Go On Your Own Quest — Week 5: Dialogue

August 14th, 2013 by

The 2013 version of The Quest starts Week 5 today. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by because you can Go On Your Own Quest by following the structure of The Quest to dig into screenwriting theory [Core – 8 weeks], figure out your story [Prep – 6 weeks], and write a first draft [Pages – 10 weeks]. It’s a 24-week immersion in the screenwriting process and you can do it here – for free!

Plus you can join The Black Board, the Official Online Writing Community of the Black List and Go Into The Story, another free resource to help keep you inspired and on target at you Go On Your Own Quest from FADE IN to FADE OUT on the first draft of your original screenplay.

This week, we are reflecting on the subject of Dialogue, mirroring the content the Questers are engaged with in Core V: Dialogue, working through six lectures I have written building off the 5th Essential Screenwriting Principle: Dialogue = Purpose. The lectures: Introduction to Dialogue, Finding Your Character’s Voice (Inward Journey), Finding Your Character’s Voice (Outward Expression), Subtext, What Is Not Said, and Realistic Dialogue [Idioms, Slang, Contractions, Declination].

For those of you who plan to Go On Your Own Quest, we began our week-long discussion on Dialogue Monday asking this question: Do you ‘hear’ your characters ‘talking’ to you? You can read that discussion here. Tuesday’s question: Does dialogue come easily or hard to you? That discussion is here. Today’s question:

* What tips do you have for writing subtext?

If you plan to participate in the Go On Your Own Quest challenge, you have 4 weeks before we move into the Prep part of the process. Time to start getting in touch with your characters and discovering each of their distinctive voices as reflected in dialogue.

If you’d like to access the same Core content as the writers participating in The Quest, I will be teaching Core V: Dialogue starting Monday, September 30. More information on that 1-week online class here.

Why wait? You can have immediate access to the content of all eight Core classes by signing up for The Core Package. This enables you to go through all of the Core lectures (48 total, each written by me), tips, techniques and optional writing exercises on a self-paced basis as well as take any of the 1-week classes as I offer them. Plus The Core Package offers a nearly 50% savings compared to if you took each Core class separately. For more information on this unique offer, go here.

Meanwhile I encourage you to head to comments to discuss today’s questions. And for a related discussion on The Black Board, check out these topics:

For more information on Go On Your Own Quest, go here.


Comment Archive

3 thoughts on “Go On Your Own Quest — Week 5: Dialogue

  1. Turambar says:

    Now that’s a tough one…every advice would be highly appreciated.

    I think that would be another great monthly series – Analyzing Subtext Scenes or so (since you’re analyzing scene description this month…which is another great lecture btw!!)

    Thanks for the help

  2. JoniB22 says:

    The first two things that hit me:

    1. If your dialogue sounds like something off a daytime soap opera, you’ve NOT mastered subtext.

    2. If your dialogue is like … like a snug, little Speedo leaving nothing to the imagination, you’ve NOT mastered subtext.

    But those tips fall more into the what-not-to-do category.

    Tips FOR writing subtext??

    An occasional trick I’ll use in drafting dialogue is to imagine a tape recorder in my character’s head, recording. And I get to listen to their exact, raw, true thoughts — that brutally honest, shoot from the hip stuff, and that “Oh how I wish I could muster the courage to say this if I wasn’t such a pussy” stuff. To name two spins on a character’s responsive thoughts. There are many more, of course.

    Then, having that knowledge of what he/she really, truly thinks and feels, I find that “something else” he or she can talk about, think about, feel .. and then say.

    So .. I guess one tip is: find that “something else”.

    The other trick is the ol’ “Elephant in the Room” — if you can figure out what that is, then you’ll know what to circumnavigate with the dialogue.

    Come to think of it, I like this second tip better. I fear the first — the inner tape recorder — might tempt some of you to consider using Voice Overs. And I loathe Voice Overs, so God forbid I lead you down that road!!

    1. lisakothari42 says:

      I love writing subtext – I think about the issue/theme/whatever that the characters are trying to discuss and then I embed it in a scene where they are talking about something completely different, but referencing back to what they are really thinking – as an example – using a cooking scene where the couple is discussing the missing ingredient in a recipe but what they’re really talking about is the missing ingredient in their relationship. Love this stuff!!

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