Little Start Up Words are Dialogue Killers

“Well” is the one I see most. “Yeah” runs a close second.

Get rid of them.

Don’t have words at the start of a piece of dialogue that are just you, revving up your motor before you get to the main event. Get to the juicy stuff with no wasteful prologue.

Don’t have someone say “Are you eligible for parole, Rocco?”
Followed by, “Yeah. You bet. In ten days.”
That’s fine for first draft, but then you trim to “In ten days.”

Or something far, far better than that. You’re the writer.

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4 Comments

Filed under Bad Writing, Dialogue, Screenwriting

4 responses to “Little Start Up Words are Dialogue Killers

  1. This is even worse in books. I actually threw down “The Time Traveller’s Wife” and have never–and probably will never–pick it up again. Thanks for wasting my time with an “Uh huh.” Like that needed to be written down for posterity or something. Insulting. (Yeah, I’m an elitist sometimes…it happens.)

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Thank you for saving me the time of reading it. It takes great strength of character to stop reading a book. Especially if it’s one you paid for. I do most of my book reading via the library, so, if they suck, I put it down without a thought to any financial investment. With a time investment, you suddenly have all that time handed back to you… the instant you give up on a book… That one sounds like a good one to have given up on.

  2. Lisa

    I’m with you on “yeah,” but disagree about “well.” It usually indicates reluctance. “Well, okay” is different from just “Okay.” If you cut “well,” you may change the meaning.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Lisa,

      It’s all a rule of thumb. I’m sure if I went through the script I’m working on now, it’d be full of “yeah”s. Sometimes you need stuff. For sure. But, yes, if you take it out and it changes the meaning, then absolutely, put it in. And, that’s a great rule of thumb.

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