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Old 09-24-2009, 09:09 AM   #136
RonaldMontgomery
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In Dreams With Sharp Teeth Harlan Ellison talks about watching Judge Judy to keep his ear tuned to dialect and slang.

I ride the city bus. Not a lot of white people ride, it's mainly African-American, and it's taught me a lot about how white people are viewed and about African-American culture. The first thing: you have to ride so much that people start ignoring you.
I keep a notebook that I write down my bus and train arrival and departure times, ideas, and conversations I hear and see. I joked with Chris yesterday that I'm a mass transit ethnographer.

I've witnessed two conversations at different times recently that bring up really deep ideas about race and self-perception. Like last week, a woman got mad at the driver, and she told him, "Don't make me go black on your ass. See, I'm a nice person. I'm not like that."

This morning, another woman was talking to the same driver about growing up in California and moving to Missouri, and getting shit for how she talked: "Don't be telling me I'm talking white. I'm sick of hearing that. I know that's right."

In these cases, I find the context powerful. I try to capture exact words and sentences, because I think even the structure is betraying of race, class, worldview, self-perception, etc.
I really don't have strong feelings about the content, I don't think that's helpful for observation. I do think a lot of people writing dialogue for people who live outside their own life experience try to capture flavor (flava) with exact spellings as spoken (spellin'), but that misses the point and is distracting.

When I lived in Germany, no one talked to the bus drivers in my city. No one really talked to each other, for that matter. I came home and found the natural gregariousness of my bus route riders so refreshing.
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Old 09-24-2009, 11:01 AM   #137
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"In Dreams With Sharp Teeth Harlan Ellison talks about watching Judge Judy to keep his ear tuned to dialect and slang."

oh , that's just sad. no wonder harlan ellison sounds like he's the hep talking cat from '52. and has for years.

now, riding the bus, that's real. you'll get something there if you listen.
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Old 09-24-2009, 11:06 AM   #138
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Originally Posted by chris stevens
oh , that's just sad. no wonder harlan ellison sounds like he's the hep talking cat from '52. and has for years.
It was a decent documentary. My wife, who hated him, came away feeling much better about him.
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Old 09-24-2009, 03:15 PM   #139
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Dialogue is always my worry and is not a strong point. Which is why I wanted to do this exercise. With that caveat out of the way, here we go.

I'd construct the scene/page so that Baldwin is the only one who speaks (until right at the end). I'd make the panels quite small and have more than average on the page (twelve).

Baldwin's dialogue would therefore be the dominant presence on the page (along with Baldwin himself), overpowering it in a way. The dialogue itself would also take up a chunk of the panel. Hopefully it'd produce a kind of claustrophobic, overpowering atmosphere. Baldwin is going for total verbal and physical domination here.

I would also want Baldwin to be moving in every panel, be it a motion with his hands, a movement of his head whilst Joe remains static. This would put across the idea that Baldwin is operating on a different level than this guy. Quicker and smarter.


1)
The workshop area of a garage. The walls are lined with racks of tires and spare parts. The whole place has a grubby, grimy feel to it. On the left side of the panel is Baldwin, his expensive suit and haircut are a strong contrast to the surroundings and the guy he's talking to. This guy (we'll call him Joe) is dressed in jeans and a plain white t-shirt spattered with oil and paint stains. Baldwin is waving an invoice in front of Joe's face.

Behind them a mechanic works on a Hyundai with its bonnet popped open.

BALDWIN- What is this? You behind on alimony? You want more money? Go earn it. You're wasting my time.

2)
Joe has his mouth open. He's about to speak. Baldwin raises a hand to cut him off.

BALDWIN - It's not the clutch, we both know that. You're messing with me. You hear me?

BALDWIN 2- Right now you're fucking me. I have places to be.

3)
Baldwin has produced an expensive Cartier pen from his breast pocket. He wags it close to Joe's face.

BALDWIN - You found yourself in a situation. You're broke. Money's drying up and you don't know what to do.

BALDWIN 2- You got problems. You're behind on a few things. So here's what you do. Take a pen. Not this one.

4)
The mechanic in the background has stopped what he is doing and is looking towards Baldwin and Joe. Joe looks confused. Baldwin still has his finger pointed at Joe.

BALDWIN- You take a pen and you follow all those problems back. Trace it all right back. You know where you'll find yourself? High school.

BALDWIN 2- You remember high school? Wait, don't answer.You wanna know what I remember about high school?

5)
Baldwin jerks a thumb towards himself.

BALDWIN- Running the hundred quicker than anyone else, throwing further than anyone else and getting laid more than anyone else.

6)
Joe tries to raise a hand in defense to cut Baldwin off. Baldwin is having none of it.

BALDWIN- What do you think of? When you trace all of this back with that pen, what do you see? What do you remember?

7)
Baldwin starts to fold the invoice. The mechanic in the background scratches his head in confusion. What the fuck is this guys deal?

