...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

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  • ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

    [I've already posted this thread recently but I thought I would again (to give context) and provide examples this time of my work, which I hope some people here can help me out with.]

    Okay guys I hope someone can help me out and point me in the right direction.

    My current script I think for the most part is 'above average' (even a fellow writer at CAA loved my script, so I am doing something right) however I am not going to kid myself that it's perfect. Of course it's not)

    I have had a lot of people give me reviews (some more deatiled than others). Some of the people who read it have work already produced, some have written hundreds with no work produced, some are new writers, some are old, etc. So they're from every walk of (screenwriting) life.

    However, not all, but a fair amount of them have said 'on the nose' dialogue.

    Now there's two possible things happening here. Either I do have 'on the nose' dialogue' (which is entirely possibly of course) or I think some people may be saying it, without a real understanding of it themselves.

    Please don't think that my ego is letting my brain tell me that when anyone says anything negative about my script, is wrong. That's no tthe case. They may well be right. I just instinctively feel though that my dialogue is not 'on the nose' and that some people are worng about this.

    Even my understanding of 'on the nose' may be wrong.


    .................................................. ................................................
    CHARACTER 1#
    Hey dude, what's up with you?

    CHARACTER 2#
    I sad. I was just thinking about my childhood when my mother walked out on all us kids, and never came back. That's why I'm an alcoholic. I just can't get over it.
    .................................................. ................................................


    I just made that up off the top of my head. If a character speaks like this, it would be 'on the nose' to me. I absolutely do not do this.

    Now what does happen in my script sometimes is exposition. However I feel I am very careful about how I inject exposition into the dialogue. My script is a action sci-fi set in space. Think about any Star Trek, there is always a need to have exposition in stuff like this.

    However I am not writing stuff like:


    .................................................. ...............................
    CHARACTER 1#
    What is that?

    CHARACTER 2#
    It's a new alien weapon, that de-stables atomic structures and fractures them across their event horizon, effectively collapsing any matter into a black hole. We have to stop them before they reach our solar system, or they will destroy the Earth. We don't have any communications with Earth base alpha 1 so we have no way of warning them. Our only chance is to stop them ourselves......blah blah blah.
    .................................................. ....................................

    Again this feels very 'on the nose'. When I have any NEEDED exposition I try to layer it in, into authentic sounding dialogue. I never interrupt a 'big action' scene or slow down the pacing with exposition. And I certainly don't repeat information again and again (to the audience) as characters talk to other characters.

    I feel I have a good grasp of dialogue and that I don't do 'on the nose'. I might not be writing Shakespeare or creating the deepest characters ever written, but I think my dialogue isn't so bad.

    Can anyone tell me what I am doing wrongt then, if anything.

    If anyone wants to see my script or some excerpts let me know.

    ================================================== ======

    [Okay here's an example from my script. Just to give the sci-fi scenes some context, it is about a crew onboard a spaceship, who suddenly find themselves adrift with a kind of 'space storm' surrounding them.]

    Code:
         INT. BRIDGE
    
         First in the room is RACHEL MENDES, mid 30’s, a tough bitch 
         with a big heart, tying back her hair, horrified as she 
         catches sight of lightning arcs striking the window.
    
                               MENDES
                   Holy...
    
                               AVIAN
                   Mendes, what is that thing?
    
         She runs to her terminal as ADRIAN HAWKINS crashes into the 
         room, early 30’s, wiry and nervous, almost hyperventilating.
    
         Just behind him is SAMANTHA ELLIS, a few years younger, a 
         bubble of energy and tomboy charm.
    
                               ELLIS
                   I don’t believe it...
    
         Mendes furiously scrolls through data on her touch screen.
    
                               MENDES
                   Looks like some sort of plasma 
                   cloud... condensed gas... a nebula.
    
         Hawkins stares as electrical discharge explodes across the 
         window.  Ellis pushes past him to get to her workstation.
    
                               ELLIS
                   It’s huge!  We need to back out on a 
                   heading of 295.6 degrees --
    
                               AVIAN
                   It’s useless, we’ve lost flight 
                   control.  I can’t get us moving...
    
         Avian flicks on overhead switches -- sparks erupt.
    
                               AVIAN
                   ...I’ve got no engines.  I don’t 
                   even have maneuvering thrusters.
    
                               HAWKINS
                   Where’s the captain?  He should --
    
                               AVIAN
                   Mendes, where’s my flight control?
    
