As writers, we all have to learn to hear criticism. This can be tough at first, given that we see our writing as a reflection of ourselves; hate my writing, hate me, we seem to think. However, when I took my first writing workshop many years ago, I found it hardest to figure out what to say about a fellow writer’s stories. Most of the time, all I knew was that I either liked or disliked the piece, but figuring out why was difficult. Slowly, I learned how to give back feedback, but it wasn’t until grad school that I heard an instructor give any useful advice on the subject; basically, he said that a useful critique is not a value judgment, but an honest observation about a piece.
In honor of Woody Allen’s 77th birthday, what began as the idea for a few links to my favorite sequences from his movies morphed into a longer series of posts. So here is my take on the flicks of a veteran filmmaker.
One of the hallmarks of a good script is great dialogue. While it’s true that you have to have an ear for it, it’s also true that it is a skill like any other. So, even if you’re no Preston Sturges and regardless of your innate ability, you can exercise that muscle and improve.
A good place to start is to analyze what makes bad dialogue. We all know it when we hear it, but identifying why it doesn’t work is a great place to start.