Story Tip Tuesday

Although most successful writers understand the importance of plot points and have mastered the art of telling a story through the use of action, they also know that dialogue will often be the thing that makes or breaks their career.

Some people think that when it comes to writing great dialogue, you either have it or you don’t, but I disagree. Of course there are writers who are born with a gift, and those brilliant lines seem to effortlessly spill out onto the page. I wish I was one of them, but the truth is I’m not. I’ve had to teach myself how to write strong dialogue and I truly believe that you can too!

And what better way to start than to begin to recognise what makes bad dialogue.

Bad dialogue is boring and generic. It lacks emotion and attitude and could easily belong to any character. Bad dialogue doesn’t have any strong meaning or make any important point. Bad dialogue is ‘on the nose’ and says exactly what is happening or what we as an audience probably already know. Bad dialo...

One of the most important steps to becoming a professional writer is to get yourself out there. You can be the best wordsmith, come up with the most compelling characters and stories, and write a killer script, but if you want someone to pay you for your work and produce it so that others will actually get to see it, you’re going to have to meet other people in the business – people who have a strong reputation and are actively working in the industry.

Now, I’m not saying this is an easy task, as most of these people are usually very busy. They travel a lot and have a pretty full slate. It’s hard to get them to return your e-mails and even harder to arrange a face-to-face meeting if you’re new to the game. But the great thing is, there’s another way.

We ‘Brits’ and, at least for now, we lucky members of the European Union, have the opportunity to attend several conferences and markets, and a great one is right here in the UK.

The upcoming Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield is a fant...

In a great script, nothing is wasted.

When I first began writing for TV, I had these seven little words written on cards all around my house. I looked at this sentence over and over again… while I was washing the dishes and while I brushed my teeth. I read it until it became my mantra and made it nearly impossible for me to write a sentence or line of dialogue without asking myself, “What am I trying to say?” or “How does this move the story forward?” or “Why is this important to my story?”.

Producers have often told me that my scripts really move and that my scripts hook people and keep them hooked. In fact one of the best compliments I’ve ever received was when we were in post-production on the pilot for Dead Gorgeous. I was in the edit suite working with a truly talented editor, and at one point he turned his chair around and said, “I hate you”. I was really surprised since we had such a great working relationship. But then he smiled and added, “You have left me nothing I can cut!”

I h...

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