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Old 09-21-2019, 12:54 PM   #1
Merlin
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Default How much detail?

This is a spec script and I'm doing a scene where two horse-drawn carts have collided on a narrow street. There is a row between the drivers. So far, it looks like this:

DRIVER A
What in hell are you doing?
DRIVER B
Back up, you blockhead!
DRIVER A
Can't you see the street is too narrow?
DRIVER B
It's your ****ing cart that's too wide! There are rules about carts, you know.
And so on.


So I've only written the first dialogue lines. The row is continuing while other things happen. The main character is knocking on the door of a house right next to the street incident. The door is suddenly thrown open by the house owner who doesn't even notice the main character. He is angry at the ruckus in the street. Where a crowd is gathering to watch, contributing to the noise.

In the doorway stands HOUSEOWNER, an enormously fat man, red-faced and angry. He shouts at the two drivers, shakes his fist, cursing them for disturbing the peace and threatening to have them hanged, drawn and quartered.

The drivers go silent, look at him for a moment, then resume their shouting match.


So here is my question: How much of the actual dialogue do I need to write? Quarrels like this are mostly tedious and predictable. What Houseowner says could be more interesting but his exact words are not really relevant, since we know what he's about. Also, drivers and Houseowner are not having a conversation, they are interrupting each other and relying on volume. All shouting at the same time.

The words might be better left to the shooting script? Right or wrong? How do I convey the fact that they are all just shouting over each other?
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Old 09-21-2019, 01:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: How much detail?

Yes, you write dialogue.

And in an Action paragraph you can say that the characters are shouting over one another in the following exchange of words.

You can show some of this with dual dialogue if you want to.

But, yes, you need dialogue.

A fundamental principle of screenwriting is that you write what you see and hear.
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Old 09-21-2019, 01:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: How much detail?

By the way, if I remember correctly, you are using Scrivener.


I googled "dual dialogue in scrivener" just now. Some good links popped up, including a YouTube tutorial that presumably leads you through the steps to create dual dialogue.
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: How much detail?

I took a look at the tutorial just now. It is very easy to do in Scrivener, but you may not be able to print the dual dialogue out from Scrivener. The tutorial said that you could not send it to a PDF that way (from Scrivener) but that you could export it to Final Draft and Fountain.


I know that you can print the dual dialogue from Final Draft and also from Fade In. You can also use these programs to print to PDF.


Fade In, which is an excellent screenwriting program, imports Final Draft (.fdr and .fdx) files. I know that it will import the dual dialogue of a Final Draft file. I have done it.


Fade In also lets you create dual dialogue very easily. You just use the cursor to select the two Dialogue items that you want to be side by side, and then you use Format > Make Dual Dialogue. To undo the dual dialogue, do the same thing that you did to make the dual dialogue.


Fade In is currently $70, unless the price has changed. Free upgrades. May use it on more than one computer that you own.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: How much detail?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ComicBent View Post
Fade In is currently $70, unless the price has changed. Free upgrades. May use it on more than one computer that you own.
$79.95 now. (Or $80 in realityspeak.)

$50 if you can prove your a student.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: How much detail?

Quote:
Originally Posted by StoryWriter View Post
$79.95 now. (Or $80 in realityspeak.)

$50 if you can prove your a student.
Still cheap compared to what I paid for formatting software (used) 20 years ago.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: How much detail?

Quote:
DRIVER A
What in hell are you doing?
DRIVER B
Back up, you blockhead!
DRIVER A
Can't you see the street is too narrow?
DRIVER B
It's your ****ing cart that's too wide! There are rules about carts, you know.
Please give the drivers some kind of descriptive names.

Saying "DRIVER A", "DRIVER B" requires my imagination to do ALL the work and you might not like the results.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:18 PM   #8
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Default Re: How much detail?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin View Post
This is a spec script and I'm doing a scene where two horse-drawn carts have collided on a narrow street. There is a row between the drivers. So far, it looks like this:

DRIVER A
What in hell are you doing?
DRIVER B
Back up, you blockhead!
DRIVER A
Can't you see the street is too narrow?
DRIVER B
It's your ****ing cart that's too wide! There are rules about carts, you know.
And so on.


So I've only written the first dialogue lines. The row is continuing while other things happen. The main character is knocking on the door of a house right next to the street incident. The door is suddenly thrown open by the house owner who doesn't even notice the main character. He is angry at the ruckus in the street. Where a crowd is gathering to watch, contributing to the noise.

In the doorway stands HOUSEOWNER, an enormously fat man, red-faced and angry. He shouts at the two drivers, shakes his fist, cursing them for disturbing the peace and threatening to have them hanged, drawn and quartered.

The drivers go silent, look at him for a moment, then resume their shouting match.


So here is my question: How much of the actual dialogue do I need to write? Quarrels like this are mostly tedious and predictable. What Houseowner says could be more interesting but his exact words are not really relevant, since we know what he's about. Also, drivers and Houseowner are not having a conversation, they are interrupting each other and relying on volume. All shouting at the same time.

The words might be better left to the shooting script? Right or wrong? How do I convey the fact that they are all just shouting over each other?
Are any of these characters important to the story? If they're just all background players, my answer would be it does not matter much if you give them dialogue if you just want them shouting crap in background.

Houseowner screams out things at them -- "you dumb idiots" "get off my lawn" -- at the 2 drivers....
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:52 PM   #9
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Default Re: How much detail?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bono View Post
Are any of these characters important to the story? If they're just all background players, my answer would be it does not matter much if you give them dialogue if you just want them shouting crap in background.

Houseowner screams out things at them -- "you dumb idiots" "get off my lawn" -- at the 2 drivers....
Same...

I'd go this way unless the dialogue REALLY informs us of something along the way and is DYNAMIC. As is, this dialogue doesn't feel like we need a back and forth unless the end of the sequence is big payoff worth waiting for. Feels, to me, like something you'd cut on a rewrite as "don't NEED it."

I put dialogue in narrative all the time. No one says sh!t.
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Old 09-21-2019, 08:34 PM   #10
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Default Re: How much detail?

They’re called ACTION lines for exactly that reason. Things happen. Description, with few exceptions, should be limited to lines describing what’s happening. Avoid static description as much as possible.
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