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09/22/2001 - The Importance of Good Dialog
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Teleplay Tips & Tricks

The Importance of Good Dialog

One of the paradoxes of TV writing is that although story is king, writers in television are judged by their dialog.

The complicated stories are usually constructed by the entire staff, with input from the stars, stunt co-ordinators, and network personnel. But the dialog of course is up to the writer...and rewriter, but that's a whole nuther thing.

In the context of a teleplay, "good" dialog means dialog that is concise, witty, and revealing of human character and emotion. Dialog does NOT have to tell the story. What we see will tell us what's going on. What we hear should tell us about the people involved.

Dialog should seem realistic, but the writers who rise to the top are those who know how to edit "reality" so that their characters are much more intense, much more clever and more expressive, than real people usually are. Know how sometimes after an emotional confrontation you wake up the next morning and think, "I should've said THIS instead of THAT?" Well, all your characters, especially your leads, should say what you would if second-guessing yourself. Because, after all, as a writer you actually have the time to do just that.

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