Theater Masks

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Dialogue vs. Story

Watched the premiere of Flash Forward last night and LOVED it -- despite the dialogue. The story is absolutely compelling, the premise if fascinating, the acting is -- good to very good, and the dialogue - well, the dialogue needs some work. There were scenes that pulled me right of the show because the lines were so awkwardly worded that, despite the fact that we're dealing with sci-fi, I kept thinking "no one would EVER say that!" Fortunately the idea of the show and the promise of the story to come was plenty strong enough to sustain my interest despite this, but I really hope they figure out how to create better dialogue and soon.

Dialogue can make or break a TV show or movie at times (a strong enough story can survive weak dialogue to a degree, but weak dialogue will KILL anything that isn't at the top of its game story-wise), and I think that's just as true in writing, if not more so. At least with visual media we have an actor who can get us past some of the dialogue provided they're talented enough, but if it's left to our own imagination? I don't know how other people read necessarily, but I always "act out" scenes in my head. If the dialogue feels forced or not realistic (I'm looking at you, Dan Brown) then I'm pulled out of the story instantly. I'm sure I'm guilty of writing a clunker line or two of dialogue myself, but the episode emphasized for me just how important it is to make sure what characters say sounds as natural as possible.

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