Seven Tips for Writing Dialogue

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The best way to learn how to write dialogue is to pay close attention to how people talk in real life. Yet if you transcribe an actual conversation, you will find a lot of bits that should be cut out.

Below are seven guidelines from Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen that all screenwriters should think about when writing dialogue:

  1. Dialogue should be brief.
  2. It should add to the reader’s present knowledge.
  3. It should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation.
  4. It should convey a sense of spontaneity but eliminate the repetitiveness of real talk.
  5. It should keep the story moving forward.
  6. It should be revelatory of the speaker’s character, both directly and indirectly.
  7. It should show the relationships among people.

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