         Mendes hits controls at her station.
    
                               MENDES
                   I’m working on it, give me two min... 
                   ****... we’re venting fuel!
    
         Diagrams of the ship’s rear section magnify on Mendes’ screen.
    
         NATHAN TRIER bursts into the room.  A six foot nightmare, 
         early 40’s, the build of a football player, stern, 
         contentious, authoritative nature.
    
                               TRIER
                   What’s happening?
    
                               MENDES
                   We have a hole in the tank.
    
                               AVIAN
                   How’s that possible?
    
                               MENDES
                   No idea.  Engines won’t engage when 
                   there’s a hole in the tank.  No way 
                   to override it.
    
         Avian pauses.  They all do.  All eyes fall on him.  A long 
         moment.  He rises...
    
                               AVIAN
                   I’m dumping it!
    
                               TRIER
                   What?  You can’t eject the tank.
    
                               AVIAN
                   The fuel’s exposed.  Even the smallest 
                   spark could set it alight.  I’m 
                   dumping it.
    
         Avian heads for the door.  The crew throw anxious glances at 
         each other.  Trier steps forward, blocking his exit.
    
                               AVIAN
                   Get out of my way.
    
         Trier doesn’t say a word.  Neither does anyone else.  They 
         just stare at each other.
    
                               AVIAN
                   I said get out of my ****ing way.
    
         Avian reaches down for his holstered weapon -- before he can 
         remove it, Mendes steps forward.
    
                               MENDES
                   Sir, I strongly disagree.  We should 
                   repair the hole immediately.  Then 
                   we can fire up the engines, and get 
                   the hell out of this thing.
    
                               AVIAN
                   That could take hours, Mendes.  We 
                   could be dead in minutes.
    
                               TRIER
                   I’m not letting you drop our tank.  
                   That’s suicide.
    
         Avian steps closer to Trier, eye to eye, anger etched across 
         his face.
    
                               AVIAN
                   I just gave you an order.
    
         The door behind Trier opens as JACOB WEST rushes in out of 
         breath.  Unfocused, erratic, shouts when he talks.  Likes 
         himself way too much.
    
         West’s entrance momentarily distracts Trier.  Avian swings 
         his fist clean to Trier’s face.  He crashes back into West’s 
         arms.
    
                               WEST
                   What the **** are you doing?
    
         Trier pushes himself off West, leaps forward at Avian, grabs 
         him by the throat.
    
                               TRIER
                   I’m gonna rip your ****ing head off!
    
         West quickly grabs Trier, trying to restrain his hulking 
         mass.  Avian kicks his knee up into Trier’s stomach -- the 
         impact drops him to the floor.
    
         Avian throws a ferocious glance at Mendes.
    
                               AVIAN
                   I have to release the fuel tank 
                   manually, but I need you to disengage 
                   the magnetic clamps.
    
                               MENDES
                   Sir, I’m making an official complaint 
                   against you and will record this in 
                   my logbook.
    
                               AVIAN
                   You do what you have to do, but I 
                   want those clamps released.  The 
                   bridge is yours, Mendes.
    
         Avian Exits.  Trier, severely winded on the floor, strains 
         to shout out...
    
                               TRIER
                   He can’t do that.  He can’t ****ing 
                   do that.
    
         Ellis shrugs an ‘I don’t know’ sign to West, kneeling over 
         Trier.  She looks at Hawkins, still staring through the window 
         at the nebula’s raging storm.
    
                               ELLIS
                   Hawkins, wake up, get to your post.
    
         Hawkins turns to her.
    
                               HAWKINS
                   Something is seriously wrong here. 
                   Where the hell is the captain?
    
    
         INT. CORRIDOR
    
         Avian moves fast, as blinking lights lined along the floor 
         light his way.
    
         He slows as he comes into contact with EDWARD DANIELS, mid 
         30’s, a tall, methodical bright spark, obsessive, well 
         educated, running in the opposite direction.
    
         Behind him is Doctor MICHAEL GREY, a reclusive depressive, 
         cold cynical eyes staring through spectacles.
    
                               DANIELS
                   Sir, what’s happening --
    
                               AVIAN
                   I need you to head down to the shuttle 
                   bay, double check all our life-pods 
                   are prepped and ready to go.
    
                               DANIELS
                   Are we ditching?  What --
    
                               AVIAN
                   Just do it.
    
