Yesterday I talked about how characters from television inspire my writing. Today, I’m going to talk about dialogue.
Screenwriters have it tougher than novelists, I think. They don’t have the luxury of showing internal thought. They have to depend on dialogue to both keep the story moving and present the information they need to get to the audience. Even in the darkest shows, like, say Battlestar Galactica, the writers infuse some lightness in the dialogue to relieve the tension.
The master of all dialogue is Joss Whedon. No show is as quotable as Buffy, except maybe Firefly.
From Buffy. Both of these are excellent sketches of the characters who said them.
“I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.” --Xander
"I'm the Slay-er.Chosen one? She who hangs out a lot at cemeteries...? 'In every genera----' You know. I really don't feel like doing the routine. Ask around. Look it up: 'Slayer comma The.' " –Buffy
From Firefly, just because I think it’s hilarious.
“This will be interesting.”
“’Oh, God, oh God, we’re all gonna die.’”
“Mercy is the mark of a great man. Guess I’m just a good man.”
Gilmore Girls is another. The sexual tension in this show between Luke and Lorelei built from the first episode to the first kiss.
Lorelai: Is this like a Mafia thing?
Luke: Excuse me?
Lorelai: The whole coming in, special table, reserved sign. Are you gonna have to whack someone before the soup course?
Luke: No, I've filled my whacking quota for the week. [cringes] Dirty?
Lorelai: [wicked grin] Extremely.
Luke: Thought so.
Lorelai: I just broke up with someone.
Lorelai: We'd been dating for a few months now.
Luke: I figured there was someone in the picture.
Lorelai: You did? How?
Luke: Just clues. You know, you never dressed weather-appropriate, that kind of thing.
Luke: Rory's not here yet.
Lorelai: Then you'll have to entertain me until she arrives. Okay Burger boy, dance.
Luke: Will you marry me?
[Lorelai is taken aback]
Luke: Just looking for something to shut you up.
Supernatural uses dialogue to illustrate characters so clearly, shows their toughness and vulnerability.
"Does anyone have a breath mint? Some guts spilled in my mouth while I was killing my way in here."
"You're piercing the veil, Dean, glimpsing the "b" side."
"Little less New Agey, please."
"You're almost hell's bitch, so you can see hell's other bitches."
“A couple of severed heads and a pile of dead cows and you’re Mr. Sunshine.”
“You got a neighbor named Mr. Rogers?”
Dialogue needs to illustrate character and move the story forward, not just be cute. A writer needs to make every word count.
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