The dialogue that moves us

Dialogue

Let’s deepen this dialogue, shall we?

By and large when people suggest I ‘expand upon a scene’ they are asking for more dialogue (as opposed to more action or suspense). It seems to be trademark for me to have key points in the story in my head that I am dying to get to, sometimes at the expense of all that talking and character development.

So this long weekend (YAY MAY 2-4!) I am going to go back into some old scenes in Casebooks 1 thru 3 and expand on the dialogue, hopefully in a positive way.

Needing inspiration of course, I will start my morning with reading some scenes known for their moving dialogue; I’m thinking about:

  1. the back-and-forth between Ophelia and Hamlet in Act 3, Scene 1, when their fathers are hiding behind a tapestry listening in.
  2. the scene in Pride and Prejudice when Lady Catherine de Bourge confronts Lizzie at her parents’ home is some great dialogue.
  3. there is a scene in Firefly: Serenity with the Operative, Captain Mal and Inara in the Temple that I’ve always found super-clever but I couldn’t find a link to post to. If you get a chance, watch it, as I will today.
  4. The scene with Watson and Holmes in the new BBC series in the back of the cab when Holmes gets offended when Watson sniffs and says “The Police don’t consult amateurs” is a brilliantly written little piece of dialogue that I’ve watched over and over again.
  5. I could post any scene from the first three years of the West Wing and you’d get a great example of dialogue to aspire to, but I picked one of the first that really made me laugh (from Season 1, Episode 3):

Josh Lyman: You know what, C.J.? I really think I’m the best judge of what I mean, you paranoid Berkeley shiksa feminista… Wow, that was way too far.
C.J. Cregg: No, no. Well, I’ve got a staff meeting to go to and so do you, you elitist, Harvard, fascist, missed-the-dean’s-list-two-semesters-in-a-row Yankee jackass.
Josh Lyman: Feel better getting that off your chest there, C.J.?
C.J. Cregg: I’m a whole new woman.

And then there is all the internet has to offer us:

Do you guys have any other suggestions? I’m getting some great bubbling ideas from all this already, but I could always use more inspiration!

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7 thoughts on “The dialogue that moves us

  1. I would watch the beginning of the movie (was a play first) ‘Sleuth’ with Michael Caine and Jude Law for something keen and tasty. I was very impressed, no matter where the rest of the play/movie goes. totally engaging and edgy.

  2. So I was at this writers symposium in Alaska, and there was a whole workshop devoted to dialogue, led by the scriptwriter who did the movies 8 Mile and The Fighter.
    Lots of great points.
    All agreed we don’t read the way we speak, and that communication is about more than words, it includes gestures and body language, so dialogue needs to be more than a blow-by-blow account of a conversation.
    Iit’s important to hear your character’s voice. A suggestion was to write a page off to the side describing a character, how they dress, how they react, just to get a good picture in your head before you launch into a passage of dialogue.
    There was also lots of talk about detective novels as being a great source of good dialogue, Elmore Leonard in particular.
    Scott the screenwriter suggests getting your hands on the script of a movie thay includes dialogue you like and following along as you watch the movie. He suggesting the opening scene of The Social Network by Aron Sorkin as a great example of dialogue.
    It was also mentioned that readers often approach dialogue as a bit of a break, as easier to readthan other parts of a work, so you shouldn’t make them do too much heavy lifting in terms of plot and other complicated things.
    I could add more later if you’re interested, I took bags of notes.

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