         Avian barely stops.  Daniels and Grey are left standing in 
         the corridor, confused as hell.
    
         Avian rounds a corner, stops at a small hatch door centered 
         in the wall.  He opens it, climbs in on his hands and knees 
         into a...
    
    
         INT. MAINTENANCE TUNNEL
    
         It’s lined with thick cables, pipes and circuitry.  Avian 
         crawls fast through the narrow space.
    
         He stops to double-check a digital wall map, traces his finger 
         along it until he finds the: “engine room”.
    
    
         INT. BRIDGE
    
         Electrical discharge forks out towards the ship -- the room 
         jerks violently, almost knocking Hawkins off his feet.
    
                               HAWKINS
                   That was way too close for comfort!
    
                               ELLIS
                   Too close?  What are you talking 
                   about?  It just hit us!
    
                               HAWKINS
                   What?  Can the hull take it?
    
                               WEST
                   Yeah, the hull can take it.  I’m not 
                   sure I can.
    
                               ELLIS
                   We’re losing systems all over the 
                   ship.
    
         Mendes slides her seat across to another console, leans into 
         to the intercom.
    
                               MENDES
                        (to Avian)
                   Sir, are you there yet?
    
    
         INT. MAINTENANCE TUNNEL
    
         Avian squeezes along the dark narrow tunnels.  He snaps a 
         glow stick activating its dim green light, hits the intercom.
    
                               AVIAN
                   I’m almost through.
    
                               MENDES (V.O.)
                        (on intercom)
                   Yes, Sir.  Make sure you disconnect 
                   all fuel lines to the tank.  If you 
                   don’t, you’ll rip out half of that 
                   compartment, with you inside it.
    
                               AVIAN
                   I know, I know.
    
         Avian reaches the end of the tunnel, opening out into a large 
         vertical...
    [I am looking for opinions on the dialogue, but feel free to comment on anything really.]
    fanatic_about_film
    Member
    Last edited by fanatic_about_film; 01-10-2011, 10:29 PM.

  • #2
    Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

    Well, I'm a nobody, but I've done some paid reading here and there. Make of my opinion what you will.

    I can see what your readers mean about OTN dialogue. In the example you provided, most of the time your characters say exactly what they mean. Nobody's being coy with information, forcing other characters to tease it out of them. Nobody knows more than they're saying. Nobody knows less than they're saying but pretends otherwise. Nobody banters (granted, it's not a banter-y situation, although in a similar situation Firefly would have gotten some in; love Firefly ). Nobody listens in silence and then takes off to do something drastic without telling anybody. Etc.

    Although there aren't any "as you know, Bob," lines containing exposition (okay, maybe one or two), it all feels very straightforward *and* you miss out on the chance to reveal character through dialogue. What your characters choose to say and how, as well as what they choose to withhold and why, helps define who they are as people and how they'll approach the situation they're in. The dialogue you put into the mouths of your characters doesn't distinguish them as people and keeps me the reader from distinguishing them as characters. They feel flat, and the dialogue has a lot to do with that.
    "Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.-
    ― Ray Bradbury

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

      Originally posted by Ravenlocks View Post
      Well, I'm a nobody, but I've done some paid reading here and there. Make of my opinion what you will.

      I can see what your readers mean about OTN dialogue. In the example you provided, most of the time your characters say exactly what they mean. Nobody's being coy with information, forcing other characters to tease it out of them. Nobody knows more than they're saying. Nobody knows less than they're saying but pretends otherwise. Nobody banters (granted, it's not a banter-y situation, although in a similar situation Firefly would have gotten some in; love Firefly ). Nobody listens in silence and then takes off to do something drastic without telling anybody. Etc.

      Although there aren't any "as you know, Bob," lines containing exposition (okay, maybe one or two), it all feels very straightforward *and* you miss out on the chance to reveal character through dialogue. What your characters choose to say and how, as well as what they choose to withhold and why, helps define who they are as people and how they'll approach the situation they're in. The dialogue you put into the mouths of your characters doesn't distinguish them as people and keeps me the reader from distinguishing them as characters. They feel flat, and the dialogue has a lot to do with that.

      Hey thanks for the reply. I certainly agree it is 'straigh forward' spoech. I am aware it is not flavoured with any subtext or anything. However, I felt the situation defines how they speak. The crew wake up from hyper-sleep and find themselvbes in an emergency situation. Alarms are blaring. Sparks are literally flying. The spaceship is shaking. People are running around, flicking swtiches, trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

      Would any of my characters being talking in a 'layers of subtext' kinda style?

