Dialogue - How much is too much?

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  • Bargaintuan
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    You could use props. Once you have props, people can stir their coffee, doodle, twirl their guns, loosen their ties, etc.

    Of course, the hard part is making the action fit the character and the mood. In this way, the action becomes unspoken dialogue. Is Jeff loosening his tie because he's made nervous by what he's hearing from Tom? Is Bob doodling because he really isn't interested in what Carol's saying? Or is he trying to avoid facing her?

    Leave a comment:


  • Inkdaub
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    I get freaked when I see too many lines of dialogue in a row. I am actually trying to break a habit of adding arbitrary action lines to alleviate said freakedness.

    Looking over my work I have identified a few favorites.

    Voltron smiles.

    Voltron looks around.

    Or sometimes for fun...

    Voltron smiles and looks around.

    Yeah, I'm working on it.

    Leave a comment:


  • vig
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    i'd like to answer this question if you'd be so kind.

    BILL
    you say one more word...
    i mean one more and
    i'll shoot you... that i will
    you ham and egg bastard...
    not-one-word.

    MR. SHOULD OF CLOSED MOUTH
    but...

    BANG.

    know that was an exmple of when one more word, was overkill.

    vig

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  • twilightdew
    replied
    Re: Characters trapped in one place

    Is the whole movie set on a bus or just a portion of it?

    You might want to look at some movies that show characters who are stuck in one place (either by themselves or with others) for a period of time.

    Speed (city bus)

    Cast Away (island)

    The Negotiator (one floor of high-rise building)
    A must-see film if you like thriller/suspense films, in my opinion.

    Die Hard (One office building)

    Clerks (convenience store and video store that are side by side)
    They even play hockey on the roof!

    Albino Alligator (a bar)
    Kevin Spacey's directorial debut. They really used every corner of that bar, including the bathroom. Virtually the entire movie is set there.

    Panic Room (in a panic room, of course)

    Movies that are set in prisons, mental institutions, space ships, submarines, etc.

    Besides exploring different parts of your small setting, you may want to also think about how to get your character(s) off the bus--even if it's just for a short time.

    The bus could get a flat tire, the bus could be involved in an accident, someone on the bus could need medical attention, the bus could get pulled over by the police, etc. You could research what Greyhound does in those type of emergencies for some ideas.

    Since your setting is a greyhound bus, you could explore having your main character(s) coming in contact with a wide range of people, maybe even someone from their past.

    A character on the bus could call someone on the phone or fall asleep/daydream (and we see what he/she is thinking about).

    If nothing else, a character could get kicked off the bus (maybe it's unjustly or she/he is set up) and now he/she has to walk or find other transportation.

    ~dew

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  • Empath
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    Thanks Dobbs! This thread you linked me to is especially helpful.

    Leave a comment:


  • dobbs
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    Empath, the answer to your question is better arrived at if it's rephrased. Instead of "how much is too much?" ask "how much do I need?"

    The answer regarding *everything* in screenwriting (dialogue, action, whatever) is "as little as you can get away with". Good screenwriting is about economy. Use as few words as possible to get across everything that is mandatory to tell the story.

    If a character's eye color is important (and it almost always isn't), include it. Otherwise, don't.

    If a character MUST be short/fat/skinny/whatever... say so. If not, don't.

    If you can communicate everything necessary for the scene with 5 words of dialogue instead of 25, do so.

    From your sample, I would say that you're vastly overwriting, especially your action. As others have said, it is not your job to direct the actors and give them business to do with their hands/mouths/whatever.

    I would say that the bulk of all action I see in amateur scripts is not only "too much" but "completely unnecessary". If two scripts can tell the same story and one has 50% more whitespace, it's the better script. Yes, there are exceptions, but they're few and far between and using them for a defense almost always means you don't know what you're doing.

    Here's a very lengthy post about dialogue that I made on another forum. You may find it of use.

    Leave a comment:


  • Biohazard
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    Originally posted by greyghost
    I just watched a DVD of Sling Blade..twice. I had never seen the movie before.

    It is a brilliant movie and seems to break many so-called "rules" of exposition, dialogue and pacing.

    It is so well-written, and the characters are so vivid and compelling, you can't quit watching.

    I came away believing you can almost get away with anything if it is well-executed.
    Billy Bob Thornton is a damn good writer. I loved One False Move. I bought The Gift a while back but haven't watched it yet.

    A good film that a lot of dialogue is Gaslight. It's mostly all dialogue, but very entertaining.

    Leave a comment:


  • TwoBrad Bradley
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    In screenplays people only talk becuse thay want something.

    Leave a comment:


  • Empath
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    Originally posted by odriftwood
    Yes but you won't be the one reading it....
    Excellent point.

    Leave a comment:


  • odriftwood
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    I've been including as much detail as I would want to read, likely I'm just too used to books. http://scriptsales.com/boards/images/smilies/tongue.gif
    Yes but you won't be the one reading it....

    Leave a comment:


  • Empath
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    Thanks Geevie! I really wish I was one of those crazy fast writer people, and I might manage such feats if I drank coffee by the barrelful and did nothing else but write. As it is, I'm on a month break between semesters, and am trying to relax a little before diving back into coursework.

