Screenwriting : Having Trouble Writing Dialogue - Should I Use A Screenwriter? by William Monteith

William Monteith

Having Trouble Writing Dialogue - Should I Use A Screenwriter?

I can bang out a really nice treatment, I can flesh my characters out, and I can craft a nice monologue or a tense argument. But for everything else in the script, I'm awful. I cannot pad out a film to be a normal pace because all of the in-between, the exposition, tends to trip me up. It's difficult for me to construct a cohesive story from beginning to end. My characters can't have a conversation that isn't leading up to a hard-hitting line or a big reveal, and it leads to some depressingly one-dimensional work. Should I hire a screenwriter to help me craft the script, or do I run the risk of losing the personal foundation of the piece?

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

William: If you want to be a serious writer it doesn't hurt to seek help in learning how to write dialogue. Might I suggest you start by reading "The Screenwriter's Bible" by David Trottier. It has a very nice section about dialogue, subtext and exposition. You may also want to consider reading some famous screenplays to get a better feel for movie conversations. Good luck young sir!

Kevin Dombrowski

Resign yourself to the fact that your first few scripts will suck. It's hard. Very hard. But it's a fact. When I finished my first script I couldn't hear it was awful. Then by my third script I saw it and that was okay because I knew I'd grown as a writer since then. There isn't a shortcut around the suck. Embrace the suck. Learn from it. Pour everything you can into the script. Then move on to the next one. Finish it and go back to the first and see what works and what doesn't. You're only going to get better at the things you're bad at by doing it. I'm sure you love your story, I love the story to my first script (the second was an adaptation of an IP I did for fun, so I wasn't invested), but this is the reality. For practice? Just write conversations. Come up with some context, and write a conversation. Try taking characters you think you know from a show or movie and write something in their voices talking about whatever. You know what dialog sounds like because you have conversations everyday. You listen to conversations everyday. You intuitively know how they go. Just put it down on the page.

Marvin Willson

Kevin is right. People think screenwriting is easy. I compare it to Golf. You suck when you start and the only way you get better is with practice. But you will never master it. Even the best writers have scripts that have not sold.

William Monteith

You guys have been helpful. I never thought of writing as something I had to culminate when, yeah, of course it is. Thank you!

William Martell

Most of the time problem expositional dialogue is really about not telling the story visually. After that, much of dialogue is about knowing your characters. And, what everyone else has said: Practice! Practice! (Same way you get to Carnegie Hall). My Script Tip today is on bumper sticker dialogue:

Gary Tucker

If you are working on a project that is personal to you and you don't have like deadlines or anything like that, take you time and flesh it out yourself. However, if you have a great idea and you want to start getting things in motion with pre production etc. etc. , then you might want to outsource it to a more experienced writer who can meet your deadlines.

Regina Lee

@William [EDIT: Monteith, the OP], is your goal/dream to be a screenwriter or, for example, to be a producer?

Regina Lee

@Owen, I was addressing the other William - William Monteith, the OP. My bad. I edited my original reply.

CJ Walley

William, try not to tell yourself that you are awful at something, or at least try not to believe it. Self doubt is toxic to creatives. Identifying your own weaknesses is the fundamental attitude behind growth. You're in a good place right now, you've found an area you can develop and hopefully master. For me, two things that have really helped me improve my dialogue have been; 1) Having my characters played by people I can vividly picture in my imagination. I cast actors, friends, celebs, reality tv stars etc in my head and that means the characters talk differently. 2) Establishing the beats of the scene before writing the dialogue (or through a redraft). Writing a story via dialogue is an easy trap to fall into. A scene needs to be a complex dynamic, driven by conflict, but also twisting around the complexities of the characters.

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