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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

From the Mailbag

Dear Mistress of Coolness -

- Okay you guys were never going to buy that, were you? Fine.-

Dear Wave-inatrix:

I just started reading your web site a few weeks ago and really appreciate it. I'm still working through the coolestfilmsites. I really enjoyed your essay on rhythm (Music in Writing) with your example from David Mamet. While you are on this topic, I'm wondering about the difference between dialogue on the page versus actually being spoken. When I read what I've written, it always sounds great in my head, and also when I read it aloud, but I have a feeling that's like having your mother tell you how talented you are. I'm hoping you can write a few words on this topic. Thanks for your great web site.
-Wondering in Williamsburg

Dear Wondering -

You need a table read, my friend! If you don't have access to my free SAG all volunteer table read, do this - get some of your friends together and have an impromptu table read to see how your dialogue sounds. Choose a pivotal scene and give your friends the upshot of the scene and the script itself. Give each person a quick bio of the character he or she will be reading. Young, old, bitter, excited, upset - whatever. One person needs to be the narrator (the one reading the action lines). That can be you but it might be harder to focus on hearing the how the dialogue sounds and also, hearing how the action lines sound can be illuminating too.

Make sure the friends you ask are hep cats - hep to movies and screenwriting - somewhat. Sometimes even well meaning friends can sound pretty wooden because they are self-conscious. You don't want that. You want people to take it seriously and to go for it. Don't feel bad if your dialogue is not the greatest right now - good dialogue takes time to get a feel for. Bribe some good friends with beer and hotwings and host yourself a table read party. It does wonders.

Oh and thank you for the compliment on the Rouge Wave. The Wave-inatrix, she tries real darn hard to make it a fun place to be. Rock on, Wondering!

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1 comment:

Seth said...

Hey, this is true! I've actually done this, and even if they're only community theatre actors or people just willing to go for it, it works pretty well.

Also, if you work in the independent world, holding auditions really tests your script for you. Can forty different people come into the room and read a page of your script cold and figure out the "stakes" in your scene? For that matter, can you, the writer, explain it to them? A sobering process.

By the way, I just found this blog -- nice stuff.