Experienced actors cede whole passages of dialogue to novices--preferring to react to the lines rather than speak them. This comes from the agony of watching themselves on screen droning on and on unnecessarily.

Pare screenplay dialogue down to essentials:

  • replace "yes" and "no" with nods or shrugs.
  • start scenes late and end them early, cutting introductory or wrap-up dialogue.
  • eliminate the first words in a line of dialogue, e.g., "well", "I mean", "you see", a character's name, etc. This may feel clumsy at first, but it goes a long way toward achieving good clean dialogue.

Relay meaning where possible and appropriate with actions not with words, and this visual medium will reward you.

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