24 April.

Review exercise 1B: OPENERS

(from faz’s openers)

Peter returned home only to discover a strong stench coming from his room. The living room was in a horrid mess, as though someone was searching for something and had not bothered to put things back in place. “If mom was here, she’d freak..” Peter thought. “Wait a minute. Where is mom?” His heart started pounded so loudly, he was not surprised if the deaf neighbor next door could hear it too. He crept his way across the house to his room, he was holding his breath as he peeped into the door that was ajar. What he saw was a sight that he knew would give him nightmares for days.

We can use other people’s openers as long as we have the idea but we have to change the words in the end. We can only copy the way the stories are executed.. Not the exact thing though. Everyone has the same idea, but the way you treat it must be different.

Elements of dialogue.

-Dialogue reveals character:

A character will talk about himself and other people will talk about him.

-Dialogue establishes relationships between characters:

Once you have established your main character’s POV, you can use dialogue with other characters to show that they have other attitudes, creating opposite/alternative POVs. Like letting the audience know more about the character. Eg, “I hate gay people!”

This helps to create and sustain the element of CONFLICT between characters.

(All scripts have conflicts to have story)

-Good effective dialogue will move the story forward.

-Dialogue communicates faces and information to the audience:

It conveys essential exposition;

Characters will talk about what happened, establishing the story line.

-Dialogue comments on the action. “oh my gawd, he ran into a wall” (This, we should try to use as little as possible. No need to repeat the point too many times)

-Dialogue ties the script together:

It is one of the devices that YOU as a writer can use to expand and enlarge your characters.

“If you can see it or hear it, don’t write it.”- Neville Smith

-Dialogue should be used sparingly.

-Never tell the audience what they can see for themselves!

<Dialogue is no substitute for action>

In Hollywood when they look at a page and its got too much black, too much ink on the paper, they say: “SHIT! ITS FREEZE THE CAMERA TIME!”

Common mistake

-Students sometimes never achieve a level of competence a they tend to reproduce conventional spoken language, a long statements of “REAL TALKING”, and defend their decision by telling us that:

“That’s how the character speaks.”

-Good dialogue is not somebody’s ability to write authentic speech as heard in real life:

If that was all there is to it, you can just push a button on the tape recorder and then go collect your Oscar.

-Good dialogue is the illusion of reality:

You’ve got to know how to edit what people say without losing any of the spirit.

-Students tend to create radio shows with images.

<Film is a visual medium>

& a screenplay is a story told in pictures.

Exercise: Writing dialogue.

Husband: “Honey I’m home!”

Wife : “Wow finally. I thought you forgot that you’ve a home.”

Husband: “Is your period coming?  Why are you acting all menstrual on me?”

Wife: “Oh I don’t know.. Maybe it’s because of the fact that you did not come home for dinner without informing me, for the 3rd time this week, and that you smell like an alcoholic!”

Husband: “Geez woman, it slipped my mind. It’s not like I want to intentionally skip your dinner. Work has been stressful lately.. Can’t I just go for a break with my friends? Or do I have to get your permission for that too?”

Wife: “What’s that supposed to mean!”

The real exercise:

Dad: Hey, children I’m home! Hey, there, dog. Hey, darling.

Mom: How come you’re so late today?

Dad: Work has been insane, had to do over time again.

Mom: Well, you could call.. You keep coming home late, it’s like we’ve no father in the household no more. Anyway, you still want dinner?

Dad: Yeah maybe I’ll get some instant noodles.

Mom: AGAIN?! You know they’re not good for you. Think of your health. All the MSG. No wonder you have so little hair. Why can’t you just eat rice that has been cooked already!

Dad: ignores mom and goes ahead to eat the noodles in front of her, almost defiantly


Storytelling tool 1: observtion.

-whom am I writing about?

-who is my character?

-what is he or she like?

-what does he/she/it

-people rarely observe familiar people or things closely.

-most people pass through the day with 20- 30% awareness

Mindless observations VS True observations:

-observe in a conscious way.

-ability to SEE and RECORD people:

-their movements, their physical characteristics, the setting/places they’re in.


1)   Walk into the canteen/library, etc. and watch people pass by.

2)   Eventually, one will catch your attention.

3)   Write down as many details as possible through observations & your own thoughts.

4)   Repeat steps 1-3 for a second character.

5)   Transcribe these details into the ‘people-watch’ page that will create on your blog.


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