Script Writing Lesson 2: Dialogue

Task 1

Think about the last film or TV program you watched where two characters spoke to each other for a reasonable length of time (maybe at least 1 minute of action).

Think about what was good about the conversation they had. How was it structured? How well was it written? Was the conversation led by just one of the characters or was it quite equal? What was the topic of conversation?

This conversation is called Dialogue. Dialogue is essentially any conversations that takes place between two or more characters on stage.

Write a list of 5 things that you think make good dialogue.

Task 2

Watch this YouTube video produced by the National Theatre and take notes on writing effective dialogue.

Task 3

Go back to you plan from lesson one and refresh yourself with the overall story arc you have created.

Now look more closely at the exposition and if you haven’t already, make notes on the following things:

List A

  • Where is the play/film set?
  • What year is the play/film set?
  • What time of year is the play/film set?
  • What are the key characters involved in the play/film?
  • What are the key events that occur before the play/film?
  • What are the individual backstories to the key characters?

Let’s think now more specifically about what happens in the first scene? Answer these questions.

List B

  • When is the first scene set?
  • What characters are in the first scene?
  • What happens in the first scene?
  • What is the atmosphere you want to create in the first scene?
  • What key plot needs to be revealed in the first scene?
  • What needs to be revealed about the characters in the first scene?

Task 4

You are going to write the first ten lines of dialogue for the first scene in your play/film. In that dialogue you need to reveal 3 things from List B and 1 thing from List A. You must also limit yourself to just having two characters on stage at the start. A third character can enter the stage towards the end of the ten lines of dialogue.

When you are ready, read through your dialogue with someone else in your house. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Does it achieve everything you wanted it to do? Does it include character names? Change it if appropriate.