      They are saying EXACTLY what's going on. They could die any second. They wouldn't chance any miscommunication between themselves would they?

      You know what I mean?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

        Space now reserved for comments. (I can't delete this message completely.)
        Last edited by Centos; 01-10-2011, 10:44 PM.
        STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

          Originally posted by fanatic_about_film View Post
          Would any of my characters being talking in a 'layers of subtext' kinda style?

          They are saying EXACTLY what's going on. They could die any second. They wouldn't chance any miscommunication between themselves would they?

          You know what I mean?
          Well, that's the thing. People almost always talk in layers of subtext.

          Even in an emergency situation, you still have the dynamics among your characters, their interpersonal likes and dislikes, some people with secrets, somebody afraid they did something that caused the emergency but scared to admit it, somebody else certain person X on the crew is responsible simply because they've never trusted X*, somebody else thinking they can fix it but nobody will listen to them, some other crew member panicking due to a belief there's no fix and they're all going to die, etc.

          In an emergency, tensions among the crew are likely to come to the fore because they're all under stress. They won't be operating like a well-oiled machine, much as they might like to and know they should.

          Yes, they're all focused on what's going on, but not all in the same ways. And yes, they may miscommunicate, although unintentionally, because they're all people with different ways of expressing themselves and different agendas. This should all heighten the stakes in your scene.


          *No reference to our own Fortean intended.
          "Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.-
          ― Ray Bradbury

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

            Hey thanks Centos for the help.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

              Originally posted by fanatic_about_film View Post
              Hey thanks Centos for the help.
              You're welcome. I know that a lot of people (including me) tend not to read something with the format messed up. It's hard to get a "feel" for it when it's like that.
              STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

                well i'm not repped by CAA as a writer, but i kind of get the same feeling after reading it as well.

                is the scene you posted an example of what others have pointed out to you as being on the nose?

                i get what you're saying in terms of the reason they are saying exactly whats happening is because they're in a dire situation and could die any second, which is why i would actually expect LESS explanations of every single thing that's happening - especially if we're talking about they could die in seconds, however i do see a few places where subtext can be added to lessen some of the talk. for instance, instead of:

                Code:
                     Avian heads for the door.  The crew throw anxious glances at 
                     each other.  Trier steps forward, blocking his exit.
                
                                           AVIAN
                               Get out of my way.
                
                     Trier doesn’t say a word.  Neither does anyone else.  They 
                     just stare at each other.
                
                                           AVIAN
                               I said get out of my ****ing way.
                
                     Avian reaches down for his holstered weapon -- before he can 
                     remove it, Mendes steps forward.
                
                                           MENDES
                               Sir, I strongly disagree.  We should 
                               repair the hole immediately.  Then 
                               we can fire up the engines, and get 
                               the hell out of this thing.
                
                                           AVIAN
                               That could take hours, Mendes.  We 
                               could be dead in minutes.
                how about just:

                Code:
                    Avian heads for the door.  The crew throw anxious glances at 
                    each other.  Trier steps forward, blocking his exit.
                
                    Without a second thought, Avian reaches down for his holstered 
                    weapon -- Mendes jumps between them. It's over before it's started. 
                
                                                 MENDES
                               Sir, I strongly disagree.  We should 
                               repair the hole immediately.  Then 
                               we can fire up the engines, and get 
                               the hell out of this thing.
                
                                                AVIAN
                               We don't have time Mendes!
                IMO, after reading over it one time it feels as if you want us to understand exactly what's going on, like right down to the the exact problem, and that's fine, but while the writing is cool it does feel like the characters are explaining every single thing that's happening as it happens. again, this is just my opinion/impression as i was reading it. seems to me if things are happening at such a fast pace and every second counts, Mendes wouldn't have the time to waste on telling Avian how she's going to write him up in her log book, etc etc....seems like in a situation like that someone, even if they were against what was happening, they'd either react or just get the f%$# out of the way and do what he says. There were a couple other instances like that where i felt the same way as well. overall, i think this scene could benefit from subtext used in the characters actions a little more versus them explaining why they are doing exactly why they are doing it.

                again, just my opinion. i come in peace.
                "Making movies is a collaborative process...bend over."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

                  Thanks Ravenlock although I see what you're saying, I'm juts finding it hard to put what you said into any kind of practise.

