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The Top 10 Dialogue Mistakes Writers Make

Hosted by Marilyn R. Atlas and Elizabeth Lopez

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Marilyn R. Atlas and Elizabeth Lopez

Webinar hosted by: Marilyn R. Atlas and Elizabeth Lopez

Producer and Manager | VP of Literary Development at Marilyn Atlas Management

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Webinar Summary

Learn directly from dynamo team, Producer and Manager Marilyn R. Atlas, who produced Echoes, A Certain Desire, Real Women Have Curves (HBO) and The Choking Game (Lifetime) and her associate Elizabeth Lopez, VP of Literary Development who together have pitched, shaped, and sold 6 books by new novelists, as well as 2 pilots for ABC & ABC Family!

Filmed entertainment is visual, and though everyone loves a catchy line, it’s really an exceptional exchange framed by a character’s choice of action that we remember. Dialogue is one of the clearest ways of exploring your character’s agenda, frame of mind, and emotional state. The best dialogue is able to do even more (and succinctly, sometimes in just a few lines): It lets us know something about the overall theme of your script, as well as unresolved areas ripe for conflict between your protagonist and the other characters: friend, frenemy, and foe…

In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, hosts Marilyn Atlas and Elizabeth Lopez will walk you what professional dialogue looks and sounds like. They will then guide you through the top 10 biggest dialogue mistakes they see novices and sometimes even experienced writers make. These can happen when writers are stuffing their scenes with overlong conversations as a way of exhaustively framing the characters’ POVs, or as a misguided bid to amp up tension. Death by rambling monologue or page-long scene description is an unkind thing to wish on a reader!

You will leave the webinar knowing:

  • The top 10 most common dialogue mistakes writers make.
  • How to use dialogue to explore your character’s agenda.
  • How to use dialogue to convey your theme.
  • How to properly use subtext in your writing.
  • How to create differentiated, identifiable characters in your script.

Your hosts Marilyn R. Atlas and Elizabeth Lopez have a screenwriting guide called Dating Your Character coming out in the Fall by Stairway Press. Marilyn is a literary/talent manager who has produced Echoes, A Certain Desire, and Real Women Have Curves for HBO, and last year’s The Choking Game for Lifetime based on a YA book. Together with her associate Elizabeth, she has pitched, shaped, and sold 6 books by new novelists, including The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole, Hungry Woman in Paris, The Ave Maria Bed & Breakfast, On the Move, and Chasing the Jaguar. They’ve also sold two mini-series, the Untitled Posse Pilot to ABC Family, and The Fabulous Fernandez Sisters Pilot to ABC, among others. Their clients have appeared in shows such as Star Trek, Fringe, Pretty Little Liars, 90210, Revenge, Hart of Dixie, NCIS:LA, True Blood, Dexter, Chuck, Castle, and Criminal Minds. In addition, her clients have worked on feature films such as Holes and Transformers. Marilyn herself has been in development on pilots for Showtime and ABC Family.


What You Will Learn:

We’ll do a few exercises to give you practice putting yourself in the mindset of your character.

  • Incorporating back story
  • Balancing mood and the reactions caused by the scene itself
  • Prioritizing goals – inner and outer


Once you’re warmed up, we’ll focus on subtext, which is what a conversation is really about under the surface. Characters are ostensibly talking about A, but are really dancing around B, and maybe C.

  • How to use vague, but emotionally resonant means of expression
  • How to pay attention to and guide the dramatic beats within the scene
  • How to button the scene so that it ends on a high or much lower low than how it began…

We’ll conclude with tips on how to differentiate the way each of your characters sounds and functions, so your script is peopled by clearly identifiable characters with their own goals and attitudes.

  • You’ll look at vocabulary, slang, “in the know” words, accents, rhythms
  • You’ll be aware of how direct/indirect, how aggressive/passive each character operates
  • You’ll make sure that you’re consistent in presenting characters as coming from a habituated practice of learned success/failure…

We will provide a handout, too, as a helpful takeaway to keep you on track.

Who Should Attend?

  • More advanced writers who have written 2 or more scripts/plays.
  • Writers who may have been optioned, but not sold.
  • Writers who have demonstrated a dedication to their craft and want to continue to improve, specifically by tethering character dialogue to behavior.
  • Writers who are hoping to attach a particular A-list actor and are writing the lead role expressly for him.
  • Any writer who wants to brush up on their dialogue skills.

About The Webinar Format:

Webinars take place in Los Angeles time. They are done online using a designated software program from Stage 32. You can participate from the comfort of your own home and you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend the live webinar, you can still participate! The webinar will be recorded and you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year. More information can be found below.

About Your Hosts Marilyn Atlas and Elizabeth Lopez:

An award-winning producer and personal manager of actors and writers, Marilyn R. Atlas is equally at home in the worlds of film, television, and live theater. Among her credits as film producer are Real Women Have Curves for HBO, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, A Certain Desire, starring Sam Waterston, and Echoes, which won the Gold Award at the Texas International Film Festival. In addition to producing a variety of programming for the cable/ pay TV market, Marilyn served as a production consultant on the film Call Me. She was also involved as a producer in the development of the MOW Nightwalker and Playing for Keeps.

Her clients have appeared in shows such as Star Trek, Fringe, Pretty Little Liars, 90210, Revenge, Hart of Dixie, NCIS:LA, True Blood, Dexter, Chuck, Castle, and Criminal Minds. In addition, her clients have worked on feature films such as Holes and Transformers. Marilyn herself has been in development on pilots for Showtime and ABC Family.

