San Francisco Screenwriting Group Message Board › Aposiopesis
San Francisco, CA
I admit it; I’m fanatical when it comes to the quality of dialogue found in the stories we write. When I read a screenplay by an inexperienced new writer (the group most commonly guilty of excruciating dialogue), I often find dialogue that is ‘on the nose’.
What does it mean? Essentially, it’s when a character is speaking precisely how they’re feeling or thinking, without room for the reader/audience to fill in the blanks when it comes to a particular character’s emotions, thoughts, and so forth. Blocks of dialogue loaded with full sentences and even entire paragraphs consisting of full and complete thoughts. Oh, the horror of it all.
Why is this so bad? Well, for one thing, picture the scene playing out on-screen: what’s more interesting, including subtlety into a conversation, or having two people explain everything for us? For the vast majority of audiences, the latter of those two options can be uninteresting, dull, cliché, sappy, and a host of other negative results. Not to mention the fact it doesn’t give proper justice to the complexity of your characters or, for heavens sake, our language.
Have any of you writers heard of the term ‘aposiopesis’? The exact meaning refers to a breaking-off of a speech pattern. It is writing as people really speak. Aposiopesis bespeaks of psychological inner conflict. The very term ‘psychological inner conflict’ should make every screenwriter’s blood pressure rise. The conflicted might be described as saying, “I want to say this but at the same time, I don’t.” It’s your character’s sudden thinking better of his rant in order to get down to business. It reveals colloquial humanness.
And, oh baby, I am always going for colloquial humanness,