Dialogue Is Easy; Scripts Are Difficult
Dialogue is the written form of speech. Sarah said, “Hello, Brad. Did you have a wonderful weekend?” These sentences read just like a person talking.
How does a writer come up with dialogue? That’s easy. A writer thinks about what a character would say, and they write it down. As a bonus, readers have low dialogue expectations because people are undisciplined when they speak. Verbal sentences get loaded with poor grammar, incorrect words, lazy abbreviations, invented words, goofy sounds, and lots of nonsense. “Umm. Ahh, hey. Like, what are you doing dis weekend? You know, after Friday and such? Can you answer that? Now? Today?” Am I exaggerating with that example? Not really. People can be lazy when they speak.
A typical fiction book contains 10 to 40% dialogue. This means that I only spend 20% of my self-editing time on the dialogue. Why? Because dialogue sentences are simple. The spoken information is, and the intent is obvious. However, the sentences supporting the dialogue are a different matter. They are direct, full of feelings, elaborate descriptions, and plot. Readers expect a lot of detail and clarity.
Plays and movies are in a distant category. They use a short [compared to a book] script containing 90% dialogue. The remaining 10% are terse notes about the scene and acting direction. The story within a play or a movie can only be told through dialogue, which makes every word critical.
The dialogue in a script must be perfect for carrying the story and fitting in a short time. A single spoken sentence can make or break the entire work. Want some proof? “Luke, I am your father.” Five simple words made the entire movie. Dialogue does not get much better than that.
I have an idea for two short plays and a movie. Are they any good? If I am, to be honest, I would say they would rate a grade C at this stage. If I worked on the concept, I think I could improve them. I would never consider those concepts letter grade A. Well, why not take the leap? Write a script and submit it. Perhaps I will get lucky, or somebody with more experience could polish it into something extraordinary.
I find creating a script too intimidating, but I enjoy writing dialogue because it is fun thinking about what a character would say.
Besides, readers do not read scripts. Instead, they watch movies or plays. Have you read the script for the epic movie Star Wars? Only the most devoted fan has ever read the script. Why? People enjoy watching the film, and there is no need to read the script. Besides, scripts are boring. Talk, talk, talk. A person reading a script needs all their imagination to view the scene.
A script is only worth something to a person who wants to turn it into a play or movie. Once accepted, many people get involved in production, which leads to another problem. When a movie or play fails, lots of people know about it. However, if a terrible book does not sell, it does not sell. The worst case is a warehouse full of unsold books and a few critical reviews. “Stan’s latest book is not a recommend read.” Granted, the author/publisher would not be too happy.
Does this mean that scripts are the pinnacle of writing? Perhaps. However, scripts are shorter than books, and when they do not sell, the public does not know. Will Hollywood ever get a hold of one of my scripts? Hmm. Probably not. Or is that something to aspire to? Hey, I got this. I could write a script about writing a script. I will call it “play on words.”
You’re the best -Bill
Setember 08, 2020
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