The true challenge all screenwriters must face is dialogue formation. While you may be a wonderful storyteller, if your dialogue is stilted or flat, your entire story will be lost. While techniques and tips to enhance dialogue are plentiful, the most important question to continually ask yourself: “Is there a better way to phrase what I just said?”
While you should never second guess yourself in terms of talent, second guessing your dialogue is how true gemstones are cut out from a boulder.
Even if you feel your dialogue is perfect, playing with words and phrasing to see if there’s a better method of communicating is essential for true dialogue formation.
The best question any screenwriter may ask himself is, “What about…” This simple question may lead to dialogue formation that’s different or unexpected. While you may have a perfectly formed dialogue structure, more times than not, there’s a better way to say what you’re trying to say.
Consider approaching the piece of dialogue with a different intent than what was originally written. Sometimes our knowledge about future events accidentally shapes how our character’s speak. This can ruin the power of an upcoming scene as it will seem the character had knowledge of what is to come.
Approach each scene with an eye of detecting different possibilities. Even if altering dialogue changes the mood of a scene, sometimes this change is for the best, which brings me to my next point:
Always Be Open To Changes
One of the biggest mistakes you may make as a screenwriter is being unwilling to change a scene. While this may not seem like a big deal, if you change one scene you may have to change another.
The script, “Power of a Dream” was my first to be optioned by a production company. While writing this piece, I had outlined each scene and wrote according to this outline. While it allowed me to finish the script in record time, it left certain scenes and dialogue blocks stilted and strange. During the editing process I realized what needed to be changed; however, this change would require altering many other scenes that came before and after it.
Ultimately, I altered the scene in question and the subsequent scenes. By doing so I was able to achieve another level of realism and interest, which is exactly why I sold this script for a large advance. Therefore, don’t think your writing is so perfect that it cannot be continually altered. When you begin thinking this way, your screenplay will elevate to a level that’s professional and interesting.