What movies are….
Movies are usually imitations of real life situations (especially the dramas), but sometimes, the things we say in real life are long and boring, and wouldn’t pass for a movie dialogue. And that’s also why people lose interest in whatever you’re saying (you see them yawn or you just see the light go out in their eyes). There is no room for that in movies. The audience must always be kept interested, and it’s obviously the job of the screenwriter to make this happen. So if you’re yawning while watching a movie, and it’s not because you’re tired and sleepy.
Now, there are a couple of ways to achieve this: tell the story through the actions; contrast your statements so that they are executed quickly; apply poetry and make it come off with a rhythm; or make use of humor to liven up the story. These are some of my own realizations; others may have more to say about this.
Telling the story…
…through actions means you decreasing the amount of dialogue you apply to your work and increasing the story-telling action (like the old wise saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”). This would mean the audience seeing a lot and hearing the humans talk less, but whenever they hear them, it’s perfect speech that means a lot, and clarifies all the action they’d just seen, or will see. This is a difficult art, as most people are use to telling the story through dialogue, but doing this sometimes bores the audience, and probably gets your movie script rated low. Pictures tell more stories, and in a more convincing way than the words themselves.
Another method of helping your movie dialogue could be this:
Contracting most of your statements. This is a grammar thing. Make use of expressions such as “He’d arrive late” instead of “He would arrive late”; “Jason’s agitated” instead of “Jason is agitated”; “Seen this before” instead of “I have seen this before”; and so on. This helps the message come off fast, and keeps the audience expectant of the next line detail. I’m not even joking!
Also, applying poetry to your script sometimes could help the audience feel like they’re listening to different songs throughout the movie. It’s almost like how the Black Americans speak, or how the Italians speak English. There is always this rhythm that plays in the audience’s heads when they listen to such kind of dialogue, and it certainly would keep them interested in the story.
The importance of humor cannot be over-emphasized, even in the most horror of movies. Sometimes, you need some comical statements to keep you at ease with all the horror and chaos going on in that story. Some audience may not be able to take such gruesome detail, and so, for their sake, dilute it with a few comical statements integrated in the story. That would also keep them interested, and give them a feeling of hope.
Read another post on dialogue grammar HERE.
Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.
She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.