Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Today over at The Rouge Wave Julie talks about repetition of words in your script. You know, when you use the same language over and over again. I can relate to this problem, especially the part where your characters use the same words.

In Not Dead Yet I had a tendency to have every single character say "Jesus!" or "Christ!" to express frustrated alarm. I had no idea I'd done it this much until Ex-Boyfriend pointed it out to me.

In my current script my two leads are a white woman and a Latino boy, so it's been easy to make them sound the same, but I've had to really focus on giving the kids different personalities. I don't speak Spanish, but the kids speak Spanglish, so to make sure the dialogue sounds authentic but still makes sense to English speakers, I've been using a lot of slang nicknames int he dialogue.

For example, I call everybody "huey" (pronounced "way" and meaning something like dumbass or asshole) at least once. My kids call each other that all the time. I used to have this one kid who mumbled so much he barely ever said anything that made sense, except he used to yell "Hey, huey!" all the time. So his nickname became Hey Huey.

But that doesn't mean every kid uses it all the time. Still, in my script, everybody throws that word around almost as much as they say "fuck."

It's difficult to keep track of that when you're rolling through dialogue scenes, so I started doing something on the last script that I found enormously helpful in fixing this problem. As I read through the script for the third or fourth time, I try to read it as one character only. I read most characters as if I'm listening to them, then when I get to his lines I say them in character. That way I develop his voice with a little more clarity, and I notice when another character sounds too much like him. Sometimes I even switch the lines around when I realize the dialogue sounds more natural coming from another character's mouth.

I'm a big believer in going back and fixing stuff anyway. While some people agonize over that first draft and stop and start and go back and fiddle with scenes over and over before they're finished - I plop down a lot of crap and leave myself little "This sucks ass" notes. I find it a lot easier to go back and fix stuff once you know the whole story. So it should be easy for me to go through the script and make sure one Latino kid doesn't sound exactly like another Latino kid, because no matter what people say, they are not all alike.

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