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Notes From Script Magazine for Teaching Screenwriting-5

57. Script- V11#2. – Walking the Talk- p.48- 21 Tips on Dialogue

1. Great dialogue plays- find the voice that works for you!! This voice is different from you the writer- your style- but your character’s dialogue must PLAY- WORK- BRING THE MAGIC
2. Great Dialogue means knowing your characters:
a. do you character homework- clarify his background
b. make decisions about flaws, foibles and idiosyncrasies, likes , dislikes, looks and even voice
c. does he interrupt because he likes the sound of his own voice?
d. Does he use poetry instead of logic?
e. Great dialogue is irrevocably tied to an understanding of your  character
f. Once you know him inside and out you may feel him living and breathing
3. It is the re-creation of the soul: it represents what the character is feeling.
a. it gives a sense of time and space
b. it has subtext- gives back story without being obvious
c. it has to be emotional and let us into the growth process of the character
d. it is multi-dimensional
4. Gives information about the character
5. Moves the story forward
6. Develops theme
7. Creates conflict
8. Secrets, lies and wounds:
a. great dialogue reveals the truth by pointing to the untruth.
b. The last thing we say in conversation is the truth
c. Sometimes words express how a person wishes he felt
d. Often a character says the opposite of what he is thinking
e. Even quiet moments and hesitations SPEAK VOLUMES
f. What a character is hiding adds volumes about that person
9. Layering- the tapestry of truth.
a. layer, layer, layer- always as you write and rewrite
b. ingredients: his thoughts, emotions, words and actions
c. providing counterpoint and humor
d. ex: you can trust me ( meaning the opposite)
e. ex: I’ll get back to you- (never)
f. ex: that film had great cinematography AA( it sucked)
10. Multitasking
a. bad dialogues often like that lazy employee- it does as little as possible to get by
b. trim you work force and make your characters work twice as hard
c. dialogue should always multitask- it can be entertaining, moving, underscore the theme, shift the story into high gear….but it always needs to be doing AT LEAST TWO OF THE FIVE
11. Great Dialogue avoids obvious exposition
a. where characters say information purely for the benefit of the audience
b. Hello, sean and sara, my neighbors and good friends of ten years.
c. Awful: bring in a character who doesn’t know Jack and Jack and have everybody explain it to him
d. Look at beginning of Minority Report with Colin Farrell’s character enters. ( we are so fascinated we don’t care about the exposition)
12. Great Dialogue adds tension cleverly: putting character in jeopardy can help layer dialogue
a. what would two nuns say if their car was hanging over a cliff?
b. Strolling though a garden path talking about sex
c. If you have to use monologue, do so in an interesting way

13. Great Dialogue: conveys information discreetly
a. convey information without spelling it out
b. instead of saying Charlie has a drinking problem you can show another character chewing someone out for brining a beer into Charlie’s house.
c. Has a benefit of layering information
d. Indirect exposition is essential when revealing deep character wounds to the audience
14. Great Dialogue goes deeper:
a. great dialogue scores at the core of a character’s issues.
b. In sideways a character describes a type of wine but you know he’s talking about himself
c. Reveal inner most dreams, goals, thoughts, and feelings of you character
15. Great Dialogue gets cut to the bone
a. in the rewrite  edit the hell out of your dialogue- cut everything- especially the stuff you like.  ( okay, you don’t have to do that)
b. have you fallen in love with something that really doesn’t belong in the scene?
c. You become married to it but it holds the story back-
d. Remove it and sees if the story flows better than before

