Whenever we think of great ﬁlms, what we remember most is not the scenery nor thestructure, but the dialogue. Dialogue is the “music” of movies. From, “Frankly, my dear, Idon
t give a damn,” to “Go ahead, make my day.” From “Fasten your seat belts. It
s go-ing to be a bumpy night,” to “At my signal, unleash hell.” Great dialogue will make yourscript sing. And while story structure is more important to writing a successful screen-play, juicy dialogue can help attract an A-list star to your script. Powerful dialogue willalso give your script that extra bit of “zing” that can make the sale. Writing movie dialogue is like dancing: some people are born with a knack for it, andothers do it as awkwardly as your physics teacher attempting the funky chicken at thehigh school dance. But just like dancing, writing dialogue is a skill that can be learned.Here are my 10 best tips for creating memorable dialogue:
CONTEXT AND CHARACTER ARE EVERYTHING:
ll notice from the famousexamples given above, the best dialogue won
t make any sense to anyone who hasn
tseen the movie. Make sure your dialogue ﬁts the character who is speaking it, and thatit springs directly from story context instead of feeling “grafted on.” Even in comedies, ifa line isn
t true to the character and situation, it won
NO ONE SHOULD TALK LIKE ANYONE ELSE:
As in life, each character in your scriptshould have his own distinctive speaking style. To test this out in your script, cover upthe character names and see if you can still guess which character is speaking at anygiven moment. If your characters talk too much alike, ﬁx this.
NO “SMALL” ROLES:
Actors like to say, “There are no small roles. Only small actors.”When I read and evaluate a script, I worry when I see characters with generic nameslike “Thug #1” or “Waitress #2.” Too often, that naming convention results in equally ge-neric dialogue. Each character in your script should have a name (or at least a persona,such as, “Nervous Bank Teller”), and a distinctive personality—reﬂected in his dialogue.
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