Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Read your dialogue aloud

December 18th, 2008 by

This is truly one of the easiest things you can do to improve your dialogue writing: When you finish a draft of your script, read aloud each character’s dialogue, all of their sides back to back to back. Things to check for:

* Does each line work? Does it sound ‘real’ when you read it aloud?
* Repetitive lines
* Catch phrases a character might use
* The rhythm and pace of a specific character’s talking style
* Track the rhythm and pace of each side per what’s going on in each scene (i.e., they should match up)

Overall one big thing you’re checking to see if each of your characters has a distinguishable manner of talking.

It makes so much sense to do this, what’s so dumb about it? You. Standing in a room. Alone. Reading aloud. It’s awkward at first. But once you get used to it, it becomes a necessity with every script you read.

BTW, both Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter allow you to print out an individual character’s sides of dialogue consecutively.

This has been another installment of Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work.

4 thoughts on “Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Read your dialogue aloud

  1. E.C. Henry says:

    Great trick, Scott. Final Draft has an audio playback feature, but actually reading it myself, might actually be better as pertains to sounding real, and tracking the rhythm and pace.

    I’m so lucky to be getting advice from you. Regular doses of you is the closest thing I’ve found to “smartnum” pills.

    - E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

  2. OutOfContext says:

    It is a great thing to do. It also helps me with the action, because I tend to read quickly, especially if it’s the 50th time I’ve read the damn thing. Reading aloud helps me slow down and pay attention.
    The character reports are a great tool as well–I just wish that when you viewed them within Final Draft, you could change the text and have those changes be automatically made in the actual script.
    @E.C. You’ve actually been able to use the audio feature on Final Draft? I found it difficult and kind of scary sounding. Theater of the Uninflected.

  3. Tom says:

    Re: Final Draft, if you upgrade to a new PC/laptop and you get Vista, be aware that if you have Vista 64 bit (which is fast becoming the MS standard) v. Vista 32 bit Final Draft has some issues which include not being able to use the playback feature and even worse, you can’t convet .fdr to PDFs! Fortunately, I still have a copy of FD on the family’s PC so I can make conversions. As far as the playback feature, my experience was similar to OOC’s – rough and somewhat creepy.

  4. Scott says:

    Thanks, Tom, for that update. I have zero technology insight, so any time anybody can offer advice on that front, please do.

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Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Read your dialogue aloud

December 18th, 2008 by

This is truly one of the easiest things you can do to improve your dialogue writing: When you finish a draft of your script, read aloud each character’s dialogue, all of their sides back to back to back. Things to check for:

* Does each line work? Does it sound ‘real’ when you read it aloud?
* Repetitive lines
* Catch phrases a character might use
* The rhythm and pace of a specific character’s talking style
* Track the rhythm and pace of each side per what’s going on in each scene (i.e., they should match up)

Overall one big thing you’re checking to see if each of your characters has a distinguishable manner of talking.

It makes so much sense to do this, what’s so dumb about it? You. Standing in a room. Alone. Reading aloud. It’s awkward at first. But once you get used to it, it becomes a necessity with every script you read.

BTW, both Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter allow you to print out an individual character’s sides of dialogue consecutively.

This has been another installment of Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work.

4 thoughts on “Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Read your dialogue aloud

  1. E.C. Henry says:

    Great trick, Scott. Final Draft has an audio playback feature, but actually reading it myself, might actually be better as pertains to sounding real, and tracking the rhythm and pace.

    I’m so lucky to be getting advice from you. Regular doses of you is the closest thing I’ve found to “smartnum” pills.

    - E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

  2. OutOfContext says:

    It is a great thing to do. It also helps me with the action, because I tend to read quickly, especially if it’s the 50th time I’ve read the damn thing. Reading aloud helps me slow down and pay attention.
    The character reports are a great tool as well–I just wish that when you viewed them within Final Draft, you could change the text and have those changes be automatically made in the actual script.
    @E.C. You’ve actually been able to use the audio feature on Final Draft? I found it difficult and kind of scary sounding. Theater of the Uninflected.

  3. Tom says:

    Re: Final Draft, if you upgrade to a new PC/laptop and you get Vista, be aware that if you have Vista 64 bit (which is fast becoming the MS standard) v. Vista 32 bit Final Draft has some issues which include not being able to use the playback feature and even worse, you can’t convet .fdr to PDFs! Fortunately, I still have a copy of FD on the family’s PC so I can make conversions. As far as the playback feature, my experience was similar to OOC’s – rough and somewhat creepy.

  4. Scott says:

    Thanks, Tom, for that update. I have zero technology insight, so any time anybody can offer advice on that front, please do.

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