But if it's so easy to get it right, why all the crappy lines?
- Writers often write what they want the characters to say, instead of what the characters WOULD say. Writers need to live with their character and stay true to the character and the world, the circumstances and the genre he's in.
- Writers often put dialogue in the character's mouth to serve the plot. But, whatever the plot, the character just needs to stay true within his world. We're writers, should be easy enough for us to imagine ourselves into other worlds, other characters, right?
- Writers also often spell out what a character feels - the good ole "on the nose". There are so many brilliant ways of expressing emotion without saying "I love you", "I missed you", "I hate you", etc. And yeah - ideally those ways involve zero dialogue. Remember - an ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words.
- And then we have our dear friend Mr. Exposition. If it feels like exposition, it invariably sucks. I know, we do need exposition and there are good ways of "getting away with it" - just read a good blog about it here.
You may need to be Sorkin, Mamet or Tarantino to deliver the films they deliver. But you don't need their obvious gifts to write good dialogue. Just be honest - with yourself, with your characters - and listen to them! Those are real people in your script - you, the scribe, you observe and write down what happens to them.
Finally, as good as you think you may be with dialogue - act it out. Do it yourself, speak your dialogue (you'll be surprised how often your tongue will trip and stumble!) - and get an actor circle to read your script. Again - listen!
And to all of those who say that "real" equals boring - yeah, I'll give you that. Films are, as we all know, life with the boring bits cut out ... look at dialogue the same way. Be real, then cut out the boring stuff.