                  And thanks Dock:

                  is the scene you posted an example of what others have pointed out to you as being on the nose?

                  Not really. This is just a random scene I pulled out. A lot of people who have said I have 'on the nose' dialogue, just seem to say it, yet never give me any specific examples. That's why I am somewhat hesitant to fully accept it. Or atleast identify it.


                  ...however I do see a few places where subtext can be added to lessen some of the talk. for instance, instead of:

                  Well I am thankful for your example, but what did you really achieve. You took away the "get out my way" statement by my main character, which is cool, perhaps I could play that small beat without him literally saying "get out of my way".

                  Then you cut down "That could take hours, Mendes. We could be dead in minutes." to "We don't have time Mendes!". In doing so you have changed what he is saying, which is wrong for the scene. It's not that he personally doesn't have time available tyo do it, it's that the crew and ship don't have the time. They 'could' be dead in minutes if he doesn't do it.

                  But anyway, your suggestion cut down on a few lines (which is all good) but it didn't layer in any subtext into the dialogue in anyway. And that's what I'm looking to do, if it is needed.

                  New question to everyone: I admit it is often 'straight-forward' dialogue, but is that the same as 'on the nose' dialogue??? Do people use the 'on the nose' statement wrong sometimes?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

                    I had a big issue with the dialogue seeming very artificial - and I didn't really get a feel for the characters ... they seemed pretty much interchangable. And the events seem a bit random.

                    It would flow a lot better if people had consistent roles.

                    eg: Avery starts off wanting the engines. Then when he discovers that he can't have engines until a hole is repaired he suddenly changes his mind - and Mendes is the one who argues that they need the engines! Why not make it consistent?


                    The dialog seemed pretty artificial too and inconsistent.

                    Imagine you are driving your boat along and you see a massive oil tanker in front of you. Would you say "It’s huge! We need to back out on a heading of 295.6 degrees --"

                    That just doesn't seem natural. The heading doesn't even make sense - in 3 dimensions you don't have a heading of a certain number of degrees !!! It seems like it was just put in to make it sound technical.

                    Avery's problem is that he is trying to control the engines and yet his controls are doing nothing. Yet that isn't what happens - when he flicks a switch instead of his controls doing nothing sparks appear. So his controls are doing something. If you want to communicate that his controls are useless (because of the safety override due to the fuel leak) then have his controls do nothing.

                    Then someone "stern, contentious, authoritative nature" enters the room ... but all eyes turn to face someone else? How can someone be described as 'authoritative' .. yet when he walks into the room everyone looks at someone else?

                    Someone else is described as "a bubble of energy and tomboy charm" ... yet this 'bubble of energy' stops and delivers a line of dialog before acting.

                    Someone who is described as "tough but with a big heart" - but their dialogue is "Sir, I’m making an official complaint against you and will record this in my logbook." Is that the voice of someone who is 'tough' !?

                    Avery decides that they have only minutes to live if he doesn't act ... so he says "That could take hours, (First name)". It just doesn't seem like a natural speech pattern. When you are replying to someone with only minutes left to live ... would you really include their name in your reply!?

                    Another thing that doesn't seem to make any sense - Avery's solution is to disconnect the fuel tank and presumably let it drift. Yet they will still have no thrusters ... so the leaky fuel tank will just sit a few meters away from them ready to be detonated! They will still need to put distance between themselves and the fuel tank. So that doesn't solve their problem at all !!

                    Worst still - since it seems likely the leak would be on the outside - the venting will push the tank TOWARDS them .. they'll never be able to get rid of the damn thing without thrusters !!!

                    All of this just makes this whole scene seem a bit 'we've seen this all before in cheap Sci-Fy films' kind of feel to it ... characters shouting at each other while sparks fly from their terminals. Even with some old fashioned fisti-cuffs!

                    They aren't acting as a professional well-oiled machine. They are having fisticuffs and having irrational plans. I certainly hope someone manages to rescue the crew from Avery's poorly thought out plan.

                    Good luck,

                    Mac
                    Last edited by Mac H.; 01-11-2011, 12:05 AM.
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                    • #11
                      Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

                      Originally posted by Ravenlocks View Post
                      Well, that's the thing. People almost always talk in layers of subtext.
                      This is one generic statement that is a myth and , I believe, espoused without really thinking about it. It's as if it's a comment that is taken as read and just passed on regardless. People almost always talk in subtext? I bet my house people don't. Eg:

                      BOB: Hi, I'm Bob, what's your name?
                      GIRL: Well, my first is in windmill but not carousel.

                      JIM: You're late, why?
                      SARAH: Not everyone's life is perfect y'know. For many of us it rains all the time.

                      Granted, these examples are loaded with sarcasm but they illustrate the point. The only time people almost always default to subtext is in a highly diplomatic or political situation (someone is critical after a car crash, one nation wilfully contravenes another's no fly zone, government ministers dodging a question about whether there will be spending cuts to front line emergency units) or when they want to reveal their feelings to another but feel they are unable to (they are in love with the person they are talking to, an adulterous couple are surrounded by unaware 3rd parties, a couple are arguing just as their friends turn up for a party etc ).

                      Even in an emergency situation, you still have the dynamics among your characters, their interpersonal likes and dislikes, some people with secrets, somebody afraid they did something that caused the emergency but scared to admit it
                      Another grossly generic statement - and one that is fine if the script has such people but if it hasn't and no crew member is to blame (like every episode of Star Trek) then this blanket statement is damaging IMO. And talking of Star Trek, when the Enterprise is under attack you can bet your bottom dollar that the dialogue is explicit.


                      In an emergency, tensions among the crew are likely to come to the fore because they're all under stress. They won't be operating like a well-oiled machine, much as they might like to and know they should.
                      Then you have no idea of what you are talking about. Astronauts and militray personnel, not forgetting emergency crews are deisgned and highly trained to operate like a well oiled machine.

                      You can pick many a film where people speak direct and without subtext, in calm situations let alone stressful ones. Someone brought up Back to the Future in my last thread and that is a classic example where people almost always speak without subtext.

                      MARTY: Wait a minute Doc, are you telling me this sucker is nuclear?
                      DOC: No this baby's electrical. But I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need.

                      It wasn't:
                      MARTY: Y'know, Doc, some people would wonder if unleaded could have such an effect. They may suspect other means.
                      DOC: Oh you know, where there's a will, there's a way.


                      And:
                      Marty McFly: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Doc... Are you telling me that it's 8:25?
                      Dr. Emmett Brown: Precisely.
                      Marty McFly: Damn! I'm late for school!


                      Not:
                      Marty McFly: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Doc... Are you telling me that it's 8:25?
                      Dr. Emmett Brown: Precisely.
                      Marty McFly: No! This is not good!


                      Etc etc.


                      Fanatic's script is leaden and heavily generic, plus illogical as nebulas aren't dangerous but there's nothing wrong with the way his characters are being direct, IMO.
                      1mper1um
                      Member
                      Last edited by 1mper1um; 01-11-2011, 02:10 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

                        Originally posted by fanatic_about_film View Post
                        And thanks Dock:

                        ...however I do see a few places where subtext can be added to lessen some of the talk. for instance, instead of:

                        Well I am thankful for your example, but what did you really achieve. You took away the "get out my way" statement by my main character, which is cool, perhaps I could play that small beat without him literally saying "get out of my way".

                        Then you cut down "That could take hours, Mendes. We could be dead in minutes." to "We don't have time Mendes!". In doing so you have changed what he is saying, which is wrong for the scene. It's not that he personally doesn't have time available tyo do it, it's that the crew and ship don't have the time. They 'could' be dead in minutes if he doesn't do it.
                        yea i got that part. i cut it down and got str8 to the point. my only point was to show how you could lose the fat, not rewrite your scene, i dont know your characters and only read what you have posted so there's no way i can do it any real justice. i dont even know what its about or the title.

                        It's not that he personally doesn't have time available tyo do it, it's that the crew and ship don't have the time.
                        right. that's why i said "WE" don't have time. we as in the entire crew and ship. my goal was to say as much as possible with as few words as possible.

                        Originally posted by fanatic_about_film View Post
                        But anyway, your suggestion cut down on a few lines (which is all good) but it didn't layer in any subtext into the dialogue in anyway. And that's what I'm looking to do, if it is needed.
                        actually i wasnt trying to layer in a bunch of subtext, you actually have some subtext in there already - the fact he was about to pull his gun is subtext in itself, but then it's ruined by all the extra talk in the next 2 lines. pulling a gun or "about" to pull a gun on somebody (especially a crew member) should speak volumes. why ruin it? i was trying to cut the fat and get to the point. as mentioned before, a lot of what your characters are saying feel artificial, like if i blanked out the character names there's no way i'd have a sense of who's saying what because they all sound and talk the exact same in the exact same way, like robots speaking in complete sentences every line of dialogue. there's an emergency situation going on where they could all die in seconds, yet it doesnt reflect in their voices or words or even in their actions in a couple parts. they're able to maintain perfect complete sentences at all times and explain to the audience what the exact problem is...is this crisis happening within seconds or next week?

                        Originally posted by fanatic_about_film View Post
                        New question to everyone: I admit it is often 'straight-forward' dialogue, but is that the same as 'on the nose' dialogue??? Do people use the 'on the nose' statement wrong sometimes?
                        i think it depends on who you talk to, because i've had that comment made before in the past and have had to ask them to be more specific. some people use it interchangeably.

                        you know a cool exercise that helped me out? having some people read the script out loud. i actually work with actors, and it's no problem to find somebody trying to act who's willing to do a table read. you'd be amazed at how fast you identify whats not working in terms of dialogue.
                        "Making movies is a collaborative process...bend over."

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                        • #13
                          Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

                          Originally posted by 1mper1um View Post
                          Fanatic's script is leaden and heavily generic, plus illogical as nebulas aren't dangerous but there's nothing wrong with the way his characters are being direct, IMO.
                          i'm a little confused by this statement. are you saying the script is heavily generic but that has nothing to do with how the dialogue is written?
                          One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams. If you don't, regret will be your reward.

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                          • #14
                            Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

                            Hey Mac, thanks for your input. I definitely see what you mean with some of what you say, however, I think if you saw my script in full it would answer some of your points.

                            eg: Avery starts off wanting the engines. Then when he discovers that he can't have engines until a hole is repaired he suddenly changes his mind - and Mendes is the one who argues that they need the engines! Why not make it consistent?

                            It's actually Avian, not Avery. Well firstly, everyone 'wants' engines. If they work they can just get the hell out of there, no problem. When he finds out that there is a hole leaking fuel into space he know that the storms lightning/electricity could easily spark the fuel, and instantly kill everyone. So yes he wants to 'jettison' the fuel tanks immediately. In doing so, it will leave them stranded (but alive). However stranded in deep space pretty much 'could' mean death anyway. Mendes chooses to 'fix the engine hole' option. I guess it is a matter of two characters wanting different things. But that's conflict, right? That's what we need, right?

                            Imagine you are driving your boat along and you see a massive oil tanker in front of you. Would you say "It's huge! We need to back out on a heading of 295.6 degrees --"

                            That just doesn't seem natural. The heading doesn't even make sense - in 3 dimensions you don't have a heading of a certain number of degrees !!! It seems like it was just put in to make it sound technical.
                            Actually the storm isn't in front of them, it's all around them. They are actually inside the storm cloud. They need to 'back-out' of it. Maybe you're right about the degree co-ordinate thing though.


                            Avery's problem is that he is trying to control the engines and yet his controls are doing nothing. Yet that isn't what happens - when he flicks a switch instead of his controls doing nothing sparks appear. So his controls are doing something. If you want to communicate that his controls are useless (because of the safety override due to the fuel leak) then have his controls do nothing.

                            Well actually the lightning is hitting the ship, and screwing up lots of internal circuits, causing everything to go haywire. So his controls do 'something' just not what they are suppose to do. His lack of control has nothing to do with a safety override. Besides sparks are more visual than 'just nothing'.


                            Then someone "stern, contentious, authoritative nature" enters the room ... but all eyes turn to face someone else? How can someone be described as 'authoritative' .. yet when he walks into the room everyone looks at someone else?

                            I'm a bit confused by what you're saying? This is just the characters general description. Just to give a sense of his overall personality. It's not intended to showcase how the other characters react to him at this particular moment.

                            Someone else is described as "a bubble of energy and tomboy charm" ... yet this 'bubble of energy' stops and delivers a line of dialog before acting.

                            Okay but what do you mean. Yeah she gives a line, but so what? I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. Again that is just a general character description.

                            This is near the beginning of the script so most characters are introduced for the first time here.

                            Someone who is described as "tough but with a big heart" - but their dialogue is "Sir, I'm making an official complaint against you and will record this in my logbook." Is that the voice of someone who is 'tough' !?

