Compression (Dialogue)


So what are the key characteristics of screen dialogue, compared with real life conversation? The first is compression. Use the least number of words required to convey your meaning. Remember that movies are a visual medium. The imagery can spell things out without having to resort to endless dialogue. For example, let’s replace this: life used to be a lot easier before the big game of ’92, I had a promising career in baseball in front of me until I broke my leg in that fateful championship game with a cutaway shot of a framed photograph of our protagonist in baseball gear at a large stadium game, the addition of a walking cane in the shot, and a tight line of dialogue: things were a whole lot easier…back before, well you know. We have less of the specifics of exactly what happened, but the audience can infer the important details, and we’re using a lot less dialogue. In fact, the more dialogue you write, the less impact each line will have on an audience.

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