ENGL2920 Lecture 9: Week 9
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Week 9: Speech
- Adds to the readers knowledge of the situation
-Keep the piece moving forward
-Reveals something about the speaker’s personality, both directly and indirectly (through subtext i.e
what is not being said)
-Dramatizes the relationships between characters
-Not necessarily realistic, you want to make it sound natural but it doesn’t mean that it is natural. Pay
attention to the lengths of the sentences so it sounds like the kind of thing that a person could say in a
single breath. Vary the length. Make it consciously ungrammatical, the way people really do speak.
-Good dialogue needs to be extremely specific. Avoid having characters talking in abstractions and
generalities such as, “I think I’m in love with you darling.”
-Each character should speak differently, have a distinct way of phrasing, distinct opinions
-Dialogue for a specific character can change depending on:
1. Who are they speaking to? (Friend vs. grandmother)
2. Is the character in a private or public place?
3. The mood of the speaker, if they are angry they might say harsh things they wouldn’t usually
say. If they are frightened they might try to placate.
What Dialogue is Not
1. Not an important source of facts about a piece
2. Not good for describing people, places or objects
3. Not a substitute for direct narrative. If you have basic facts to supply to the reader but it in narrative,
avoid “empty scenes”
4. It should not be used for extended brooding by a character
*Put part of the monologue in and then summarize it
*Monologue’s are easier to sustain on stage or in a movie
5 Important Tips
1. Gesture is a part of dialogue
*Use gesture to show how things are being said, we seldom sit frozen while we talk to one
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