For me, dialogue is probably the “easiest” and least analyzed of the four parts of coverage.
Why? It’s either on the nose, or it isn’t.
It’s either got subtext, or not.
Dialogue is like tennis. Tennis is not the racket and the ball. It’s two people swinging it back & forth
A few tips:
- Say what you mean, but don’t go all existential on me. Ex. I read a script whose dialogue was trying SO hard not to be on the nose, SO hard to be clever, SO lofty that I had NO idea what the heck they were saying.
- If dialogue is hard for you, listen to people in a coffee shop & see how much of dialogue is really gestures, innuendo, & glances. This is why dialogue should never be huge solid blocks of print.
- Dialogue should push your scene into the next scene. This is the most frequent mistake. The conversation ends & everything is neatly wrapped up. There’s no reason to go to the next scene.
- The whole purpose of dialogue is to glaze the ham. It’s not the meat (conflict). It’s not the table setting (structure). The only reason dialogue is there is to sweeten what’s already there. Unfortunately, newbies tend to rely too much on dialogue and you get a mouthful of glaze. Ugh.
- If you’re going to use voice over, make darn sure you’ve explored every other option. I will not stomach lazy V.O. like: “I was destined to do something grand.” You’re trying to tell instead of show. That is cheating.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Dialogue can easily be rewritten. Do you really want to be rewritten?