BALDWIN- I'll tell you. You remember being off some place getting high. You remember getting drunk off cheap beer on the football field after dark.

8)
Baldwin folds the invoice again, forming the invoice into a triangle.

BALDWIN- But most of all? Most of all you oily schmuck-- most of all you remember skipping class and thinking the world owed you a fucking living.

9)
The paper in Baldwin's hands is starting to take a recognizable shape, a plane.

BALDWIN- Best days of our lives? Fuck you. That time's long gone for you. Me? I'm in the prime of my life.

10)
Baldwin puts the final touches to his plane. Joe looks like he may burst into tears at any second.

BALDWIN- So here's the plan, time to get on board with it, all right? I'm only going to say it once friend.

11)
Baldwin throws the paper plane over Joe's shoulder. The mechanic in the background walks in the planes direction wiping his hands with a rag.

BALDWIN- Walk back into your office. Walk not run. You think about what I've said, then you come back out here with something real.

BALDWIN 2- Okay?

JOE- Uh. . . mister. . .

12)

Joe raises his hands in surrender, scared out of his mind. Baldwin looks like he is about to blow a gasket.

JOE- I don't work here.
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Old 09-24-2009, 11:42 PM   #140
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Dan - I will get to your script...

I just wanted to say anyone who wants to study how dialog defines and develops a character they should start watching Dexter. I just started the third season...what a show.
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Old 09-25-2009, 02:04 PM   #141
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrod
This scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTDhgR3p12w but move it to a health care town hall meeting.
My Old Man character is a very deliberate speaker, in the fashion of a person who feels they must compensate for a perceived lack of education. I'm also drawing on a high school math teacher, who was never wrong and loved to talk about Tom Clancy and how we were all thoughtless schmoes.

Scene: A healthcare town hall in the midwest. A Democratic Congressman was speaking to a small crowd, some hold signs, both for and against healthcare reform. Near the front of the crowd an older man has interrupted the congressman.

Old Man: You people in Washington spent all our money giving CEOs big bonuses and now there's nothing left. But that wasn't enough -- now you want us paying again, this time for some inner city girl to have abortions, and we won't -- we won't do it.

Congressman: We're not paying for anyone to --

Old Man: I grew up poor. My wife and I raised seven children on one income.
Old Man: I'm not sipping martinis on a golf course. I still work every day at my business.
Old Man: There were sacrifices along the way, but that's how it was back then.

Congressman: Sir, if you'd just --

Old Man: Thank God for my freedom of speech. That's one thing you people haven't taken away -- yet.

Congressman: Please, let me --

Old Man: We've had enough listening.

Person One (agreeing): Yeah!

Person Two (agreeing):Right on!

Old Man: Our forefathers knew how to run this country. Maybe we need to bring back the old ways.

Congressman (thought): ...like public duels?
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:32 PM   #142
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Teach,

1. Going back to panels...I'm re-reading Abel and Madden's book, and Chapter 11 deals with panel design. I think it's great reading.
Do you have an opinion on the book in general?

2. My wife asked me today why a comic book named Infinite Crisis was only seven issues.
I thought that was a good question... Does anyone write about bad names for comic book?

3. Speaking of magazines...I didn't know Google books had the old Life mags for download. Here's one I was browsing:
http://books.google.com/books?id=TlY...age&q=&f=false
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Old 09-25-2009, 11:51 PM   #143
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Couple of things, Dan, and I'm two margaritas, a half-liter of Bordeaux, and lady time against the night so if I'm off, I'm off.

First - the dialog hits Baldwin's beats well. When I was reading it, I was thinking, "This is too on the nose" but that was the point of this exercise so...

However, it's too on the nose.

Or too much of his tangential speak, not enough of his "motivational" speak. Baldwin thinks he's smarter than everyone else and he has cash-money-bling to prove it but we don't really have the proof, here - here he just sounds like a dick. But it certainly SOUNDS like Baldwin and that's what you were supposed to do so I'd certainly give you a B+ on this, mainly because I don't want to inflate your ego too much.

It sounds natural, too - I can picture the guy saying this. Everything terse and to the point, a good letterer would split a lot of these into multiple balloons to capture the rigidity of the conversation and to push the mechanic out more.

Good job, my man - you did good here.
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Old 09-25-2009, 11:55 PM   #144
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Ronald - I like the scene, it's funny - I think one thing you might have missed is the desperation in the man's voice. In 12 ANGRY MEN (one of my top-three movies of all-time, by the way) our last angry man isn't just angry - he's desperate. He feels like he's the last sane one in the room and he just doesn't understand how it's even possible that nobody in that room can see things his way. He's practically begging.

