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Expert screenwriting tips by working screenwriters

Expositional Dialogue

Expositional dialogue tells us something about the story or characters but in an unnatural way. We find such dialogue in many of the scripts we receive. The readers employed by prodcos hate such dialogue, it's the sign of a non-professional writer.

Why do novice screenwriters use it? Because they want to explain something or convey something to the reader that is important about the story or a character. Unfortunately expositional dialogue simply sounds fake - it kills realism.

Always assume your reader is intelligent - they can often work things out for themselves. If you don't, you're doing them and yourself a disservice. If you clearly explain EVERYTHING, you're going to do yourself no favors with prodco readers.

Expositional dialogue is a lazy technique - sure it gets your point across but in a poor way that has a negative impact on your script and your reader's perception of your screenwriting ability.

Avoid expositional dialogue, there's always a better way - take some time, think. Does the point need to be made clear? Could a reader not assume it? Can you get the point across via using another scene or sub-text? Maybe some dialogue hints thrown in during other scenes?

Some examples from non-pro scripts taken from the web (not submitted to us):


I'm going to kill you because my father died in prison because of you.



The President believes you're the best man for the job. You're the smartest we have. Hell you have postgrad degrees from Stanford and Oxford. And your Special Forces experience will be invaluable.



Why? Because your folks died in that fire back in '07'? It wasn't me. You've always blamed me but it had nothing to do with me. It was an accident.

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