Film Courage: In what ways can a writer improve their dialogue?
Daniel Calvisi: Listening. Practice. I mean, keep writing, keep rewriting. Have actors read it out loud. I mean they don’t have to be professional actors. But just you and a friend, read it out loud, listen to how it flows. I think that can be really helpful.
Film Courage: I like that…listening…where are we listening?
Daniel Calvisi: Listening to how people talk. Listening to interesting people, around, how they talk. And then once you write your dialogue, read it out loud. You know, do a table read with friends or your writer’s group or just even if you read it out loud yourself.
Film Courage: I find it interesting that a lot of times people (certain people) will end their sentences with “Right?” Or “You know…” and they continually do this. Is that important? Because even though that’s not…it can get actually irritating after awhile but there are certain people that this is how they sort of…they always want validation for what they’re saying. So it’s… “Right? Right?” Women do this a lot and I’ll say this about my own gender because we do a lot of it “Right?” Because we want people to know that we’ve heard them, they’ve heard us and they got what we said. Do we infuse things like this in a script or would this become too repetitive?
Daniel Calvisi: Well, you want each character to sound unique to themselves. Ideally if you covered up the character’s name and read the line, you would be able to tell it was that specific character because they should have a specific voice.
And if you have a character who needs validation and every sentence ends with “Right?” or “Is that okay or good?” Then you would write that. But in listening to how real people talk it doesn’t mean you are transcribing it exactly. People don’t talk like they are in a movie but so there is a certain amount of dramatic license that you have to use. But you can write too cinematically, you can write too theatrically, too much like your characters are on stage and that can come through on the page and that can really hurt your script.
Film Courage: Can you give me an example? I find that interesting because I’ve definitely seen that in films where it doesn’t feel real.
Daniel Calvisi: Well I would say two writers who do that a lot would be….(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
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