Screenwriting and dialogue

Writing dialogue can sometimes be overwhelming – it’s not easy, but… It’s possible! After reading the next few tips on how to write dialogue in a script, you’ll improve your dialogue in no time. Writing dialogue is like any other job, skill, or sport – to perfect it you must constantly develop the craft.

Here we provide you with 7 essential tips to improve the dialogue within your script, let’s check them out:

1. Give each character a specific voice

Make each of your characters unique. Everyone in life has a unique way of speaking – different mannerisms, speed, muttering, stuttering, accents, and so forth. So remember to include this in your script! It will help you develop the character even further and also allow you to develop the characters further.

No one wants to hear a group of RP speaking characters, sat in a room. discussing the taste of their sandwich in the most formal manner possible… Do they?

By developing the character before writing your script you will know more about their background and who they are to drop mannerisms and way of speech to help create a much more believable dialogue and intricate character.

READ MORE: What is a film treatment and how do I create one?

2. Writing between the lines

Writing between the linesWriting between the lines is basically to avoid telling the truth directly – hovering around it so it’s a little obvious but not on the nose. This usually comes about when your character is in a difficult situation, which should be more often and not – the audience loves this!

This will allow the viewer to understand what the situation is indirectly making the next scene even more intriguing.

READ MORE: Why your script outline is essential: 3 simple steps

3. Make the viewer work for the information

Not physically!

By this we mean, stretch the information as much as possible to leave the viewer hanging onto the edge of their seats wanting more. It’s key to be delivering this dialogue in a breadcrumb format – elongating the tension but keeping the concentration.

A great example of this is “Fight Club” – check out the link to the example here through Studiobinder.

This allows the dialogue to show a little of their relationships but also adding a bit of backstory leading the viewer to want to know more.

READ MORE: 7 screenwriting tips for beginners

4. Don’t play it safe

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It’s one of the easiest things to do when writing, and we are all guilty of it. Sometimes we want to play it safe – have an average bit of dialogue or a scene that’s a bit “meh” – mainly for the fear of putting something different in there that may get criticised and affect our confidence.

But you MUST keep that “out of the box” dialogue in. It can make or break your entire scene – maybe even your story as a whole!

5. Your characters speech is extremely important

In your feature film script, you will at some point want to give your protagonist a speech. Don’t waste it. You want it to be captivating and you don’t really want more than one or two in your screenplay. You want it to be at the start or end of a scene, potentially to round up the whole movie. Make it intense, make it a rollercoaster, make it funny and make it enjoyable – keep the audience on the end of their seats.

6. Read your script out loud

Read your script out loud

No seriously, read it out loud. By reading the conversations out loud, you will pick up any bits of dialogue that don’t make sense or don’t flow well.

I find I write a lot of dialogue that sounds hilarious in my head, but after reading it back it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. So once you have finished the dialogue for the script or even a scene – read it back.

7. Include foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is where the screenwriter gives the reader/viewer a hint of the future. It’s a hint that something will happen later on to do with the scene. It can also be used where the protagonist is told something or shown something that makes them make a decision in the future that leaves them in a perilous or difficult situation – insanely interesting for the audience, not so much for your characters!

*There’s a great example in Die Hard – at the start of the movie – go on, check it out.

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