Try Holding A Conversation By Quoting Movie Lines

If you happen to be in the grocery store in the next few days, be aware — of your surroundings.

Stay on mission to buy your necessary food, but listen to the sounds around you. When pushing your cart to the deli counter or to the checkout lane listen to how people speak. It may be a little more difficult now that most people wear masks.

Listen to the interaction between the cashier and the person ahead of you in line. Listen to how they speak to each other. The rhythm and cadence of one person is totally different than the other person. And if one has a foreign accent, it makes the encounter all the more interesting.

What you are doing is listening to dialogue.

A conversation.

Dialogue is what propels and connects events.

Without dialogue your story or article may seem a little dry — somewhat like a science or math textbook.

With dialogue, the characters live, and you know how they talk.

So, if you watch films, you notice mostly dialogue and how characters interact with one another.

It’s fascinating.

And if you really like the movie, you may watch it again and again.

And one thing you do is remember the interesting dialogue. In fact you memorize certain scenes as best you can, only to recite the best lines to your friends. In some situations it may seem like you are rehearsing the part. Either way you are developing your sense of timing, rhythm, aural, and spatial capabilities. Don’t stop.

The next time you are having a conversation — a dialogue — with a friend or friends, try this: quote lines from a movie that piqued your interest, and see if your friends will reply with either a line from that movie or a different movie, but representing the same train of thought.

You can have a conversation just quoting movie lines — and they don’t have to be in the same order. It can be your own mashup.

Some scriptwriters who have a very good ear for dialogue are David Mamet and Aaron Sorkin. Mamet has written many great scripts as well as Sorkin.

One favorite of mine that Mamet adapted for the silver screen is “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Its dialogue may keep you on the edge of your seat. Sorkin’s great dialogue includes “A Few Good Men,” The West Wing,” “Sports Night,” and “The Social Network.” Sorkin also adapted “To Kill A Mocking Bird,” for the stage.

Try this mashup: The scene in Glengarry Glen Ross where the sales agents are told they have one week to sell their assigned properties or they are fired, and the final courtroom scene in “A Few Good Men.” It would be interesting what transpires.

Remember that dialogue also is writing — just in a different form.

So go on and practice your dialogue writing, but remember to include some narration to connect your dialogue otherwise you are telling and not showing.

It’s that easy.

It’s that hard.

I would appreciate any feedback that you may want to share.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today