Dialogue Tips

Dialogue is an important aspect of film ever since the silent era ended. Like everything in film, you can develop your own style of dialogue. I often tried to breakdown what sounds good to my ear. Why at times I’m engrossed in what characters are saying? Is there some sort of structure to this? How can I invoke a similar response?

These questions often puzzled me. One day I sat down and began watching a marathon of House M.D, one of my favorite shows of all time. The dialogue in that particular show is very sharp, and well crafted in my opinion. I then started to analyze why the dialogue structure was so effective on me. I believe I found the answer to the questions I previously stated. The topics the characters are conversing about and how they go about talking about said topics are major factors in designing this form of dialogue. You can implement this structure as well. So what is the structure? Here is the breakdown:

  • Character A Start with personal question
  • Character B ignores it, talks about current situation
  • Character A engages, then returns to personal question
  • Character B Ignores, talks about situation again
  • Character A engages, then takes stance on personal question (often giving his/hers hypothesis)
  • Character B comes to conclusion about current situation, then answer personal question or disregards it sarcastically

House M.D: Lines in the Sand

Another format is where a character is telling a story, and another character asks for clarification on a detail or asks a question in regards to the story before allowing him to continue.

Try to breakdown the structure of some of your favorite dialogue scenes and see if you can come up wirh a formula that you can utilize in your own projects.

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