Daily Dialogue — June 29, 2015

June 29th, 2015 by

DAVID: If Joshua tricks them into launching an attack it’ll be your fault.
FALKEN: My fault? The whole point was to find a way to practice nuclear war without destroying ourselves, to get the computers to learn from mistakes we couldn’t afford to make. Except, that I never could get Joshua to learn the most important lesson.
DAVID: What’s that?
FALKEN: Futility. That there’s a time when you should just give up.
JENNIFER: What kind of a lesson is that?
FALKEN: Did you ever play tic-tac-toe?
JENNIFER: Yeah, of course.
FALKEN: But you don’t any more.
JENNIFER: Because it’s a boring game. It’s always a tie.
FALKEN: Exactly. There’s no way to win. The game itself is pointless. But back at the war room, they believe you can win a nuclear war, that there can be acceptable losses.
DAVID: So you gave up? Decided to play dead?
FALKEN: For security reasons they graciously arranged my death. (Turning to the movie screen.) Did you know that no land animal with a body weight of over 55 pounds survived that age? Extinction is part of the natural order.
DAVID: Bullshit. (Turns off projector.) If we’re extinguished, there’s nothing natural about that. It’s just stupid.
FALKEN: Look, it’s all right. I’ve planned ahead. We’re just three miles from a primary target. A millisecond of brilliant light and we’re vaporized. Much more fortunate than the millions who’ll wander sightless through the smoldering aftermath. We’ll be spared the horror of survival.
JENNIFER: I’m only seventeen years old. I’m not ready to die, yet.
DAVID: You won’t make a simple phone call?
JENNIFER: If the real Joshua was still alive—your Joshua—you’d do it, wouldn’t you?
FALKEN: Look, we might gain a few years, perhaps time enough for you to have a son and watch him die. But humanity, planning it’s own destruction—that a phone call won’t stop.
DAVID: This is unreal. You don’t care about death because you’re already dead.

War Games (1983), written by Lawrence Lasker, Walter F. Parkes,

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Quitting. Today’s suggestion by Will King.

Trivia: What got the teens into trouble was David’s computer program that dialed phone numbers methodically searching for open modem connections, which he would then try to exploit (eventually dialing in to WOPR). This was already a known hacking method at the time, but this movie gave it a name that has stuck ever since: war dialing. When dial-up modems were replaced by wi-fi connections, the term was modified to war driving, meaning to drive around in a vehicle searching for open wi-fi connections.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Will: “This is an example of the ultimate in quitting: resignation. Staging this scene with Falken watching a movie about dinosaurs (The Land That Time Forgot) and his knowledge about their extinction shows that Falken has already quit trying to change what he sees as inevitable and is just awaiting the end of the world. He seems almost pleased with himself that he’s selected a home ‘just three miles from a primary target.’

The name ‘Joshua’ used in this scene refers to two entities. In Falken’s first line it’s his pet name for the war gaming WOPR military computer. But ‘Joshua’ is also the name of his deceased son, and it is that son that Jennifer uses to try to appeal to Falken to get him to snap out of his malaise, which he eventually does.”

Daily Dialogue — June 28, 2015

June 28th, 2015 by

DAWES SR: Well, do you have anything to say, Banks?
BANKS: Well sir, they do say that…when there’s nothing to say, all you can say–

He pulls two coins from his pocket.

DAWES SR: Confound it, Banks, I said, do you have anything to say?
BANKS: (Laughs) Just one word, sir.
BANKS: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Mary Poppins (1964), screenplay by Bill Walsh, Don DaGradi, book by P.L. Travers

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Memorable 1-Word Lines. Today’s suggestion by Will King.

Trivia: The chorus performing as the animated Pearly Band during “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was comprised of songwriter Richard M. Sherman, vocal coach J. Pat O’Malley and Julie Andrews.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Will: “A most controversial word. Entire debates raged in the 1960s about whether “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was the longest word in the English language, or whether it was even a word at all.”

Daily Dialogue theme next week: Quitting

June 27th, 2015 by

The Daily Dialogue theme for next week: Quitting.

Bridget Jones Diary (2001)

How many different ways have movies managed to say, “I quit”? Let’s see if we can surface 7 great examples for this week’s series.

Take part in the grand Daily Dialogue tradition — 2,500+ consecutive days and counting! How about your suggestion for this week’s theme?

The usual drill:

* Copy/paste dialogue from IMDb Quotes or some other transcript source.

* Copy/paste the URL of an accompanying video from YouTube or some other video source.

I’d also ask you to think about why the dialogue is notable. Is there anything about the dialogue which provides some takeaway related to the craft of writing? If so, feel free to lay that wisdom on us.

