Dialogues have two purposes in the story:
- To move the story forward.
- To reveal something about the character.
Firstly, before writing any piece of dialogue, we need to understand why we’re writing the dialogue in the first place. Even before the dialogue period (or let’s say the period of silent films), there were a lot of fantastic movies being made. While it does not mean in any way that dialogues do not bring anything to the story – it brings something to the story. That’s the reason we need to understand does the dialogue continues the story forward.
Now, at this point, I’ve realized that conflict is what drives the story forward. CONFLICT is in true sense what the story is all about.
Here, the point is to write the dialogue in context of what’s the story is about – well, we can write a dialogue between our protagonist (let’s say a musician) and her mom, however, if it’s not serving any purpose to the story, then it just becomes the waste of time. This applies out to the scene as well. If the scene of the conversation between her and her mother does not serve anything to the overall structure of the story, then the scene is just a waste.
Again, the question remains what kind of dialogues to write.
In order to answer this, you need to understand the particular setting and theme of your movie and most importantly, the scene. For example, your character might be a humorous person, but he may not act humorous in front of his family while having dinner. That’s an important thing to know – firstly, at a character level and whether or not, the character would say some witty dialogues at that moment. Secondly, at a human level – whether or not people would normally say these words.
Once again – it’s upon you as a writer to make these choices.
Now after knowing the character, it’s also important to note the purpose of that particular scene in the movie. Let’s go back to the dinner scene – why does the dinner scene exist in the movie? What happens if we remove that dinner scene from the movie? Will we miss something? Of course, we should – or else, there’s no reason to keep that scene in the film. The point here is that CONFLICT DRIVES THE SCENE.
The main character – the musician mentions she has to travel a few hundred kilometers for a few days in order to attend a show that she has always been waiting to perform, while the family, in particular, her mom refuses the proposal.
Let’s write this scene:
Kriti (while eating): Dad, ma bholi pokhara jaadai chhu hai – euta show garnu chha
Father: Bholi nai? Kati chado decide gareko ta?
Mother: Pokhara jaane re? Pardaina bahira jaana eklai eklai.
This scene reveals a lot of characteristics about each person – how they react to the situation. The character is speaking to her dad, which means, she trusts her dad more than her mom. The father is open to the possibility when her daughter asks her to be away for a few days, while not opposing the proposal. Her mom opposes the idea straight away – now this comes from her belief system. Maybe she is insecure about her daughter going that far away. Beliefs are generally revealed as the story goes forward, which brings me towards a strong point – people speak about what they believe the most.
Just analyze the CHIYA GUFF that happens in your neighborhood shop, when your father aged people have a conversation about the politics – although they do not involve directly into any activity, it’s the belief that they are talking about.
The best dialogues in the movies are the most simple ones.
They serve their purpose. Either they move the story forward or they reveal something about the character (sometimes, they do both). Now, movies connect us to a deeper level because they take us to a place or situation where we might not be in the real world. That brings me to the SUBTEXT of the movie.
SUBTEXT is a powerful thing – it is what makes the simple line of dialogue a powerful one.
I’ll be covering more about subtext in the next blog post, stay tuned!! Happy writing.