1. Macaberz

    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

    Nov 19, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Arnhem, The Netherlands

    Dialogue An enjoyable way to improve your dialogue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Macaberz, Mar 6, 2014.

    Watch movies.

    It's a little more nuanced than that, but that's the meat of it. Watch movies.

    Hold on fellow keyboard warriors! I am not talking about just about any movie. There are sure as hell some atrocious movies out there with horrendous, ear-splitting dialogue. I am talking about quality movies and quality TV-shows. Now what makes a good movie is going to be different for everyone, and I don't want to go into that discussion. However, I think we can all generally agree on whether a movie has a decently written script or not. If it has, then that's the sort of movie that might be able to help you get better at your dialogue.

    It struck when whilst I was watching the great American indie Mud (2012). Most of the time I watch English spoken movies without subtitles, but because of the heavy Arkansas accents I did put English subs on. And that really is the key to this little trick. By hearing and reading the dialogue, you can really easily pick up on it. I even learned a few new words this way, one of which I had been trying to hunt down for quite a while but didn't know how to write (the word was 'nous' if you're curious).

    Anyway. I really think it can be helpful to watch a good movie with subtitles/captions on. Think about it, 80% or so of an average movie script is dialogue. It's a script writer's job to produce quality dialogue. It has to be so good that actors, when preparing for the role, can know instantly how they're going to act that piece of dialogue.

    Still don't believe me? Here is a random bit of dialogue I took from that movie Mud. Now if this ain't good dialogue, I don't know what is.


    "It's a hell of a thing."

    "What's that?"

    "Boat in a tree. It's a hell of a thing."

    "Talking about our boat?"

    "Talking about my boat."

    "But we found it!"

    "Yea, you found it with me living in it. Possesion is nine-tenths of the law."
    peachalulu likes this.
  2. David K. Thomasson

    David K. Thomasson Senior Member

    Feb 26, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Lynchburg, Virginia
    That's moderately acceptable dialogue. Compare this clip starting at about the 2:40 mark.
  3. plothog

    plothog Contributor Contributor

    Jul 24, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Bear in my mind film dialogue and written dialogue can have differences, because they have been tailored for the medium. For example actors can use tone of voice to convey emotions, but in prose it's often considered better to use more emotional words in the dialogue than to simply write "said Jane angrily".
  4. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Coquille, Oregon
    that's a great scene, david!... one of the best in the film... and it demonstrates how little dialog is needed to set the tone of the scene and the characters and emotions of the characters... also, how film differs from written fiction, the latter needing much more than just great dialog to put a scene across...
  5. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
    Likes Received:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I've been watching Kojak - dated dialogue, yes - but damn cool!

Share This Page