Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I consider myself pretty good at writing dialogue but after reading Rib Davis' WRITING DIALOGUE FOR SCRIPTS I'm determined to become even better at it.
The best book on dialogue I've read so far.

In his book Rib discusses all aspects of dialogue and how they are affected in screenplays; from characters' agendas, to tone, pace and conflict. He explores in great deal how a characters' background, environment, age, thoughts, views and job all contributed to how they speak. For me this was the best part of the book, the most interesting and informative, and it has certainly made me think more about my own dialogue and how I approach it.

I now realise even though my dialogue is pretty good I've only really begun to scratch the surface of it and to make my writing stand out more than others' I'm going to have to work harder at it. Rib has shown me there is a lot more to dialogue than simply making it sound good, it also has to sound authentic, and to do it right requires a certain amount of research.

The second subject I found interesting was the difference between naturalistic, non-naturalistic and highly stylised dialogue, and how each of them worked best in different formats and genres. It was also helpful to have examples, to see by tweaking who was talking and when, how the words spoken could change and have a greater impact.

The latter half of the book deals with other types of scripts, most notably radio plays and theatre. I felt this section was a little light and maybe could have been explored in greater detail in a separate book, as Rib seemed to skim over so much, in contrast to the detail he went into in the first section.

On reflection this is a great book even though I think it should have concentrated on TV and film screenplays specifically, with a separate volume dedicated to radio and theatre dialogue. Everyone, even if you think your dialogue is good, should read this, as there's always room for improvement.

I'd give this book 3 out of 5.

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