Waste of Time Dialogue…

Cut stuff where people don’t say something new. If the dialogue repeats, in any way, what comes before or after, then cut it. When the dialogue goes away, you don’t notice.

First Version

RICHARDS
I gotta get some air.

SOAPY
Joe said stay here.

RICHARDS
He’s not my momma. You’re not my momma either.

SOAPY
Sit tight, Harry.

RICHARDS
I need something.

SOAPY
Yeah. Me too. But we can’t leave.

RICHARDS
The hell. I’m no lap dog!

Second Version

RICHARDS
I gotta get some air.

SOAPY
Joe said sit tight, Harry.

RICHARDS
I need something.

SOAPY
Yeah. Me too. But we can’t leave.

RICHARDS
The hell. I’m no lap dog!

I kept the important part about Joe. The rest, who cares.
Do that for your whole script!

In the Anniversary Department… this is my 300th Blog. Maybe I’ll write another book…

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3 Comments

Filed under Dialogue, Rewriting, Screenwriting

3 responses to “Waste of Time Dialogue…

  1. Melody Lopez

    you know what else too? Not knowing the characters… or who they are …something even sounds either put on or false about a man saying “he’s not my momma”…so that is another reason the second version reads more smoothly…something about how not everyone can pull off saying “my momma”…no different then not every man can be suave enough to refer romantically as “baby girl” …does that make sense?

    • Michael Darby

      ‘Don’t repeat dialogue’ is a good general rule to follow, but, like all rules, can be broken, though you’d better have a damned good reason for doing so. For example, the same line spoken by a different character later in the story can set off resonances and emotional responses which take it to a whole new level. Or, a letter, read by the receiver as a suicide note, can later be dictated (in flashback) by the sender as an expression of love and determination to live. Somebody once said, rules are intended for the obedience of fools and the guidance of the wise…

      • Michael Darby

        And, of course, good use could be made of repetition for comic effect (can’t immediately think of any examples). But as a general rule, it’s true, don’t have a character repeat the same thing in a scene, even in a different way. It’s one of the enemies of a concise, tight script!

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