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.
Last Friday, the last Brother typewriter manufactured in the UK rolled off the assembly line, thus marking the end of an era.
I remember the thrill of getting my first typewriter. My grandmother took me to a dusty store near the Plaza Bolívar and bought me a manual model that sported an ñ, a ¿, and an ¡. I can’t remember the manufacturer, but I do remember typing a lot of my term papers on it. I lived dangerously, waiting until the last day before the deadline and then I’d dedicate the entire night to writing them. The clackety-clack of the keys hitting the paper was hypnotic and released all of my ideas, while the annoyance of correcting errors — having to roll the paper up a few inches and getting just the right amount of white-out on the little brush so that it would dry quickly and not leave an ugly gob on the page –, kept me focused. Some years later my stepfather bought me an electric model which, thankfully, was not altogether silent. The rhythm shaped my sentences, giving them a hard-boiled musicality that made me feel a little like Hammett. Of course, with time I graduated to the computer keyboard, but I still missed the musicality of typed prose.
You don’t want to be that guy who writes cookie-cutter women. As a good writer you want ALL your characters to be real, believable, and relatable. After all, the more your audience identifies with your fictional peeps, the more captivated they’ll be by your story.
I know it’s a challenge, but just because you only have one X chromosome doesn’t mean you can’t breathe life into your women. Other male writers were able to pull this off back when most men considered women lesser creatures and hardly bothered to care about what we were thinking. The effort can be rewarding. Just ask Flaubert. Emma Bovary is such a compellingly human character that he went down into the annals of literary greatness. So here are some tips: