One of the most difficult skills for a writer is dialog.
Clearly, dialog is not the presentation of words in the
manner we speak them. Few of us in 'conversation' use
complete sentences. Yet the sentence fragments we normally
communicate with are certainly not acceptable as written
On the other hand, dialog that approaches prose sounds like a
Find that fine line between the way we speak and the way
we write to complete a DIALOG Exercise using a minimum of
other written material.
300 words or less, write a scene between two characters.
When the scene ends we should know the central conflict
between these two, and a great deal about their personalities.
I am going to get some help doing this summary, we're all met
Harry and Sally, might even know about "when" they met.
INT CLASSROOM WITH TABLES AND CHAIRS - DAY
Tell me again, why are we doing this?
Because of the EXERCISE - the DIALOG thing.
But that's over, they only last
for a week and then . . .
(pausing to remember)
Sure, it's Lani that does it. She
announces the change. And it's
gonna happen tomorrow.
All the more reason to wrap it up,
summarize the EXERCISE.
Oh, please . . . Can we just move
on without all this, I mean, who
care were we been? I want to know
what's next! Where we're going.
Well you helped, by doing this
little scene, you helped make my
Really? You've made a point?
We have made the point.
(pointing to a stack
Those were the subs from the week
and those . . .
(holds up a couple of
sheets from a larger
Are the CRITS.
Big deal, I saw 'em as they came
in, I wrote some of them.
Remember the instructions?
TITLE OVER: 300 words or less, write a scene between two
characters. When the scene ends we should know the central
conflict between these two, and a great deal about their
How you do that?
(pointing to the
writing on screen)
Make all that print out on the
Well, it's a script, I can do
almost anything I want with a
THAT is your point?
Sort of. The only way anything
happens in a script is if an actor
does it, or says it -
And the point would be -
DIALOG! I thought it would be
obvious. In a script the
screenwriter gets about 120 pages
to say everything! FADE IN,
Beginning, Middle, Ending, FADE
OUT and credits - 120 pages.
Harry, you're about to put me to
sleep here . . .
Well, look at it. . . look at
Okay! . . .
(picks up pages)
. . . What for?
You're looking at two pages there,
guess how many words.
I gotta count this one too?
No, I'll tell you what . . . We'll
use some more of that movie Magic.
TITLE OVER: WORD COUNT - 341 (continuing)
Oh, that's cool. Every word we say
adds to the total?
Those two pages,
(pointing to the
pages in her hand)
They total 312 words -
That's about 20,000 words in a
complete screenplay - start to
Oh, I see what you mean. A page of
prose can be 800 words, but a page
of script is only 150.
Were not limited in prose, you can
write until your story's told.
But you said 120 pages?
For a Script! At a page a minute,
that's a two hour script.
Can't be longer?
If it's gonna sell? 90 to 120
minutes seems to be the time
So what's this got to do with
That WAS the EXERCISE - 300
words - try to define two
characters and a story conflict
Oh, I see. And how'd we do.
Mind you, this is just my opinion,
but almost everyone on the list
has at this point participated.
And it has been fun.
(stacks all the
But, it is time to stick our heads
out the window and yell - "NEXT"
EXT JUST OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM - DAY
(sticking her head )
(out the window)
(popping his head out
next to hers)
Thanks everyone. Good job.
Word count remains as scene fades.
TITLE OVER: WORD COUNT - 693
This has been fun - both exercises - Lani will announce the "next"
If you've got those last couple of Crits to get it in - do it now.