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comicalmayhem's avatar

Advice for dialog?

Asked by comicalmayhem (809points) June 5th, 2011

I can’t embed a file on here, so I’m just gonna link you to the forum where I originally posted the question:

I need to practice dialog for this web series I’m working on. I slacked a bit on describing actions and formatting in my practice script, but I’m just looking for advice on dialog.

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7 Answers

comicalmayhem's avatar

anyone? A 3 page script doesn’t take that long to read.

cazzie's avatar

Kids don’t really talk like this. He wouldn’t say, ‘How do you like it here?’.. he’d say ‘What’s it like here?’

And he wouldn’t ask if the Cox was ‘abusive’.. he’d say.. ‘creep’ or ‘perv’ or pervo or pervert or what ever cool word is to use about a grown up who’s a bastard to them. Or, he’s just ask if Cox was ‘OK’. You could even use the exchange to elaborate on something one of the boys notices about him… like… ‘What is with that cologne he uses?’ or ‘Why does he always smell like strawberries?’ Some hint and something gross about the guy that makes the kids a bit uneasy. And do these kids say ‘violated’? Really? How about ‘creeped-out’ or ‘grossed-out’.

And he wouldn’t say ‘You seem awkward here.’ he would simply ask ‘How long have you been here?’ and then perhaps show his surprise that it’s that long by saying,’ Oh, Really? That long?. I would have thought… oh.. well, never mind.’

I think this is a very strange plot and context. You have to try to make these people seem real, not like they’re reading perfect English constructed on a piece of paper. (I don’t think this kid would say ‘Chilly’..) The main characters are going to have to be likeable in some way so that your audience will care enough about them to keep watching. Give them personalities, or talk to your actors about helping create one for them.

Good luck.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@cazzie The ‘kids’ are all about 16, they don’t have just a basic little kid vocabulary. Eric talks about being mature. The vocabulary in this scene is somewhat of a sign of that. Mason just came into the foster home and thinks of foster homes stereotypically with abusive parents and being miserable.
Eric is an intellectually mature and socially immature outsider.
Dialog on screen is very different from real life. But on screen dialog should still be believable.
We’ve developed personalities. This is just one practice scene of dialog.

SoupDragon's avatar

@comicalmayhem, to be completely honest here, what I know about writing dialog you can put on the back of a postage stamp but, having read the original posting, cazzie’s suggestions sounded well thought out and helpful. I’m surprised that you didn’t seem to find anything at all positive to take out of them.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@SoupDragon I was giving further explanation for what could’ve been a misunderstanding. Some of it could be helpful and I’ll consider what cazzie said when I go to write the 2nd draft.

cazzie's avatar

Your audience is only going to get to know your characters by what they say and do. Are we going to find out why they are in the foster home? What kind of tragedy befell the families? The baggage these young men are carrying around with them is going to affect how they react with people. Do they have a ‘back story’?

comicalmayhem's avatar

@cazzie Of course, but you can’t reveal that all in one scene of dialog. Well you can, but you shouldn’t.

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