    As to prep work, I've done quite a bit of brain wracking, research, scribbling out of ideas (I've written about fifteen pages of mostly random stuff related to the story), rethinking, and have the basic plot structure together. I've started writing bits of scenes I know will be part of the final rough draft, but if it can really be that easy to barrel through it, I think I should probably go back and work more on the outlining...


    Odrift, I wasn't certain how much exposition is necessary, some scripts I've read I had a hard time following for lack of detail. I've been including as much detail as I would want to read, likely I'm just too used to books.

    Leave a comment:


  • odriftwood
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    Emp,

    It feels like from your sample that you're overwriting things. You don't need to know every little nuance a character makes in response to every line of dialogue. Just let it rip.

    And if you have to ask
    how much is too much
    ... it's too much....

    Leave a comment:


  • TheKeenGuy
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    Originally posted by Ravenlocks
    You could also consider changing locations while they're talking. Their conversation could start at a restaurant, pick up in the car, continue in a back alley and end as one character knifes the other and dumps him in a dumpster. You don't have to show them getting from one place to another, and you can keep the conversation flowing unbroken as you switch locations, even though in real life it wouldn't do that. But you're not writing real life or real dialogue, you're writing the illusion of real life and dialogue.
    I absolutely hate this convention. It is mostly used in film adaptations of plays, and it rarely ever works.

    Leave a comment:


  • Geevie
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    Originally posted by Empath
    As to writing a novel, I don't quite have the patience to spend a year focusing on a single story.
    Actually, surprisingly, it doesn't take that long to write a novel. Similarly, there are people who can and do spend a year working on a single script.

    The best thing is to have direction where you're going in either medium. If you do enough prep work you can crank out a novel (and especially a screenplay) fairly quickly. My current record is a bit over a month for a novel and a week for a screenplay. (Both based on the same idea)

    If you're not working by an outline then just purge it all onto the page. Don't worry about structure or the "rules" as much as discovering the story you want to tell. Your first draft of your first script is going to work like an outline anyway. Get it all out, then you can worry about trimming the fat later. Go ahead and write those eight pages of sparkling dialogue - just know that when you go through it again you will probably cut it down to two pages and not lose one thing.

    Dialogue is great, and if you're good at it the tendency will be strong to depend on your strength. I know. This is a problem I'm very familiar with. But I can tell you the best feeling in the world is to get to that point where no words are needed in a scene at all. Better than a drug, I tellya.

    Leave a comment:


  • Empath
    replied
    Re: Dialogue - How much is too much?

    Wow, thanks for the responses everyone!

    KeenGuy - Thanks for the pointers, there's lots I'd like to convey about the characters (the story being character-centric, this also pushes the story forward), I'm working on boiling it down to the bare basics, and doing my best to be entertaining.

    GreyGhost - Encouraging to hear, I'm doing my best.

    KeenGuy - My writing is definately not exemplary, so I'm trying to stick to the established rules.

    Geevie - Good points, I'm working to make it snappy.
    As to writing a novel, I don't quite have the patience to spend a year focusing on a single story. And I'm not writing this just to write it, but to learn about screenwriting. I've always had an interest in storytelling, and have in the past done acting, theatre production, animation and visual effects, a little short story writing, poetry, and wanted to try my hand at this just to see how I liked it. I'm only seventeen, so I'm exploring options.

    Ravenlocks - Excellent tips! I'll see what I can do to include them, but the situation I have set up doesn't really lend itself to a lot of that. It's a road movie, and the conversation starts up between strangers in the back of a greyhound bus (location switching out the window there). I do already have a few actions woven in, and I'll see what more I can add.

    Here, don't bother to comment on the screenwriting aspects of this (when I feel I have anything written to the best of my abilities, I'll post it in the script pages forum), but this is what I have so far:

    Code:
    
    GIRL
    Hey.
    
    Alex turns, looking like he just got caught with his hand in a cookie jar.
    
    GIRL
    Iâ€TMm not much of one for starting conversations either, but can we at least be honest that we want to talk to each other?
    
       Alexâ€TMs mouth opens, but no words are forthcoming.
    
                 GIRL
    Would you at least come and sit where we can talk?
     
       Alex hesitates.
    
                 ALEX
    I, uh… been on the road a while. Donâ€TMt think you want to smell me…
    
                 GIRL
    (amused)
    Donâ€TMt worry about it, I donâ€TMt smell of roses myself.
    
       With a slight shrug, he awkwardly moves to the seat across from her, sits down, sets his pack on the seat beside him.
    
       …
    
                 GIRL
    So whatâ€TMs your name?
    
       Alex.
    
       She extends her hand.
    
                 GIRL
    Evelyn Hunt. Eve, to keep it simple.
    
       Alex hesitates, then lightly shakes her hand.
    
       Eve gives him a miffed look.
    
       …
    
                 EVE
    Do you know why people shake hands?
    
       He looks at her quizzically.
    
                 EVE
    To show that weâ€TMre unarmed. I donâ€TMt bite either, so you can stop being so nervous.
    
    Alex smiles, relaxes a little.
    


    Bleargh, this thing chewed it up and spat it out bass ackwards. Sorry...
    Last edited by Empath; 06-13-2005, 09:32 AM.

    Leave a comment:

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