I think your old man is too deliberate - his dialog is too perfect. No pauses, no gathering of thoughts - just spitting out what reads like a pre-planned speech. Try to make it more spontaneous and I think you'll have it.
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Old 09-26-2009, 12:01 AM   #145
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldMontgomery
Teach,

1. Going back to panels...I'm re-reading Abel and Madden's book, and Chapter 11 deals with panel design. I think it's great reading.
Do you have an opinion on the book in general?

2. My wife asked me today why a comic book named Infinite Crisis was only seven issues.
I thought that was a good question... Does anyone write about bad names for comic book?

3. Speaking of magazines...I didn't know Google books had the old Life mags for download. Here's one I was browsing:
http://books.google.com/books?id=TlY...age&q=&f=false
1. I think Abel and Madden's "Drawing Words and Writing PIctures" is fantastic. I liken it to the workbook for Understanding Comics. Also fantastic is Madden's "99 ways To Tell A Story" and, basically, everything Jessica Abel has done (I'm a pretty big fan)

2. I think I learned everything I've ever needed to know about bad comic book names by browsing these forums. There are some GROANERS. I'm saying this and I'm THE NICE editor.

3. That spaceman got mad trim.
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Old 09-26-2009, 03:30 AM   #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrod
Couple of things, Dan, and I'm two margaritas, a half-liter of Bordeaux, and lady time against the night so if I'm off, I'm off.

First - the dialog hits Baldwin's beats well. When I was reading it, I was thinking, "This is too on the nose" but that was the point of this exercise so...

However, it's too on the nose.

Or too much of his tangential speak, not enough of his "motivational" speak. Baldwin thinks he's smarter than everyone else and he has cash-money-bling to prove it but we don't really have the proof, here - here he just sounds like a dick. But it certainly SOUNDS like Baldwin and that's what you were supposed to do so I'd certainly give you a B+ on this, mainly because I don't want to inflate your ego too much.

It sounds natural, too - I can picture the guy saying this. Everything terse and to the point, a good letterer would split a lot of these into multiple balloons to capture the rigidity of the conversation and to push the mechanic out more.

Good job, my man - you did good here.

Dialogue is always a worry for me so I'll take a B+


The 'Drawing Words and Writing Pictures' book is around here somewhere (It's my girlfriends). Looks like I should take a look, eh?
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Old 09-26-2009, 10:31 AM   #147
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrod
Ronald - I like the scene, it's funny - I think one thing you might have missed is the desperation in the man's voice. In 12 ANGRY MEN (one of my top-three movies of all-time, by the way) our last angry man isn't just angry - he's desperate. He feels like he's the last sane one in the room and he just doesn't understand how it's even possible that nobody in that room can see things his way. He's practically begging.

I think your old man is too deliberate - his dialog is too perfect. No pauses, no gathering of thoughts - just spitting out what reads like a pre-planned speech. Try to make it more spontaneous and I think you'll have it.
Emotional subtlety...yes, I need to work on that.

Gotcha!

Thanks, Teach!
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Old 09-26-2009, 11:53 AM   #148
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...or think about it this way:

The best advice I ever read about character writing is...nobody does more than they think they need to do to get what they want.

In 12 Angry Men, at the beginning, the Lee J. Cobb character is perfectly reasonable and affable; he thinks the other eleven are with him.

As they continue to defect to "not guilty," he becomes increasingly desperate, but this isn't about subtlety; it's about understanding that this character, with each changing aspect of the vote, is STILL doing what he thinks he needs to do to get what he wants...even if it involves becoming increasingly agitated, and ultimately begging.

And WHY? Because (if I remember correctly) the kid on trial reminds him of his son who abandoned him, and he wants to get even.

For those not familiar with the "nobody does more than they think they need to do to get what they want" theory of character motivation, it comes from Robert McKee, and it's such a valuable touchstone...even for crazy or obsessed people.

For example, if somebody's scared to death of cracks in the pavement, they're going to do whatever is necessary to avoid them.

It's simple. It's clear. It's applicable.

It also explains the "stupid Lex Luthor" problem of times past. If Lex Luthor REALLY just wanted money, why would he build a destructo-ray to break into a bank, when he could make a fortune selling it to the U.S. government?

So, the "rule" works for writing AND analysis.

--Lee
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:12 AM   #149
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Attention Class

Dr. JRod is..ahemmm...out today on court-mandated community service. Throw him a cigarette when you pass his work crew on the highway.

In the meantime, I read a nice little article on setting:

http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=...=blog&id=57805

Hope you like it!!!

...

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Old 09-29-2009, 01:34 PM   #150
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldMontgomery
Dr. JRod is..ahemmm...out today on court-mandated community service. Throw him a cigarette when you pass his work crew on the highway.

In the meantime, I read a nice little article on setting:

http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=...=blog&id=57805

Hope you like it!!!

...


I'm reading threads...waiting for someone else to take a hack at these movies or waiting for you to do a rewrite.

I can't talk into a void all day, despite how it may look sometimes.
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