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Classical Storytelling and Contemporary Screenwriting by Brian Price

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Thirty-OneDialogue Continued

Still More Left to Say

“Character and thought are merely obscured by a diction that is over brilliant.”

(Poetics, Part XIV)

We’ve discussed Aristotle’s biggest insights when it comes to good dialogue, that it’s always in the service of a character’s immediate goal and that it therefore has subtext.

But there remain a few more important points to make:

  1. I always bristle when I hear a student say he has a great line of dialogue, but he just doesn’t know which character to give it to. Guess what? That is not a great line of dialogue. Dialogue only works when it is precisely what a specific character would say in a specific situation to achieve a specific goal.

    So create the scene’s circumstances first, then

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