Improving Your Script’s Dialogue

Dialogue is one of the hardest things to write, and lucky for us screenwriters, it’s basically all we write. When I started my first script, I remember being terrified at this realization–I’m great at description, just let me do that! But in reality, the description is ultimately up to the director, so we should take full advantage of the one place writers do have control: the dialogue

I came across a couple of really interesting articles that may be useful for all the aspiring screenwriters out there  in helping to improve your script’s dialogue. The first is actually useful for any kind of writing, and it talks about redundancy. Eliminating redundancy in your script is essential–every word counts when you only have a set number of pages within which to tell your story, so why say the same thing twice? Check out the article here.

50 Redundant Phrases Writers Should Avoid
Mark Nichol @DailyWritingTips

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In conversation, it’s easy in the midst of spontaneous speech to succumb to verbosity and duplication. In writing, redundancy is less forgivable but fortunately easy to rectify.”

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And the second article is quite fun for even non-writers. I always thought it would be fun to write a show set in a prison, but I have zero knowledge of how people really talk on the inside. This article has 50 examples of prison slang to help you write realistic dialogue for a prison setting, or to just help you sound like a tough guy. Check it out here.

50 Prison Slang Words To Make You Sound Like a Tough Guy
Matt Sniak @ mental_floss

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We’ve been just a little bit obsessed with old timey and subcultural slang here at the Floss as of late, and today we’re going to mine one of the richest sources for weird slang and code-talk: criminals. Here are some choice bits of prison lingo we’ve gathered from slang dictionaries, true crime stories, prisoners’ memoirs, and correctional officers.”

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Adapting ‘The Hobbit’ for the Big Screen

As I mentioned briefly in my Top Ten Films of 2012 list, I really wanted The Hobbit to be great, and although it is certainly an enjoyable film, something about it just doesn’t seem quite right. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the book is essentially meant for children, and as such it is above all about adventure, not about some epic mission or battle between good and evil. In this way, it is episodic – it describes the various adventures Bilbo encounters on his journey instead of some grand overarching plot (although there is of course an end goal in mind). And of course, most obviously, the book is short. Much shorter than each of the installments of Lord of the Rings, which were each turned into one film, while this shorter work is being turned into three. There just simply isn’t enough to the story to make it to three 2.5- to 3-hour movies without it feeling a little strained. And it definitely did.

Adapting works from one medium to another is extremely common right now, whether it involves literature, film, television, video games, etc. This is something that writers of all kind need to take note of. The struggles of cross-media adaptation are many, and usually directly related to the work and media forms at hand, but The Hobbit represents one example of a literature-to-film adaptation that doesn’t quite work in some ways.

Philippa Boyens, one of the screenwriters on both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, discussed the struggles of adapting The Hobbit for the big screen in a recent interview. While admitting the difficulties involved in such a task, she defends the choices of the writers, producers, director, and studio. What do you think of her take?

Hobbit Week: A Conversation with Hobbit Screenwriter Philippa Boyens
Ethan Gilsdorf @ Wired

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If you have quibbles or major beefs about how The Hobbit was adapted for Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy, Philippa Boyens has answers.

The production has been surrounded in controversy, ever since it was announced that the 300-odd page novel by J.R.R. Tolkien would become not one film, but two. Then, in July, Jackson, Warner Brothers Pictures and MGM dropped the bomb that the adaptation would encompass three films. Many cried foul. Other cried greed.”

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