the specific, and ends with a twist. No words, just 9 images.

Why do you think they do that?
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:34 AM   #56
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

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The first round of assessment for entry into film school is to submit a series of 9 images, that tell a story that goes from the general, to the specific, and ends with a twist. No words, just 9 images.

Why do you think they do that?
Nobody needs to answer that. We're not in kindergarten here.

Maralyn, in another thread somewhere way back, you spoke against absolutism. I suppose you are against it except when it suits you to make an argument. This thread is not about images, it's about the words that come out of the actor's mouths. Like it or not, it's been that way since 1929.

On-the-nose dialogue is just the stuff that states too matter-of-factly what happened, what's happening, and what will happen. It doesn't sound natural, because people seldom say exactly what's on their minds. When dialogue is used properly it can tell a story where images cannot, as well as move us emotionally, all in a natural way.

You seem to be making the argument that the images are more important than the words. Everyone here but you has acknowledged that they are both important, and depending on the material, one can take precedence over the other. I hate to break it to you, but Shakespeare sucked in the silent days. It was much more beautiful to hear Lawrence Olivier speak those words, as well as see his striking face and movements. A blend of sights, sounds, and spoken words is usually what makes a movie.

Isn't it great that the cinema can move us in such a variety of ways? -- And that absolutism is not a factor?


(Hope to see some of you at the Expo. -- rd)
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Old 10-22-2007, 02:15 AM   #57
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

Uhm, they don't do that because they're absolutist morons, they do that because film is widely considered a visual medium.

But I didn't say anywhere that you shouldn't use dialogue. Although that seems to be what you're hearing. For some reason.

I assume that most people who view these threads are new or developing writers. Generally, without being too absolutist, they write reems and reems of on the nose dialogue, which is at least partially caused by the fact that they neglect to work from a filmic story structure.
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Old 10-22-2007, 06:10 AM   #58
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

I'm glad to see I've once again fostered an atmosphere of informative clarity here on DD. With any luck this will grow to the dimensions of the infamous wryly thread (now a sticky in the FAQ). =]
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Old 10-22-2007, 07:28 AM   #59
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

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No - just that the story should be told through the actions of the characters so that the dialogue can be free to be clever and interesting, instead of burdened with carrying the story.
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Exactly. If you can get the action to tell your story, you can add more layers with dialogue. That's how I think of it. If you have more than one way to get information out to your audience, why do it with action and dialogue? It's a waste. If you can do it with just action, you are free to let the dialogue then layer your scene(s) and it ends up being much more interesting.
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:44 AM   #60
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Default Re: On-the-Nose Dialogue

On-the-nose dialogue is truth.
Dialogue as sub-text masks the truth.

Action is truth.
It is more difficult to mask the truth with action.

When telling/showing the truth, if you have a choice, choose action.
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