futuristic dialogue



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  • futuristic dialogue

    Two walking strangers about 200 feet apart start a conversation mentally, then vocally as one approaches the other to earshot range. What they say mentally is secret stuff (which also reveals crucial back story matter), what they say at close range (also heard by others) is casual chat (to trick unsolicited ears).

    How can I contrast the mental conversation from the vocal conversation in dialogue format or other creative way?

    No cell phones or hi-tech devices are used in this scene, which shouldnâ€TMt take longer than a 1/2 page (1/2 minute). English is their common language.

    I first tried to use SUBTITLES and SUPERIMPOSITIONS for the mental dialogue, but it didnâ€TMt seem right to me.

    I do have Trottierâ€TMs Screenwriterâ€TMs Bible (3rd Edition) at hand for consultation, but not much help either.

  • #2
    I'd refer you to the "Interruptive Dialogue" thread currently in the Basics Forum. It deals with what you're effectively proposing: Dual (or simultaneous) Dialogue. Bottom line is, there's little point in having simultaneous dialogue (except for minor overlaps) if you want the words to be heard and understood. Multiple voices at once equates to incoherent chatter (if you WANT the chatter, then go for it). As for the words that they "mentally" transmit, my suggestion is to use voiceover.


    • #3
      That's *your* problem. That is, if you create a world in your script where people use psychic communications of some sort - figuring out how they do that is where your skills come into play. You need to figure that out - or scrap the psychic communication idea.

      Alfred Bester has a kick ass novel called THE DEMOLISHED MAN about a world in the future where thought police can read your mind and know when you *think* about killing someone, so for the protag to get away with murder he must *not* think about it, even while he does it... PLUS he must get the thought police to think about something else - he has to cloud their minds. This works in the book, because we can get into someone's mind... but how would you do that in a movie?

      They've tried to crack this book for years. At one time, Oliver Stone did a script for Brian DePalma... but they never made the film. (The script may be out there somewhere - try Planet MegaMall.) But that's how Stone cracked it - how will *you* crack it?

      How will you make that visual? The screenwriter's job - the skill, the talent, the thing they pay us for - is to tell stories that are visual and aural ONLY, often to translate novels that use all of the senses and thoughts into something that is ONLY visual and aural. You've got to figure out how to do that.

      The entire signing element (the most important part) of CONGO was dropped from the novel because they couldn't figure out how to make it work (without having to teach everyone in the audience sign language). Though there were probably many reasons why the film sucked, the coolest idea in the novel is that they were taking Koko the talking gorilla into the jungle to mingle with other gorillas and bring back info... and only one member of the team could understand that info. You know that joke about the translator for the Conquistadors? "I would rather die than tell you where the gold is" ? That was what the whole novel was built on - and it was removed from the film because they couldn't crack it.

      Your job is to crack your story.

      - Bill


      • #4
        use Voice Over when they're speaking with their minds but, you must add nonverbal/visual communication to go with it.


        • #5
          I watched Ghost in the Shell on the weekend. The characters used a lot of sub-vocal communication, which came off as a tinny kind of voice over. I like Bill's input, as usual. He had me at "That's *your* problem".


          • #6
            Loved reading your stuff, Bill, about how impossible it was to make that movie - even with a little help from Oliver Stone.

            Your motto: "Tell stories that are visual and aural ONLY" is truly appreciated. Fact, I'm going to sleep on it tonight to see if it does something to me. Thanks Bill!

            But do you think directly in those terms when you write a screenplay? More like a film director than a writer?

            Because normally the entire world population is taught in schools (all the way to Ph. D. level and beyond) to think and write more broadly, and hardly in those specific terms only. Unless, of course, you specialize in this field and make Hollywood your Alma Matter.

            What I mean really is, how does the screenwriting process work for you? Something like...

            1. While driving down the road your mind begins to see the formation of a marketable story visually and aurally ...triggered by something (just about anything!). People you know disguised as fictional characters suddenly appear, John and Debra, in particular. But you call them Pete and Emily.

            2. Visual scenes begin to shape up while having coffee at Starbucks or Jack in the Box. You write them down on dirty napkins in a coded language (for security reasons). You see the first 10 pages of your script coming to life, then the rest of Act 1…provided (…well, a bunch of things). No problem, youâ€TMll work hard at it and thread your story scene by scene unhurriedly. Act 2, Act 3. Time is on your side. Does it matter how fast you can crank those pages in your head? No.

            3. While taking a hot shower bits of cool dialogue begins to ring in your ears. You scream to yourself, â€TIGHTER AND SHORTER â€" DAMN IT! GO AWAY ON-THE-NOSE BUGGERS!!â€

            4. This goes on for weeks or months. In your head, Pete and Emily have problems (back story) and goals and needs. Your story is in conflict…until you find the right plot (or series of subplots) and tone and balance of all elements…leading to a formidable ending! All along you search for and toy with a different design, a new angle, a creative approach proposed by no one on earth, except maybe your 6-year-old daughter (if you have one)! But you keep your work secret, while in your head. The day will come, you know, when it will explode on the screen, and that will be your reward. For the time being, you just pretend the little job you hold at the park is your Raison Détre.

            5. Finally, facing your computer, you say, â€VOILA!†and nail the son-of-a-bitch!

            Or is it everything you do non-visual and non-aural until you force it to be so...at one point in the process...because that's the way it's got to be in order to get that script sold and the film made?

            I appreciate all inputs. They keep me on my toes!