Long dialogue?

Discussion in 'Basics' started by SolusOne, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. SolusOne

    SolusOne Bronze Member

    So Ive started writing on my first piece.
    But Im kinda unsure about this.

    Length of a single piece of dialogue. . . ?

    I have two characters sitting in a room where one of them is telling a tale that pretty much gives us as viewers the whole background of this world and how it came to be as it is. Also what our hero should try to achieve. . .

    But it will most likely fit on two pages.

    That to much? Or is it kinda the "if it works, then its good"?
  2. Lon

    Lon Bronze Member

    There's nothing wrong with exposition, but don't overdo it. If possible, relay the information the character is giving in a visual way -- maybe have him narrate while showing us what he's talking about instead of just having him sitting in a chair talking about it.

    Remember that movies are a VISUAL medium. Two guys talking at length in a chair may work fine in a broadway play, but it doesn't work in movies unless your talent for writing dialogue borders on Tarantino-esque.

    Just saying.
  3. Loudog89

    Loudog89 Bronze Member

    The general rule is to keep dialogue to 3-4 lines at the most.

    There are exceptions for important parts though, and if this is one of the parts of the movie where there would be no other way to inform the viewer of what you want to tell them, you might not have a choice.

    Try to figure out a different way to go about it though, perhaps using a gripping first scene. Will people be intrigued reading/ hearing a character talk for 2 pages as the opening to your movie? Always try to think like someone reading your script, what is the best way to catch their attention?

    If you have to resort to the 2 page long dialogue, maybe insert footage correlating to the story he's telling and make it a voice-over.
  4. SolusOne

    SolusOne Bronze Member

    Thanks for the replies.
    Ill take it and chew on it for a while, then be back later if something comes up ;)
  5. craktactor

    craktactor Moderator

    So... two people. Sitting in a room. Talking. One of which does the telling.

    This could be a radio play just as easily, don't you think?

    Motion pictures are just that, Motion Pictures. Pictures that move, both in a physical sense and emotional sense.

    The first law, as it were, in screenwriting is to show not tell.

    Now if they're having their talk and fighting off a horde of zombies or whatnot, then you could get away with it. But if they're just sitting there...?
  6. Writerguy

    Writerguy Bronze Member

    Well, there's no way it's gonna work, so fuggedabout trying to make it work and figure out a different way to convey the information to your audience. Some okay suggestions have already been made by others along these lines.

    Get your head around the idea that static scenes with talking heads are the first sign of an amateur writer at work. And think about this: Have you ever seen a movie in which two characters sat and talked for two or three minutes? I'd bet a dollar to a donut you haven't. So take the hint that provides.

    As Cracktactor noted, movies are about showing, not telling; they're about movement, not sitting.

    Go out on the web and download a dozen screenplays. Read them, then emulate them in your own work. You won't find a dialogue scene that's longer than a page in any of them, and most will be shorter than that, many a lot shorter.

    You have to figure out how this is done and about the only way you can do that is through studying other screenplays. Read, study, and think = learning.
  7. Tim G

    Tim G Bronze Member

    Have you heard of Harold Pinter's dumb waiter that is mainly 2 people sitting around talking.
  8. craktactor

    craktactor Moderator

    Unless of course you're Woody Allen and you're writing Annie Hall (BIG, HUGE exception - he directed it, plus, he's Woody Allen ;))

    Yes... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dumb_Waiter and it's also a one act PLAY. Not movie. :rolleyes:
  9. Tim G

    Tim G Bronze Member

    True but it was made into a movie, it has Lee Evans in it. :)
  10. craktactor

    craktactor Moderator

    Hmm. Who is Lee Evans? And was it a studio release? Or an indie release? Where did it play, Art Houses?

    Just like "My Dinner with Andre", there's exceptions.
    But those exceptions aren't profit makers, and that's all the studios care about.
    That's the point I was trying to make.

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