16. Great Dialogue works the opposites
a. it’s only in real life that we aimlessly babble- so in a movie every character speaks for a reason
b. if on scene it was real life it would be like at a family gathering- boring
c.  examine the dialogue- what is it’s goal, objective
d. cajole, plead, seduce or just get a rise, insult
e. can he just come right out and accuse someone, or is he afraid to?
f. Creating conflict is a sophisticated kind of layering that works best if it plays at cross purposes to the character’s goals.
g. It can create tension
h. Example wants to borrow 20 dollars but is mad as hell at the person- crackles-
17. Great Dialogue Curves the Cliché
a. clichés became clichés for a reason- they are true but  become so overused that they lose any impact and become mockeries of the former selves
b. cliché-finder at Westegg.conm/cliché- type in dog and see what happens
c. change the structure of the phrase- adverbs, fresh adjectives- may make a differences
d. honor what you want to say, but find a fresh way of saying it
18. Great Dialogue Establishes Tone, Town and Time
a. The three “T”s
b. Tone refers to the genre of the film
c. What is you character’s approach to his world
d. Does your character thrive on sports then sprinkle that into his dialogue
e. Sparkling dialogue lives in the rhythms of life
f. Shifts in time affect dialogue
19. Great Dialogue draws closely than life from life
a. people think they can borrow from life verbatim and throw it onto the canvas  that is your film
b. direct quotes from life do not even begin to echo the layers and depth crafted dialogue can.
c. Great dialogue is tied to theme and arc
d. It is not on the nose, but subtly rings with everything your character is about
e. Real life sayings are truly difficult to ring in
f. You better write an argument between your characters that is 10 time more clever, riddled with subtext and suspense than the one you had with your best friend last night
20. Silence is golden- so listen already!!!!!

58. Script- V11#2- Divine Secrets of the Rah-Rah Brotherhood- ( heroes we will root for) by STATON RABIN

1. What if you wrote a great script but no body liked your hero?
2. He must be fascinating-
3. What kind of personality traits will prove appealing to a film auedience?
4. Compassion, humor, expertise, stick-to-itiveness, self-sacrifice , charm ,generosity, empathy, courage, integrity, reliability, honesty.
5. Audiences like disadvantaged characters who find clever ways out of a jam
6. Someone who wins with agility and wits
7. KINDHEARTEDNESS:  is another quality that makes a film hero attractive
a. Chaplin is always adopting dogs, waifs or other misfits of society
b. These are called “pat the dog” scenes
c. Sometimes a character may  be gruff but if we understand the source of his pain it helps us
d. Present your protagonist with a painfully difficult choice between two options- one which will result in selfish gain for him, the other being more altruistic or noble.
e. A anti hero should have admirable qualities though a villain- the godfather takes care of his family
f. If the anti-hero kills, it should not be extra violent nor should he enjoy it- self defense is preferable
g.  Make sure your protagonist is an underdog and outnumbered as this increases sympathy
h. sometimes we like our main character because the enemy is even worse
i. a protagonists sense of humor makes him likable
j. Hannibal Lecter is fascinatingly evil and very good at what he does
k. Give him a redeeming choice- Sir Thomas More in “A Man for all Seasons.”
l. Keep in mind that heroes are never perfect and often have some flaw that their character ark overcomes
m. And villains are never irredeemably evil
n. The audience will like him if the stakes are high enough and they care about the outcome
o. Tip: give your hero a love interest that sees his potential
p. Present your hero as noble, self- sacrificing and brave- 
q. Create a hero who is striving to become a better person
r. Give you hero fears or vulnerabilities and show him struggling to overcome them- Indiana Jones and his snakes.
s. Give your hero a special talent or enterprise which he uses to pursuit of his dream even when the deck is stacked against him.
t. Show that the hero fights bigotry or learns to overcome his prejudices without preaching
u. A hero must be in active pursuit of his goal

