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  • Anthony Hett

How to write a short film - Writing dialogue (part one)

Hello and welcome to my blog, where I offer simple and practical advice on how to write and make an interesting, engaging and hopefully successful short film.


In today‘s blog post I will be taking a look at the topic of Writing dialogue.


Writing dialogue is definitely one of my favourite stages of developing and writing a script and I’m pretty sure that it is probably one of your favourite stages too?


As you might know if you have read my previous blog posts, I believe that it is absolutely crucial to do hard work on developing and understanding your characters and plot before you even start thinking about writing any dialogue. This is something that I have spoken about in my post Knowing your characters.


However, even before you have done the hard work on character and plot, there are a few things that you can be doing, to help develop and improve your dialogue writing skills.


Watch

I know that it just sounds like a good excuse to watch even more films and television series, and I can guarantee you that this is how your family and friends will see it, but watching films and television programmes really is incredibly important in helping you to understand structure, character and plot, as well as dialogue. So watch as many films and series as you can and make sure to tell your family, friends, partners, etc that The Film Coach said that it was OK, in fact tell them that I said it was your homework.


Of course, don't spend all of your time glued to the screen. Remember to get up and go outside for some fresh air every now and again and also be sure to leave yourself sometime for writing and other commitment. However, watching films and tv series, especially those similar to the ones you want to write and make, can be very helpful.



Read

Reading is one of the most helpful things you can do for your writing. I have to admit that I am not a naturally avid reader but I try to keep up on my reading because I know how much it can help improve my writing. So I find time when I can. I tend to read when I am on the tube or for 30 minutes before bed, but wherever and whenever you do it, I would highly recommend trying to find sometime time in your day for reading.


What you read is obviously also of importance. Personally I try to consume a mixture of different reading materials, books about screenwriting and filmmaking, film and television scripts and also some fiction and non-fiction books that have nothing to do with film or television. This last one is because although it is important to be dedicated to your craft, it is important to also have other hobbies and interests, these will help keep you sane. I personally love open water swimming but whatever your interest, baking, cycling, photography, whatever it is, ensure to include a few books or articles on the topics that you love outside of writing and making films.



Listen

Listening to other people's conversations can help you to understand how people really speak. What they say, how they say it - which can change from person to person, based on background, location etc - and how people - especially us in the UK - often spend a lot of their time not actually saying what we mean.


There is no better way to understand the way people speak than by simply listening to people. Be nosey. Listen to people in coffee shops, supermarkets and on public transport. Try to listen to as many different people as possible - male, female, old, young, rich, poor - talking in as many different settings and situations as you can.



So those are my initial thoughts on Writing dialogue. I hope that you found them helpful. Let me know what you think in the comments below and share this post with other people who might find it helpful. Be sure to check out my YouTube videos and previous blog posts, and don't forget that there are new videos and blog posts every Wednesday at 9am (gmt). In my next post I will be taking a second look at Writing dialogue.