Our upcoming schedule of Daily Dialogue topics:

July 6-July 12: Subtext
July 13-July 19: Survival
July 20-July 26: Last Line
July 27-August 2: Madness
August 3-August 9: Call to Adventure
August 10-August 16: Adultery
August 17-August 23: Callback
August 24-August 30: Hysterics
August 31-September 6: Monologue
September 7-September 13: Betrayal
September 14-September 20: Minimum Words, Maximum Impact
September 21-September 27: Depression
September 28-October 4: Opening Line
October 5-October 11: Rivalry
October 12-October 18: Cross Dressing

If you have some Daily Dialogue themes to add to the roster, be my guest to post in comments. But be sure to post your ideas for this week’s theme: Quitting.

Thanks to all you loyal Daily Dialoguers! You rock!

Daily Dialogue — June 27, 2015

June 27th, 2015 by

Det. Frank Drebin searches a drawer
Frank: Bingo!

Pulls out a Bingo card.

The Naked Gun: From the Files of the Police Squad! (1988), written by Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Pat Proft

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Memorable 1-Word Lines. Today’s suggestion by Ricardo Bravo.

Trivia: This movie is a big-screen version of the cult cop spoof series Police Squad! (1982). The title was changed to avoid confusion with the Police Academy series of films, which were also co-created by Pat Proft. David Zucker remembers that they were given a list of about 20 potential titles, and they chose ‘The Naked Gun’ because it ‘promised so much more than it could possibly deliver’.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Ricardo: ” In a single word, and the subsequent visual punchline, the movie perfectly parodies countless police dramas, investigative procedures and catch phrases. Flawless.”

Daily Dialogue — June 26, 2015

June 26th, 2015 by

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

The Graduate (1967), screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, based on the novel by Charles Webb

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Memorable 1-Word Lines. Today’s suggestion by Waka.

Trivia: None of the older characters has their first name identified in the film; only the younger characters of Benjamin, Elaine and Carl do, increasing the sense of a generation gap.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Waka: “Tons of subtext in just one word. On the surface, Mr. McGuire is giving Benjamin some helpful career advice. Underneath, though, he unwittingly describes 1) the society in which he lives 2) what Benjamin fears he will metaphorically become.”

Daily Dialogue — June 25, 2015

June 25th, 2015 by


Rocky (1976), written by Sylvester Stallone

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Memorable 1-Word Lines. Today’s suggestion by David Proenza.

Trivia: Although Sylvester Stallone famously wrote the first draft of the script in 3 days, it went through nine sizable rewrites before it was purchased by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff. Originally, Stallone’s much darker script depicted Mickey (Burgess Meredith) as a bitter old racist, and the film ended with Rocky throwing the fight after realizing he did not want to be part of the professional boxing world.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by David: “The ultimate underdog did what he wanted to do, and that was go the distance with the champ. After that, all that mattered was… Adrian.”

2015 Scene-Writing Challenge: Day 18

June 24th, 2015 by

For the third straight year, June is Scene-Writing Month here at Go Into The Story. Every Monday-Friday at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific, I will upload a post with a scene-writing prompt. Each day, write a scene per those guidelines. Upload your scene here in the comments section of the original post. That way you can critique others’ pages and receive feedback on your scene as well.

Why scene-writing? If the average scene is 1 1/2 to 2 pages long and a script is 100-120 pages, then a screenwriter writes between 50-80 scenes per screenplay. Thus in a very real way, screenwriting is scene-writing. The better we get at writing scenes, it stands to reason the better we get as a screenwriter.

To provide extra motivation for this series — to get people to WRITE PAGES — I am giving away some of my Core classes to Scene-Writing Challenge participants. That’s right: For free!

The Core curriculum provides a comprehensive, coherent, character-based approach to screenwriting theory — eight 1-week online classes. I only teach them once per year. Here is the schedule:

July 6 — Core I: Plot
July 20 — Core II: Concept
August 3 — Core III: Character
August 31 — Core IV: Style
September 28 — Cover V: Dialogue
October 12 — Core VI: Scene
November 9 — Core VII: Theme
December 2 — Core VIII: Time

Each is a 1-week online class featuring 6 lectures written by me, lots of screenwriting insider tips, logline workshops, optional writing exercises, 24/7 message board conversations, teleconferences with course participants and myself to discuss anything related to the craft of scriptwriting.

A popular option is the Core Package which gives you access to the content in all eight Craft classes which you can go through on your own time and at your own pace, plus automatic enrollment in each 1-week online course — all for nearly 50% the price of each individual class. If you sign up now, you can have immediate access to all of the Core content.

Here is a testimonial from a writer who took my Core VII: Theme class:

Your “Theme” class for aspiring screenwriters is not just helpful, it is essential. From the personal attention to the numerous “A-Ha!” moments throughout the class, I was thrilled to simply KEEP LEARNING.  How many teachers can boast about that with their students? — Heather Thompson

To qualify to take one of my Core classes for free, write and submit ten [10] Scene-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers. The former to get you writing, the latter to work your critical-analytical skills.

