What’s In a Dialogue Choice Anyway?

What’s In a Dialogue Choice Anyway?

There is a saying in screenwriting:

‘No line is worth a scene, and no scene is worth a film.’

It literally means that you should cut any line that works against the thrust of the scene it’s in, regardless of how ‘good’ or ‘cool’ it is, and that you should cut any scene that doesn’t serve the movie as a whole. It is a reminder to keep your eyes on the big picture.

It is good advice and one I often need reminding of. The writer’s most emotionally urgent work, the work that feels the most like progress, happens in the body of the text: in the lines of a script or the body of a novel. That is where the writer’s tiny, monstrous obsessions rear their heads: rhythm, syntax, or the deliciousness of certain words (I’m looking at you lurking, and utterly). It’s the nitty-gritty, the line-by-line where we usually get bogged down, where we need to be reminded of the bigger picture.

Continue reading “What’s In a Dialogue Choice Anyway?”