The Key to Writing Freakishly Good Dialogue | Video Essay | Summary and Q&A

April 21, 2023
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The Key to Writing Freakishly Good Dialogue | Video Essay


Dialogue is a crucial tool for screenwriters to communicate information within scenes, but it must be done effectively and through the filter of the characters' perspectives.

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Key Insights

  • 📚 Scenes are crucial in screenplays for communicating information within the confines of a specific location and timeline. Dialogues play a key role in conveying factual, emotional, and cultural information about characters and their world.
  • 🎭 Using dialogue as a tool for communicating information within scenes requires considering the character's filter and their way of communicating in a given situation.
  • 🔮 Before tackling a dialogue scene, it is important to make a list of all the information that needs to be communicated and ensure that the dialogue reflects the characters' priorities and goals at that point in the story.
  • 💬 Dialogue scenes can feel robotic and lacking in depth if the writer forgets to incorporate the characters' filters and priorities, leading to unrealistic conversations.
  • 🔦 Subtext can be used to add layers to dialogue scenes by using allegories, physical representations (props), and code language to convey deeper meanings and emotions.
  • 🌟 Creating conflict within dialogue scenes helps reveal more about the characters and can be done through disagreements, conflicting priorities, and collisions with the plot.
  • 🎭 Dialogue scenes can be enhanced by incorporating additional information and new ideas through the "yes, and" approach, where each response builds upon the previous one, keeping the conversation dynamic and engaging.
  • 💡 Varying the rhythm and structure of dialogue scenes can add interest and impact, and transitioning from one rhythm to another can create a sense of change and significance.
  • 🎥 Analysis and critique of dialogue scenes can provide valuable insights and help develop new writing frameworks and strategies to improve one's craft.


I don't write books sorry sorry I've never written a story that was not a screenplay so when I say dialogue I'm exclusively referring to the words that come out of character's mouths I'm not going into said versus exclaimed or paragraph breaks because none of that stuff exists in my trade but for the pros folk there's still huge overlap so I'd enco... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How does the author suggest incorporating exposition into a dialogue scene?

The author suggests that if a character device can organically disclose exposition, it is not a problem. However, writers may find themselves needing to disclose information through dialogue scenes, and this can be done strategically by considering the character's filter and finding ways to communicate information through their words and actions.

Q: What is the author's approach to incorporating information into dialogue scenes?

The author suggests listing off all the information that a scene needs to communicate, then thinking about how each character in the scene would naturally communicate that information based on their perspectives and priorities. This helps ensure that the dialogue feels authentic and true to the characters.

Q: How can writers make dialogue scenes more engaging and dynamic?

The author suggests avoiding "alley-oop lines," which are lines that solely exist to facilitate the next line of dialogue. Instead, writers should focus on creating conflict within dialogue scenes by putting characters in situations where they can express their disagreements or reveal information through their words and actions. Adding additional elements, such as props or location, can also make dialogue scenes more dynamic.

Q: What is the role of subtext in dialogue scenes?

Subtext can add depth to dialogue scenes by allowing characters to communicate their true feelings or thoughts indirectly. By using props or discussing topics that have deeper meaning, characters can engage in subtextual communication that adds layers to the dialogue and keeps the audience actively decoding the text.

"Mastering Dialogue in Screenwriting: Communicating Information within Scenes" explores the importance of dialogue in conveying information in screenplays and offers tips for crafting effective and authentic dialogue. The author emphasizes the need to consider the characters' perspectives and priorities when incorporating exposition and suggests creating conflict and engaging elements within dialogue scenes to make them more dynamic. Subtext is also highlighted as a useful tool for adding depth and layers to dialogue.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Dialogue is the writer's tool for communicating information in a screenplay, including factual, emotional, and cultural information.

  • Scenes in a screenplay must effectively communicate information, as anything outside of a scene is not communicated at all.

  • Writers must consider the filter of each character when crafting dialogue, ensuring that information is communicated in a way that is true to their perspective.

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