In live theater, Marilyn co-produced the West Coast premiere of the musical God Bless You Mr. Rosewater byAshman and Menken (the writers of both Enchanted and Tangled). She also co-produced the award-winning play To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, which was made into a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Peter Gallagher. Her additional credits as a producer in live theater include Today’s Special and As I Sing.

Marilyn is a member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. She has spoken at their Writers’ and Producers’ retreats, the DGA-sponsored LA Asian Film Festival, as well as various other symposia for the Sherman Oaks Experimental College. She is a founding member of Women in Film’s Luminas Committee, which supports the portrayal of women in non-stereotypical roles in film and television. She has spoken at events such as The San Francisco Writers Conference, the Santa Fe Screenwriters Conference and Richard Krevolin’s USC Screenwriting Retreat. Marilyn has also taught several actor workshops. Additionally, she was a guest lecturer in the USC Writing Program, where she also teaches a class every year on creating three-dimensional, non-stereotypical characters. She has spoken at the Texas Bar Association and was a guest lecturer at Whittier Law School.

In addition to Marilyn’s film/TV credits, she has sold (first time) novels Chasing the Jaguar to HarperCollins, Hungry Woman in Paris to Grand Central Publishing, Ave Maria Bed & Breakfast to Hachette Publishing, and Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole to Source Books.

Recently, Marilyn has been developing the Brides’ March for Lifetime Television as well as a limited television series. She previously produced the musical version of Real Women Have Curves in Los Angeles in 2009 and is involved in the current development of Real Women Have Curves for 2015. In the fall of 2012 she co-produced the play Detained in the Desert at the Guadeloupe Theater in San Antonio. As of late, her Lifetime movie The Choking Game based on the YA book by Diana Lopez aired in summer 2014. She is also featured in the book Write Now! from Penguin/Tarcher. She was also recently a speaker at the International Women’s Writer Festival in Italy in 2014.

Elizabeth Lopez attended Vassar College, majoring in English Literature. She started her Hollywood career as a story analyst for talent managers and production companies, including Vincent Cirrincione & Associates and The Little Company. As VP of Literary Development at Marilyn Atlas Management, she has been managing writing talent. She was a screenwriting fellow of the L.A. Latino Film Festival and has had several articles published online and in print for entertainment-oriented magazines such as Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips. She is the co-author of a relationship-based, screenwriting guide called Dating Your Character, about an organic approach to character creation for Stairway Press’s Summer 2015 catalog.

About Your Instructor

An award-winning producer and personal manager of actors and writers, Marilyn R. Atlas is equally at home in the worlds of film, television, and live theater. Among her credits as film producer are Real Women Have Curves for HBO, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, A Certain Desire, starring Sam Waterston, and Echoes, which won the Gold Award at the Texas International Film Festival. In addition to producing a variety of programming for the cable/ pay TV market, Marilyn served as a production consultant on the film Call Me. She was also involved as a producer in the development of the MOW Nightwalker and Playing for Keeps.

Her clients have appeared in shows such as Star Trek, Fringe, Pretty Little Liars, 90210, Revenge, Hart of Dixie, NCIS:LA, True Blood, Dexter, Chuck, Castle, and Criminal Minds. In addition, her clients have worked on feature films such as Holes and Transformers. Marilyn herself has been in development on pilots for Showtime and ABC Family.

In live theater, Marilyn co-produced the West Coast premiere of the musical God Bless You Mr. Rosewater byAshman and Menken (the writers of both Enchanted and Tangled). She also co-produced the award-winning play To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, which was made into a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Peter Gallagher. Her additional credits as a producer in live theater include Today’s Special and As I Sing.

Marilyn is a member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. She has spoken at their Writers’ and Producers’ retreats, the DGA-sponsored LA Asian Film Festival, as well as various other symposia for the Sherman Oaks Experimental College. She is a founding member of Women in Film’s Luminas Committee, which supports the portrayal of women in non-stereotypical roles in film and television. She has spoken at events such as The San Francisco Writers Conference, the Santa Fe Screenwriters Conference and Richard Krevolin’s USC Screenwriting Retreat. Marilyn has also taught several actor workshops. Additionally, she was a guest lecturer in the USC Writing Program, where she also teaches a class every year on creating three-dimensional, non-stereotypical characters. She has spoken at the Texas Bar Association and was a guest lecturer at Whittier Law School.

In addition to Marilyn’s film/TV credits, she has sold (first time) novels Chasing the Jaguar to HarperCollins, Hungry Woman in Paris to Grand Central Publishing, Ave Maria Bed & Breakfast to Hachette Publishing, and Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole to Source Books.

Recently, Marilyn has been developing the Brides’ March for Lifetime Television as well as a limited television series. She previously produced the musical version of Real Women Have Curves in Los Angeles in 2009 and is involved in the current development of Real Women Have Curves for 2015. In the fall of 2012 she co-produced the play Detained in the Desert at the Guadeloupe Theater in San Antonio. As of late, her Lifetime movie The Choking Game based on the YA book by Diana Lopez aired in summer 2014. She is also featured in the book Write Now! from Penguin/Tarcher. She was also recently a speaker at the International Women’s Writer Festival in Italy in 2014.

Elizabeth Lopez attended Vassar College, majoring in English Literature. She started her Hollywood career as a story analyst for talent managers and production companies, including Vincent Cirrincione & Associates and The Little Company. As VP of Literary Development at Marilyn Atlas Management, she has been managing writing talent. She was a screenwriting fellow of the L.A. Latino Film Festival and has had several articles published online and in print for entertainment-oriented magazines such as Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips. She is the co-author of a relationship-based, screenwriting guide called Dating Your Character, about an organic approach to character creation for Stairway Press’s Summer 2015 catalog.

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a webinar? 
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A. 

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year! 

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

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