Tips on Dialogue from a Producer


By Jason Mirch (Producer, Destructo Productions)

What makes a memorable scene tick? What is it that can cause a viewer to cheer, cry, or shout in anger? Good dialogue.

Scratch that. Great dialogue. Epic dialogue. I bet you can name a handful of iconic bits of dialogue in cinema history right now. Getting your scenes up to snuff is something that takes time, research, and a lot of patience. Producer Jason Mirch knows quite a few tips and tactics to create great dialogue. We'll share a few with you:

On Accents: With respect to writing accents, it is very hard to do convincingly and without taking the reader out of the project (especially if there are a lot of abbreviations or slang vernacular).  Some of that is ok and can certainly highlight character, but you've got to remember that your actors will also come with a vision for how the character will speak and by inserting a particular accent in the dialogue it might throw them off for choices they would like to make.

On Conflict in Dialogue: Remember that every scene has a give and take. A conflict of some sort. The subtext of your dialogue should be that conflict. The text itself will be about something else entirely. 

On Characteristics: Every character has 4 things that make them up: strengths (of character - i.e. honest, brave, loyal, etc.); talents (things a character is physically good at i.e. running, jumping, shooting, swimming); weaknesses (things a characters physically bad at); and flaws (the most important one to nail - flaws of character - hubris, selfishness, arrogance, dishonesty, etc.) 

On the Purpose of Dialogue: Your dialogue should really serve two purposes: 1) drive the narrative forward and 2) illuminating character. When you look at the scenes you've written ask yourself, is every line these characters saying doing both of those things?  And is it doing it all the time?  

Want a more intensive dive into creating memorable dialogue? Check out Jason's Webinar in the Library!

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