Write Now: It’s The Dialogue That’s Intriguing

It’s the melodrama that gets me — every time.

For as long as I as I have been watching TV, I have been attracted to dialogue. And I guess the daytime TV dramas, better known as soap operas were all about dialogue.

I remember them from my youth, especially in the summer months because that’s when I would view them the most. During the school year, I would catch the tail end some of them. From my recollection, the soaps would begin at about 12:30 p.m. and end about 4 p.m.

The big three networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, all had soaps, and competed for viewership during those hours. If you chose one network, it was the network you watched for the 3 1/2-hour span. Many people didn’t channel surf, because, in my opinion, if you liked one soap on one particular network, you would probably like all of them. I was partial to the soaps on CBS. “The Young & The Restless,” “The Bold and The Beautiful,” “As The World Turns,” and “The Guiding Light.” Writing believable dialogue is not easy. For some reason, I watched these shows and paid close attention to dialogue on each show. My favorite shows were “The Y&R” and “The Guiding Light.” For me, those two shows had the most believable characters and dialogue. And by coincidence, I interviewed two actors from “The Y&R,” Melody Thomas Scott, who portrays Nikki Newman, and Michael Damian, who portrays Danny Romalotti.

Damian’s story ran on July 28, 1989, and he said his character was no different than his real life. Romalotti “was a struggling musician and that’s exactly was I was doing in real life, so in a way, Danny Romalotti is Michael Damian. He’s a nice guy who cares about people and is going to make it. The show has used some of my music that I actually wrote for the character and for particular situations. There’s been a lot of musical growth for both Danny and me over the past eight years,” Damian said at the time. And when Damian is writing songs he writes about life. “When I write, I like to write about relationships. I like to write about friends, people, that I know, fantasy relationships, or whatever inspires me at the time. I guess I’m an old romantic, so I like the romantic ballads too.”

Damian landed his role on “The Y&R after” he was spotted by the producers on American Bandstand. They were looking to add the character of a young rock musician to the cast, and created Danny Romalotti, after seeing Damian perform. I saw him perform at Chautauqua, and was lucky enough to meet the soap star after his show.

From the March 20, 2003 article, Scott said there is no such thing as a typical day on the set of The Y&R. They are all widely different. Some days she gets called in at 6:30 a.m. and is done by 8:30 a.m. Other days she goes in at noon and is done by 3 p.m. Or, if there is a big production scene, like a party or wedding, she could get called in at 7 a.m. and finish around midnight. “Most of the time, it’s just a few hours. It’s fantastic,” she said.

Other popular soaps include “Search For Tomorrow,” “The Edge Of Night,” “Days Of Our Lives,” “General Hospital,” “All My Children,” “One Life To Live,” “Santa Barbara,” “Ryan’s Hope,” and “Capitol.”

Sadly, only four soaps remain on TV. In my opinion, it’s the strong writing that keeps them on the air.

Screenwriter and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino revealed in a Youtube interview, youtube.com/watch?v=fFlX-fsPWwQ, how he creates dialogue. “How I actually discovered writing dialogue is I used to be an actor in acting classes,” he said.

Here is an exercise that you may want to try. In a public place, record people talking, and then listen back to it later to hear the rhythms, cadences, and timbres of the voices. Listen how real people talk, and it will give you insight on how to create dialogue.


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