Struggling Screenwriter, Part Two of One Zillion

 

…Continued from yesterday


In the next draft of the first screenplay we wrote as a team, we bounced from one mistake–funny action scenes that did not advance the plot or the character development–to a new mistake: TMD (Too Much Dialog.)  We had lots of speechifying in which the characters explained their intentions.  Maybe we thought we were doing radio or something…LOL.   Too much text, not enough subtext.  Too much talk, not enough action.

 


 

EXAMPLE OF TOO MUCH DIALOG


MAGNOLIA

Hi, Vanook, I want you to hire me for a few months.  I need six million dollars so that I can buy the land from a developer so that my wolves don’t get kicked off the land.  Everyone tells me that if I go to work in a dotcom I can make tons of money in a short time; and I have tried to get money from all my big donors, but everyone has a reason they can’t give any more money right now.  We are going to get kicked off the wildlife preserve in six months if I don’t come up with a down payment on the land.


So, in the following draft, we rewrote the dialogue so that there was less talking; but we made the mistake of being too direct with the dialog, too “on the nose.”  We didn’t leave any room for the actors to create subtext or for the audience to imagine.

 

EXAMPLE OF NO SUBTEXT IN THE TEXT


MAGNOLIA

I need you to hire me.

VANOOK

Why?

MAGNOLIA


I need five million dollars.


There is little room for interpretation in the above dialogue.  There is little room for subtext. Yes, there is room for the actor to choose that she is hot for him; she could just want the money; she could hate him; she could not really give a shit.  But the directness of the text hobbles many of these interpretations, and a mediocre director might force the emotional content to match the text. .. Not a fun scene for actors and boring for the audience.  They want to be kept guessing.

 

In the next draft, we rewrote the dialogue so it was not “on the nose.” The new dialogue can skirt around the character’s need in a scene and there is more subtext available to the performer.

 


EXAMPLE OF DIALOGUE WITH STRONG SUBTEXT POSSIBLE


MAGNOLIA

So, are you guys doing well?

 

VANOOK

We are.

MAGNOLIA

Um.

 

VANOOK

Nice seeing you.

 

MAGNOLIA

Hey, Vans.

 

VANOOK

Vans?

 

MAGNOLIA

Vanook…

 

…etc.


In this example, there is room for interpretation.


  • Did she once tell him she would NEVER work for him again?

     

     

     

     

  • Is she hot for him?

     

     

     

     

  • Does she hate him?

     

     

     

     

  • Does she want the money but can’t ask because her parents raised her with no self-esteem?

     

     

     

     

  • Is she hoping he will offer without the “ask”?

     

     

     

     

  • Is she trying to formulate the correct words while he is trying to catch a flight?

     

     

     

     

  • Has she asked him this before?

     

     

     

     

  • Why the hell isn’t she being more direct?

     

     

     

     

 

That’s what asked ourselves when we laid out each scene. If there was at least one possible subtextual interpretation that wasn’t on the nose with the text, then the scene was minimally playable.

,

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes