Making character relationship clear.

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  • Making character relationship clear.

    I have two characters who are close and great friends, but they constantly critisize each other in a teasing way. On the page it looks like they can't stand each other.

    What's the best way to make clear that they should speak the lines in an affectionate, joking, way? I don't want to have a wrylie every time they speak.

    I have a comment in the scene heading where they are introduced, but could this get overlooked or missed by a reader in a hurry?

  • #2
    read the beginning of Butch Cassidy and Sundance.

    In fact, their own dialogue exchange is a fairly good example.

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    • #3
      You keep thinking, Butch. That's what you're good at.

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      • #4
        Who are those guys?

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        • #5
          sundance
          you take the two on the right. i'll take the two on the left.

          butch looks scared and confused.

          butch
          i forgot to tell you sundance. i never shot anyone.

          sundance
          good time to tell me

          in a barrage of gun fire four banditos shot dead

          vig
          vig

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          • #6
            Instead of trying to spell it out, maybe emphasize the fact they're friends through little comfortable actions, e.g. Guy #1 verbally tears Guy #2's head off, then he goes to the fridge for a beer -- and brings one back for Guy #2. Let them criticize each other all they want but show their true relationship via action.

            Those Butch & Sundance quotes are interesting but I think maybe the most telling interaction that underlines their true relationship is when Butch has to fight giant Harvey Logan:

            Butch: "Listen, I don't mean to be a sore loser, but when it's done, if I'm dead, kill him."
            Sundance: "Love to."

            Shrug, just a theory.

            -Derek
            -----------------------
            One of the many reasons you should never listen to dpat ~PipeWriter

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            • #7
              How one character reacts to a line of dialogue from another reveals a lot about their relationship.

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              • #8
                EXT. BOWLING ALLEY - PARKING LOT - NIGHT

                Altop and ZZ head to their cars. They're both steamed.

                ALTOP
                What a stupid friggin' question, ZZ! Man, I've heard some dumb things come out of your mouth, but this takes the cake. Takes the whole goddang bakery. I wouldn't be friends with you, if you had titties like Pam Anderson and a mouth like Justin Timberlake.

                ZZ
                You always have to be so abrasive?

                ALTOP
                Get to know me.

                ZZ
                Fine.

                Altop and ZZ climb in their cars. Slam the doors. Engines roar to life. ZZ rolls down his window.

                ZZ
                What do you say? Beer at Ralph's?

                ALTOP
                You buying?

                ZZ
                What the hell? I just paid for bowling.

                Altop looks at him.

                ALTOP
                You're awfully cute when you're huffy.

                ZZ
                Not as cute as Justin.

                ALTOP
                Maybe if you worked on the curls.

                ZZ
                Yeah. Fvck you, too.

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                • #9
                  It's tricky. I know that the actors and directors will want to have their input but I really want to be very clear about the 'tone' of this relationship. The two work together and I don't want anyone to think they just tolerate each other because they have to.

                  They aren't as abrasive as Altop's example, more "snide" little comments that could come over very passive-agressive.

                  Obviously I have to show it in their actions for the audience to see it, but I think the actors pertrayal can do that, I'm more worried about the readers opinion. I have to sell it first!

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                  • #10
                    Put it in the action block. Example:

                    JOE
                    Your writing sucks.

                    But from the way Joe says this, it's clear he thinks the opposite.

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                    • #11
                      I think The West Wing is very good at this. That's the appeal of the show.

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                      • #12
                        West Wing is a good example. Easier to do if you're the producer and head writer. More tricky to make clear in a spec script.

                        Jacks suggestion is good. Add in a few small actions that show friendship and we're there.
                        Caught Two Weeks Notice on TV the other day and liked the scene with the two sitting down at a restraunt and automaticaly picking the bits of food off each others plates. Showed the closeness and the passage of time quite well.

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                        • #13
                          I'm sure this is going to sound stupid from someone who admits they are just learning to write screenplays, but why not just write:

                          fade in:

                          JACK, and JOE, both two highly competitive best friends in their thirties who have known each other since kindergarten leave Clancy's Bar and Grill.

                          JACK
                          You are an ass.

                          JOE
                          And you are still wet from when I dumped you
                          in the toilet this morning.

                          etc.

                          No question about the readers, they will have read it, and any two actors worth putting on screen will be able to project the relationship needed.

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