Photo by William Bayreuther. Filmmaker and Photographer from Montreal, CAD. Instagram @Bayreuther.w
Create Realistic Dialogue Now: 17 Fast Tips
Get Your Conversations Rolling
Written by Sherri Sheridan
Keep the audience hungry for dialogue, using it only when you absolutely cannot show something visually. The more dialogue you use in your film, the less impact it will have on the viewer.
Each character should have a different set of words they use.
How does the character put words together in a unique way?
No two characters view the world in the same way. Football players talk like they are always in a huddle.
(4.) Use questions to answer questions.
Character A asks, “How was the party?” Character B replies, “Have you ever fallen through a skylight?”
(5.) Character avoids questions.
The character responds with silence, changes the topic, tentatively speaks or indefinitely responds.
(6.) Character responds with action instead of speech.
Character A asks, “How do you feel?” Character B punches a hole in the wall.
(7.) Character is in own world.
(8.) Character goes off on tangents.
(9.) Character doesn’t say what he/she really means.
Avoid using “on the nose” dialogue, meaning characters say what they really mean.
(10.) Characters interrupt each other.
(11.) Character speaks differently around different people.
(12.) Character dialogue is interrupted by outside interruptions.
Another character walks into the room, a bell goes off, the phone rings, or the door slams.
(13.) Characters who know each other really well use chaotic dialogue.
(14.) Character uses short dialogue bites.
Keep dialogue under two screenplay formatting lines for each character to avoid talking heads. Beginners tend to write their dialogue too long.
(15.) Characters say things difficult or embarrassing to discuss.
(16.) Read dialogue out loud as you write.
If the lines are hard to say or sound awkward, keep rewriting.
(17.) Make sure the first and last lines
of dialogue in your script are powerful and original.
Sherri Sheridan is a leading world expert in teaching story to digital filmmakers, animators, screenwriters and novelists. “Filmmaking Script To Screen Step-By-Step” her new book is coming to Amazon in 2021. An app featuring the step-by-step story process is also in the works. Other books include “Maya 2 Character Animation” (New Riders 1999), “Developing Digital Short Films” (New Riders / Peach pit / Pearson 2004) and “Writing A Great Script Fast” (2007). Sherri is the CEO and Creative Director at MindsEyeMedia.com and MyFlik.com in San Francisco.