When I decide to write a screenplay, or want to be inspired, I tend to watch movies and television shows that have some great writing. Regardless of the genre I’m writing, I watch a variety of genres, mostly because I am trying to find the voice of what I wish to write. Some of my favorite writers are Aaron Sorkin, Ted Griffth, David Mamet, Robert Towne, Steven Moffat and a few others.
Some complaints that I hear from either my writing or other people’s scripts is that “people don’t speak that way.” Given that fact that most people abbreviate small words because they ‘can’t even’ form the syllables for baby and have to say ‘bae’. There is a special place in hell for people like that.
Obviously, if anyone has taken the time to studying writing prior to 2005, one would understand the main concept of writing dialogue: write the way you wish for your characters to speak. With many films and series today, people believe that realism is the key to better writing. Not true. Many times, writing is a way to filter your characters through when you have a limited allotment of time.
Realism doesn’t create a good or believable character. It is the style of ones writing. Many actors will tell you that they want the best speeches or lines that make them sound better than they truly are. Every writer has a different style of dialogue. Kevin Smith once said that you write a world that you want characters to converse in. In his world, people talk in monologues.
I was a child of the seventies and eighties, but I grew up watching films of the thirties and forties. This brought me to the exciting world of repartee. I think that style is a lost art and it gives characters to talk in a faster fashion with each line written better than the last. The last movie that I saw that had attempted this style was Ocean’s Eleven. Listen to the conversation between George Clooney and Julia Roberts and it has very much a repartee feel to it.
Now, let’s be honest, Julia Roberts did not have the complete knack for working in repartee but Clooney was able to make it work. The best cinematic example of this would be It Happened One Night and His Girl Friday. These movies are cinematic gold and should be watched by anyone studying screenwriting or even just love dialogue. Both those movies are on my inspirational list.
Write in your own style. Find the style you wish people in your world would converse. For me, it is very much in a sarcastic and heavily sub textual world. Granted that is a bit difficult when you are writing a world but it needs to have your voice. It needs to say something about anything but in the voice that would exist in your world. You can tell the same story as everyone else, but a talented one has a voice. This is where your homework should begin.