Learning how to write dialogue that pops can turn a simple story into a hit. Take Juno for example. The premise itself is fairly simple yet add Diablo Cody’s snarky, funny dialogue to it … and BAM! Oscar win!
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Here are 5 expert ways to learn how to write dialogue that pops:
1. Character Dialogue – Listen to how people talk.
Notice the sentence structure when people talk. People often don’t speak in complete sentences or wait for the person to finish theirs before interrupting them. Try bringing a notepad with you the next time you go to a mall or coffee shop. Sit and listen, jotting down bits of dialogue.
2. How to make your screenplay dialogue tight – Show, don’t tell.
Sometimes people’s body language can say so much more than their words do. A film is a collaboration of artists, not a novel. Trust your actors to convey the intent of the scene you’re creating. Read each line of screenplay dialogue and ask yourself if there’s a way to put that same meaning into action.
3. When you use character dialogue for exposition, don’t make it on the nose.
Nothing is more distracting and boring than character dialogue that is obviously recapping an event for the purpose of exposition. Rip the dialogue apart and try to find a more creative way of exposing those details of the story.
4. Make sure all your characters speak in a unique voice.
Try dialogue writing exercises, such as going through your script, reading one character’s dialogue all on it’s own to check for continuity of that character’s voice. Repeat that exercise with all of your characters. This is the easiest, most efficient way to be sure every character has a voice of their own.
5. Less is more.
Rarely would a character’s dialogue end up as a speech, unless in a courtroom. When writing dialogue, try to “Twitterize” it by keeping it to 140 characters. You’ll be surprised how much fat you can edit out of your words, still achieving the same intent.
For more advice on writing dialogue that pops, download our free Dialogue Writing Tips & Advice from the Pros to test your screenplay dialogue and get tips to hone your dialogue writing skills.