Pace in Dialogue

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  • Pace in Dialogue

    I've tried searching for the answer here and online, but I'm not really getting it.

    How do you write pace, like hesitation, in dialogue? For instance, Bob speaks with measured words, often pausing to consider his next words.

    BOB

    If I had to name my favorite Beatle-- It'd be John. When you think about it-- He was the soul of that band.


    Bob hesitates between Beatle/It'd and then again between it/He. Do you uses dashes (--) ellipsis (...) and if not, how do you approach this to replicate the pace of said character?

  • #2
    Re: Pace in Dialogue

    If he always speaks like that, then mention it when you first introduce Bob and rarely refer to it again. The actor will be responsible for it. Only do it in the dialogue when it impacts the meaning of the lines and cannot be inferred in any other way.

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    • #3
      Re: Pace in Dialogue

      That's about how i'd do it.

      BOB HAS A STUTTER. IT TAKES HIM TWICE AS LONG TO GET HIS WORDS OUT.

      BOB
      I.... think.... That we shouldddddd - gooooo..... hoooo---home.

      Something along those lines... But that may get old too. But people often do that. I hope Bob isn't the main character.

      Maybe use an example from a well known movie or actor just so the person reading it gets it.

      BOB SPEAKS SLOWLY AND THOUGHTFULLY, PAUSING TO CONSIDER HIS WORDS. CLINT EASTWOOD IN A WESTERN STYLE.

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      • #4
        Re: Pace in Dialogue

        in The King's Speech they have it in a parenthetical and in the action lines. both work well here. also you might want to consider that someone with a stutter might actually choose shorter sentences to make it easier to speak.

        bono gives a good example. you just don't want the stuttering to be too overbearing or distracting from the story, so you'll want to use care when you focus on it. for example, when people are under duress or stressed, their stutter might actually be worse.

        imo, you don't want to mention it once and then never again, you want to remind the audience when it's important. when someone reads your script the character's dialogue's cadence and rhythm is a reflection of his character.

        just play around with it until it feels right. you can post some pages in the script pages and we can offer feedback on how it reads to each of us. getting other opinions will help you better identify when it works well and when it may not.

        the key in The King's Speech is that he didn't always stutter. so consider when is the worst time for your character and you can better focus the literal stuttering in those times.

        below are a couple examples from The King's Speech.

        Code:
        BERTIE (ON RADIO)
        (stuttering profoundly)
        Be that as it may...my brother David is
        attending to other duties in the furthest
        parts of this vast Empire...
        
        At first the momentum of speaking without being heard carries
        Bertie forward.
        
        BERTIE
        What’s needed is cooperation...
        
        Hearing his own voice reverberate through the cavernous factory
        brings Bertie’s stutter back in full form.
        
        BERTIE (CONT’D)
        ...buh-buh-between the cuh-cuh-classses...
        hope some of that helps.
        "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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        • #5
          Re: Pace in Dialogue

          Originally posted by realphipps View Post
          BOB

          If I had to name my favorite Beatle-- It'd be John. When you think about it-- He was the soul of that band.

          Bob hesitates between Beatle/It'd and then again between it/He. Do you uses dashes (--) ellipsis (...) and if not, how do you approach this to replicate the pace of said character?
          Ellipsis for pauses, dashes when you character is interrupted.

          Code:
                             BOB
                If I had to name my favorite Beatle?... 
                It'd be John. When you think about it 
                he... was the soul of that band.
          
          and...
          
                             BOB
                If I had to name my favorite Beatle?...
                It'd be John--
          
                             BILL
                --No way! Paul all the way, dude!
          STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

          Comment

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