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Write: Using Dialogue to Bring Your Story to Life #ReadySetWrite

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Using Dialogue to Bring Your Story to Life #ReadySetWrite | KayeDacus.comDialogue is something that can make or break your story—how it’s written and how much you use.

One of the biggest complaints about the Star Wars films, especially the three prequels, is the stiff clunkiness of the dialogue. And in watching it, there are scenes in which the actors themselves, despite valiant efforts, show their discomfort with the lines they were given, unable to act through the terrible wording.

Conversely, there’s a writer like Joss Whedon. Back when Buffy the Vampire Slayer was on the air, a critic made the remark that the only reason the show was popular was due to Whedon’s ability to write snappy, witty dialogue for his characters, that no one actually watched it for the story. That’s a pretty good criticism to receive. And then Whedon wrote the episode “Hush,” which has only a couple of minutes of dialogue bookending a story in which everyone’s voices get stolen, yet it’s one of the strongest episodes in the entire series, even without dialogue. Of course, my favorite Whedon series for dialogue is Firefly and the follow up theatrical movie, Serenity.

Because we’re dealing with words on a page, not being spoken aloud by actors with the benefit of staging, lighting, props, and direction, we have to hit somewhere between these two screen writers—with excellent dialogue that keeps readers’ attention engaged while also building tension and moving the story forward without getting bogged down in exposition or being so awkwardly phrased as to be uncomfortable or unbelievable—all the while balancing it with dazzling narrative and action.

Just as with the previous post, I’m not going to try to rewrite, or even summarize more than what I’ve already said, everything I’ve already written about dialogue on the blog. So here are some helpful links:

“Say What?”—A Series About Dialogue (September–October 2008.)

Writing Contest Prep: Words from a Judge on DIALOGUE
Debunking Writing Myths: Always/Never Use “Said” Dialogue Tags
Internal Dialogue

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