People Don’t Say That

An Interesting Observation of Dialogue

Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass is a unique look into how the screenwriter creates his scripts. The way he does dialogue is amazing, and one of the most important lessons I took from him was no one starts a sentence with damn.

Interesting right, let’s talk about dialogue.

Back at it again, I see

Alright, I don’t remember the last time I talked about dialogue, but a lot has changed since I was 24. Now I’m 27, and let me tell you my thoughts on how dialogue has changed.

In the past, I was pretty much on the ship that it needed to be realistic and in the realm of possibility. Meaning that the words that a character says need to be true to that character. In a way, I still believe that, but after seeing tv shows, marvel movies, and some very entertaining books (A Murder of Manatees by Larry Correia), I began to wonder why I enjoyed them so much.

Evolution of Dialogue

The evolution of dialogue might be a stretch, but it sounded good in my mind. So let’s think about it.

The dialogue from books in the 19th century compared to dialogue in the 21st century are different. As time moves forward, society changes, slang develops, and certain words are washed away. People grow, and as the years go on, reading can sometimes be a chore. The years of four pages of description of one vase in the back of the room that holds no importance but to show off how rich a character is should be gone.

In a world where everything needs to be fast, catchy, and meaningful, the same should be said for dialogue.

A majority of my friends love a good story but dislike reading. They find it boring, slow, and tedious—a by-product of all the years of being forced to read in school. Also, no one likes being told what to do.

This can be said for movies, tv shows, and comics.

[Can you just get to the point already? Tell me the tip.]

The tip is that dialogue should be entertaining but also in the realm of possibility. It should be fun to read but also pulling the reader along with the action or prose. Bleeding personality and thoughts. It should throw the reader into a rollercoaster of emotion. They must be willing to find out what’s on the next page.

Your story might be the greatest in the world, but if the execution is poor isn’t doesn’t matter anymore.

What do you mean?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Dialogue is more than a device for progressing through the story. It’s a way for the writer to help give personality to the characters. Give expositions through natural means, and overall spice up the drama of your story.

Dialogue should be entertaining to read, listen to, and watch. Some might disagree and power to you, but if you want your dialogue to stick, make a difference. If you want your book to branch out from all the new york bestsellers groups and reach more people. Individuals that don’t normally read. I feel you need to make it entertaining.

Make it spicy, add all the personality that pushes your reader to look at your character say, “I really hate/love this character.” If you can get your reader to do that, you are on your way up.

Remember, characters are a collection of you, your research, and a butt ton of stakes. They aren’t meant to be real people, just a glimpse of real people that the reader or watch can sympathize, empathize with, and maybe even place themselves in their shows.

Here is an example from Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett:

“DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING,” said Death. “JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.”

I mean, come on. Didn’t you think that was fun to read? I found myself smiling just reading it.

Conclusion

Now before you set me ablaze with your pitchforks, this is just my opinion, a suggestion from one writer to the next. These are as much a suggestion for you as it is for me. I’m not giving you a hard rule to stick by, and being entertaining is as vague as it is in the bible. You can use it any way you want, don’t feel like you need to be trapped in a formulaic pattern. You can branch out and do things your way.

These are my thoughts, my analyst from watching, reading, and experiencing modern stories. Take a look at the marvel movies, see how cheeky they are with the dialogue. There is a reason why people still like those movies and tv shows even if they are almost all the same. When you hear Loki make a joke, it is almost like something you would say at that moment. Putting a little sassy out there.

Writing must grow and adapt to the changing times. Don’t feel like you are trapped in a box where you must do this or must do that, but if you want your work to get out there, add a little flavor to the way your characters speak.

They will always be cheeky, be on time with the perfect response to stupid questions, and know exactly what to say at the right moment because you are the one writing them. But, unlike our world, we can pause theirs.

That’s all from me, thanks for reading.

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

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J. L. Lambert II

J. L. Lambert II

Jerry’s passion for writing can be traced back to his childhood. Where he spent time writing fiction with friends. As a he got older he found love in the craft.