A chance to take one of my eight Core classes, interface with me online along with the usual stellar group of writers who take Screenwriting Master Class courses, while using writing exercises and feedback to upgrade your skill at writing and analyzing scenes?


That’s what I’m prepared to do to encourage you to write pages.

A couple of logistical notes:

* Limit your scenes to 2 pages. First, most scenes are 2 pages or less in length. Second, out of fairness to everyone participating in the public scene-writing workshop, let’s not abuse anyone’s patience or time with really long scenes.

* Don’t be concerned about proper script format when you copy/paste your scene, rather the content and execution are the important thing. So as a default mode, do this: (1) Don’t worry about right-hand margins on scene description or dialogue, just keep typing until it manually shifts each line. (2) Don’t worry about character name position, rather do this:

SCARLETT: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?

RHETT: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Today’s prompt: Someone is brought to tears.

Who says or does what to cause someone to cry?

What will you do with this scene?

FEEDBACK TIP: Do you buy that what is said or done would cause a character to cry?

Also when you provide feedback on someone’s scene, please note in each reply the number of comments you have uploaded. So if today is your first response, Feedback 1. The next one, Feedback 2.

You are on an honor system, as I don’t have time to check every post, so do the right thing!

Remember: In order to qualify for one of my free Core classes, you need to submit ten [10] Scene-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers.

Once you have written 10 scenes and provided feedback on 10 scenes, email me and let me know which Core class you’d like, and I’ll enroll you in that class — my gift to you for winning the challenge!

Want to join in? Here are the previous challenge prompts:

For the Week 1 writing prompts, go here.

For the Week 2 writing prompts, go here.

For the Week 3 writing prompts, go here.

Day 16: A scene with just one word of dialogue.

Day 17: A scene at a sporting event.

You can check out the fruits of our collective labor from the last two years:

Scene-Writing Exercises (2013)
Scene-Writing Exercises (2014)

Finally, if you have what you think is a good suggestion for a scene-writing prompt, please post that as well.

It’s the 2015 Scene-Writing Challenge! Give a jolt to your creative and writing muscles… and win 1 free online class with yours truly.


Daily Dialogue — June 24, 2015

June 24th, 2015 by

Royal Magistrate: The prisoner wishes to say a word.
William Wallace: [shouts loud and long] Freedom!

Braveheart (1995), written by Randall Wallace

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Memorable 1-Word Lines. Today’s suggestion by James Schramm

Trivia: Screenwriter Randall Wallace had been visiting Edinburgh in 1983 to learn about his heritage when he came across a statue of William Wallace outside Edinburgh Castle; he had never heard of the 14th-century figure who shared his name but was intrigued enough by the stories told to him about “Scotland’s greatest hero” to research the story as much as possible.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by James: “Wallace never strays from his beliefs even until the very end. An all is lost moment that sets up the climax where Scotland wins its freedom.”

Daily Dialogue — June 23, 2015

June 23rd, 2015 by

Jules SNAPS, SAVAGELY TIPPING the card table over, removing the only barrier between himself and Brett. Brett now sits in a lone chair before Jules like a political prisoner in front of an interrogator.

JULES: What country you from!
BRETT: (petrified) What?
JULES: “What” ain’t no country I know! Do they speak English in “What?”
BRETT: (near heart attack) What?
JULES: English-motherfucker-can-you-speak- it?
JULES: Then you understand what I’m sayin’?
JULES: Now describe what Marsellus Wallace looks like!
BRETT: (out of fear) What?

Jules takes his .45 and PRESSES the barrel HARD in Brett’s cheek.

JULES: Say “What” again! C’mon, say “What” again! I dare ya, I double dare ya motherfucker, say “What” one more goddamn time!

Pulp Fiction (1994), screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, story by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Memorable 1-Word Lines. Today’s suggestion by Jon.

Trivia: The Ezekiel bible quote was taken from any early draft of From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). Harvey Keitel’s character was supposed to say it; while walking backwards down the hallway facing the vampires.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Jon: “Beautifully written lines. A wonderful play on words (or word for that matter). Tarantino has described his writing as poetry. This is certainly that. I love how he really takes his time with his scripts to hone them to perfection. This scene is one great example.”

Daily Dialogue — June 22, 2015

June 22nd, 2015 by


Jumanji (1995), screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh and Greg Taylor & Jim Strain, screen story by Greg Taylor & Jim Strain and Chris Van Allsburg, book by Chris Van Allsburg

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Memorable 1-Word Lines. Today’s suggestion by Will King.

Trivia: According to author Chris Van Allsburg, the word “jumanji” is Zulu for “many effects,” which alludes to “the exciting consequences of the game” as mentioned in the film.

Dialogue On Dialogue: The power of one word. Here, it starts a chaotic adventures… and ends it.