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Notes from a Screenreader: Dialogorrhea

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Photo via Go Into the Story.

There are scripts about people doing things and there are scripts about people talking about things.

One of them has a much better chance of making it past the first round of readers in a competition.

  • Visualize the beat. What is the visual information in the scene? Do your characters talk about how poor they are, or do they steal food from a neighbor, creating conflict that acts as an escalation?
  • Put the bear in the room and lock all the doors. Is your protagonist likely to engage in conversations about this situation, reflect on the past in flashbacks…or start fighting for her life? A bear in the room dispenses with the necessity for lots of explaining.
  • Talk is easy. Actions are hard. They require more thought, more talent, more skill to devise. Action depends on decisive characters, even if the decisions are hasty and ill-advised.

Dialogue crutches weak scenes along, sucking down pacing and conflict like a storm drain. Information is never as dramatic as action.

ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

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