                            Well I don't agree with you here. She is standing up to the 'acting Captain' of the ship and challenging him. I think that is actually a pretty 'tough' thing to do. She's a strong willed female serving on board a predominantly male ship, and she challenges her superior. But does it respectfully too. What do you think?

                            Avery decides that they have only minutes to live if he doesn't act ... so he says "That could take hours, (First name)". It just doesn't seem like a natural speech pattern. When you are replying to someone with only minutes left to live ... would you really include their name in your reply!?

                            Maybe you're right. I don't know. I went through my whole script and took out a lot of names contained in the dialogue, but I left that one, as I felt that it was an important line, and he wanted to magnify it's importance by stating her name. You know what I mean?


                            Another thing that doesn't seem to make any sense - Avery's solution is to disconnect the fuel tank and presumably let it drift. Yet they will still have no thrusters ... so the leaky fuel tank will just sit a few meters away from them ready to be detonated! They will still need to put distance between themselves and the fuel tank. So that doesn't solve their problem at all !!

                            Worst still - since it seems likely the leak would be on the outside - the venting will push the tank TOWARDS them .. they'll never be able to get rid of the damn thing without thrusters !!!

                            Actually, the fuel tank is 'jettisoned' away from the ship in a scene a few pages later. And thrusters operate on a different system to the main liquid fuel tank.

                            All of this just makes this whole scene seem a bit 'we've seen this all before in cheap Sci-Fy films' kind of feel to it ... characters shouting at each other while sparks fly from their terminals. Even with some old fashioned fisti-cuffs!

                            Well I certainly hope that's not the case, and it isn't inteded to come of as the cheapo sci-fi. However I am under no illusion that this is at the top of the originality list. But I think a lot of sci-fi can always be backdated to earlier works.

                            I just wrote it as I am very interested in sci-fi in general. I can only write what I love.


                            They aren't acting as a professional well-oiled machine. They are having fisticuffs and having irrational plans. I certainly hope someone manages to rescue the crew from Avery's poorly thought out plan.

                            I think this is a little unfair as you have no idea how the rest of the scene/script pans out. Maybe Avian saves the day. Maybe Avian puts them into a worse poosition. Maybe not everyone agreed with hsis decision. Maybe this is a huge source of 'conflict' in my script.


                            Good luck,

                            Mac


                            Thanks buddy.

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                            • #15
                              Re: ...from my other 'on the nose' dialogue thread...

                              Another grossly generic statement - and one that is fine if the script has such people but if it hasn't and no crew member is to blame (like every episode of Star Trek) then this blanket statement is damaging IMO. And talking of Star Trek, when the Enterprise is under attack you can bet your bottom dollar that the dialogue is explicit.

                              Hey 1mper1um, I guess it is similar to a star trek episode. When everything is flashing red alert, and the captain walks onto the bridge, when he says:

                              CAPTAIN
                              Report!

                              His first officer will tell him exactly what's happening, no subtext. Atleast not all the time there isn't.

                              FIRST OFFICER
                              Two Klingon Warbirds, closing in fast, shields down to 30%.

                              CAPTAIN
                              Casualties?

                              FIRST OFFICER
                              Three dead. Twelve injured. We won't survive another hit like that.


                              You can pick many a film where people speak direct and without subtext, in calm situations let alone stressful ones. Someone brought up Back to the Future in my last thread and that is a classic example where people almost always speak without subtext.

                              MARTY: Wait a minute Doc, are you telling me this sucker is nuclear?
                              DOC: No this baby's electrical. But I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need.

                              Exactly, there are times when they say exactly what they mean, especially in the types of sci-fi we're talking about.

                              Fanatic's script is leaden and heavily generic, plus illogical as nebulas aren't dangerous but there's nothing wrong with the way his characters are being direct, IMO.

                              I don't disagree with this.

                              However Nebulas not being dangerous isn't entirely true. I have done research into them and they believe that some may contain lightning, and some with gases so dense it would crush a spaceship.

                              But any, even if they were harmless, it wouldn't stop me. This nebula is dangerous, and for more reasons than you might think.

                              Hey, there's no 'sound' in space, but that's never stopped any Star Wars or Star Trek film, etc.
                              fanatic_about_film
                              Member
                              Last edited by fanatic_about_film; 01-11-2011, 01:41 AM.

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