Point to point dialogue

In this lesson we where tasked as a group to go out into the town for an hour and listen to people having various conversations. This is to get some ideas on how conversations go naturally, as some of our scripts where a bit unnatural and more robotic. Me, Sophie, Anthony and Joe.S went out as a group and went to Starbucks to get some notes from other peoples conversations, some of the ideas where from walking through the town as well.

Here are some of the notes I came up with:

  • Jacket potato
  • Did you ever want to be a lollipop as your going to f*cking be one
  • Thank you, wait at the end
  • Did you want mid caf or dark caf
  • write baby foetus
  • I play drums, so what can you play?, I can play drums
  • So you don’t play songs?
  • No I play originals
  • I got photo booth stuff and more for £13
  • You doing this boy
  • Why can’t one person talk at once
  • Uggh it’s all sticky
  • Why is Aaron…
  • You got whipped cream?
  • Got to take a selfie, I don’t trust you otherwise
  • I got like the extra caffeinated one
  • Dank meme… Dank Mermaid?
  • Do you even know fashion?
  • Just put it away
  • Snap the end off
  • Are you going to be the one to lick him?
  • Can I smell your sauce?

These various and random conversations relate to different ideas for point to point dialogue including (point to point dialogue worksheet notes);

Real people say random things

  • As writers, we want our characters to talk about things central to our plot, but humans are weird. They don’t talk about important things. More often than not, they talk about mundane things like the weather.

Real people bicker

  • Bickering rarely turns into full arguments. It’s more like a constant buzz of tension.

Real people don’t have long monologues

  • The feel uncomfortable when they’re the only one talking for a long time.

Real people don’t always hear you

  • Real people are hard of hearing. Real people have lawnmowers go by them in the middle of their conversations. Real people say, “What’s that? Huh? What did you say? Come again? Sorry, what?”

Real people refuse to repeat themselves

  • Sometimes, when the other person can’t hear and says “Huh? What did you say?” real people don’t repeat themselves. They say, “Nothing. It’s not important. Never mind, I’ll tell you later. Forget it.” Sometimes, this leads to bickering.

Real people don’t always reply

  • Sometimes, someone will say something like, “Man, it’s a beautiful day,” and then wait for the other person to respond. Usually, the other person says, “Yeah, gorgeous, right?” But sometimes the other person doesn’t say anything. They just grunt or roll their eyes or stare out the window.

Real people use nicknames

  • No one calls you by your first name, middle and last name. So don’t use whole names in your dialogue.

Real people swear

  • Some people are very sensitive to swear words

Real people speak in tangents

Real people lose track of time and their surroundings when they talk

  • Don’t intersperse your dialogue wit a lot of description or action. Your characters aren’t noticing what they’re doing or what they’re seeing. They’re paying attention to the conversation.

Real people exaggerate

  • Real people don’t tell the whole truth and noticing but the truth. They don’t exactly lie either. They just leave things out and exaggerate to make themselves look better. It might be morally questionable, but it’s very human.

Real people tell stories

  • The only time you can write long speeches is when your character is telling a story. People love to tell stories, especially stories about themselves. Sometimes, people will even listen to them.

Real people have accents

Real people talk when no one is listening

  • Even when people don’t reply, real people keep talking anyway. This is great way to show annoyance, if your character’s lecturing someone, or insecurity, if he can’t stand the sound of silence, or even social awkwardness, if he can’t pick up on social cues.

Real people don’t talk at all

  • Sometimes, real people are too mad or too nervous or too sullen or too much of a teenager to talk. Don’t make your characters talk if they don’t want it.

Real people say less than they feel

  • In the end, dialogue isn’t the best tool for developing a plot because real people are unpredictable. They rarely speak about the things closest to them. They rarely speak about their vulnerabilities. They often talk about the most superficial, irrelevant subjects. Real people say less they feel, which makes it very difficult to get emotion, sentiment, and transformation across through dialogue.

The key is to get your characters into a situation where they’re so broken, so destitute, so screwed up that they’ll say anything. And perhaps that’s why we read fiction anyway, to hear people say exactly what’s on their mind.






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