On the nose dialogue

bad dialogue

Hai guys ♥

So there’s something I struggle with quite a bit and it’s something writers often talk about: on the nose dialogue!

There’s this unspoken rule in screenwriting that we as writers are never to tell the audience what exactly is going on in the protagonist’s head. The character cannot express their feelings or tell their story in a straight forward manner – it has to be subtle and often hidden within dialogue and action.

For example, if a character is struggling with their identity they won’t say, “I don’t know who I am or what I want”, instead they will probably contradict themselves, be incapable of making decisions and become defensive when people question his/her life.

That’s all well and good.

But does that always apply?
Does it depend on the characters and the script?
& must it apply throughout the entire story?
I’m not 100% sure.

In Frozen Lake, the two main characters, Maya and Afon, are complete strangers who meet about 10 pages into the script.

Both of their pasts, especially Afon’s, are complete mysteries, only slowly being revealed throughout the story as they learn more about each other. So naturally the dialogue shifts as the story goes on & near the end the dialogue can be described as “on the nose”.

Is that me wanting to finally let the audience in on who these characters are?
Or is this me thinking “omg, it’s about to end! Quick give the reader a bone!”?
Or have not allowed enough time for these characters’ personalities, pasts and dreams to become evident?

I’m really unsure.

There are times where I make a point of avoiding dialogue that’s on the nose. Trying to make the characters say or do things that suggest a certain emotion or personality trait without actually stating it.
However this sometimes makes scenes drag, feel pointless or just be down right confusing.

But maybe that’s the problem?
Maybe I’m thinking too much about it and it’s losing its naturalness?


I do think that dialogue must progress and change throughout a script, that we can’t always replace spoken feelings with actions.
But I also agree that stating the obvious and not allowing the reader breathing room to think and interpret your character’s dialogue and actions is a bad idea.

There’s probably a middle ground somewhere?
I hope I find it soon! ★
PS. A part of my soul died writing that example of “on the nose dialogue” at the beginning.
PSS. Though having said that, reading it aloud was quite funny.
PSSS. Maybe the beginning of a comedy script?
PSSSS. Or not.
PSSSSS. Stop overthiking, Jaz.

Bye ♪




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