59. Script- Vol. 10, #3 page 56- Spec TV Drama Script- Rich Whiteshide
1. Basic TV Paradigm
2. Act One defines what’s at stake
3. Act Two- all characters are working toward the goal in conflict with each other
4. End of Act Two- there is a complete reversal where all assumptions are upended
5. Act Three- the characters think they know how to solve the problem and move to do so
6. End of Act Three- they realize they’re wrong and at the wrong end of town in total jeopardy- the act takes the characters to a precipice
7. Act Four: the characters drive like hell to get to the problem then resolve it in a crafty, clever and witty way.
8. Or, boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back.
9. Act breaks are where the commercials go in.
10. Modified: TEASER  then four acts- teaser is three to five pages in first act
a. This paradigm is just the starting point for a story’s development
b. Before delving in- determine what the show is about at the CORE
c. “Cold Case” explores some unusual or hidden world within our normal world.
d. The stories express the THEME
e. “Without a Trace” – the team reconstructs the day of disappearance timeline following one singe rule- learn who the victim is in order to learn where the victim is- key: learn who the victim is
f. CSI is about getting the science right
g. Each act should end with a cliff hanger or at least something compelling to keep the audience from turning the channel
h. At the top of each consider recapping key information
i. It’s something David E. Kelly is a genius at this
j. In every act you reset every story
a. Important but not the most important
b. Your story and how you handle dialogue are foar more critical.
c. Lack of proper formatting is typically the sign of an amateur and perceived by many as a harbinger of bad things to come
d. “Television Writing from the Inside Out” – use the screen writing software for the format
e. in one format at the end of each slug line the writers indicate the number of hours the victim has been missing
f. All flashbacks are in bold- codes like (DOD)- day of disappearance
g. Howard Gordon ec. Of 24 says,” do whatever you can to get your hands on scripts.” Every show has its own unique rhythms.  Be a scientist about it- deconstruct it.
h. Search online for TV scripts
i. Most dramas fall into a page length of 55 to 65 pages
a. elements of what makes a great pitch are also what make a great spec-
b. it must be about people- us-
c. If  you walk out of a movie and you remember five scenes, that is a great movie
a. You’ve got to write what you’re passionate about, not what you think will sell.
b. Pick a show you like to watch
a. The best research is to be a fan of the series
b. Check the fan base online
a. every successful writer this author ever interviewed has been a firm believer in outlining before tackling the teleplay or screen play.
b. It’s the most difficult but fundamentally inseparable part of crafting a story
c. Most tv outlines run between 7 to 10 pages
d. In Judging Amy the outline is the hit up the beats of each individual story line
e. “unblended outlines where each storyline comes separately- five or sic beats for a legal story- eight for a personal story
f. At this point each beat is little more than a simple statement.
g. Only after the individual story beat outlines are nailed down does he begin to think of theme
h. Theme never comes first in Judging Amy- it decided on by which story is more powerful
i. Is it something between the mother and daughter, something at the bench?
j. Once the unblended outlines are approved, the writer weaves the stories into one overall outline
k. Once this is in place the writer fleshes out the simple  beats into broader description with a sense of the action and potential dialogue
l. In a teleplay use camera directions
m. TV is more about talking heads
n. Write, write, write, write to find your voice
o. Larry Brody’s  book “ Television Writing from the Inside Out” is solid on the subject
p. You have to blow their socks off.

60. Script #11, #3-  Commercial Considerations- Ray Morton
1. Even if a script is PERFECT it does not mean that it has market appeal
2. Still, there are definite things you can do.
3. First, be realistic about the kind of scripts that REALLY SELL
4. Most are of mainstream fare that are sold
5. Write something that has mainstream appeal
6. Why? Producers are looking for a sure thing-
8. Original screenplays are at a disadvantage
9. Overcome this by writing something familiar
11. The genre should fit the genre needs
12. The mixed ones are risky
13. Unfamiliar expectations runs the risk of either confusing or disappointing
14. If you are going to mix genres in your writing make sure you are really clear about what you are doing and that you honor the conventions of all the genres that you are interpolating.
16. You should have one
17. Solid idea not character studies, mood pieces, tone poems, ect
18. HOOK: you premise needs to have a strong hook
19. Ex: a man gets bitten by a radioactive arachnid and gaims the powers of spiders, a kid learns he can see, an alien gets stranded on earth.
20. Make sure you premise is very, very clear
21. Don’t make a person work hard to understand your premise
22. PLOT: first: fulfill genre expectations- certain conventions or elements
a. romantic comedy: two people from different worlds meet “cute”
b. warm to one another  and fall in love
c. a problem from differences breaks them up
d. in time they realize how much they love each other and get back together
e. if your story does not have these elements then it does not belong in the genre

23. If you do then the BUYER will feel more confident about the script
24. A solid plot has four or five SET PIECES akin to the genre-
25. Ex: action movie: explosions, duels to the deaths, etc
26. Complex is great but complicated is not
27. Have a happy ending! It sells better and producers know it
28. PLOT should be clear- if the buyer has to struggle to figure it out he probably will not buy
30. There has to be something about them that captures our interest – fascinates us
32. Single most important thing is the endorsement of the actor/star
33. You have to write parts that actors that are hot can play
34. Characters should be clear:  we should know who they are and what they’re about without too much guessing.
a. crisp and brisk
b. energy and pacing
c. not caught up in extraneous detail
d. have wit and style
e. avoid smart- assing favored by so many aspiring writers- annoying and tiresome
f. cinematic and visual
g. clear- giving us a good idea what is going on

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