Stories

Archives

About Me

            Quentin Tarantino’s got a new movie coming out.  Inglorious Basterds.  So, as the world’s biggest QT fan – Hey, screw you, I am!– I’ve decided to make this blog about him.  Not really.  The art of conversational dialogue.  That’s what I love about QT, and one of the things that is so hard to do.  To write genuine dialogue that flows and sounds true.  Conversational speaking between two people that has nothing to do with the overall plot of the story, but at the same time doesn’t distract or ramble.  Think about it.  How many movies or books have entertained you, but the dialogue between the characters in some way is related to the story?  Or, in reverse is so inane and pointless that you say “Who cares?”  It’s a tough balance.  And, I think no one does it like QT.  I can recite the “Hash Bar” scene from Pulp Fiction with every syllable and pause.  Now, you’ll say, but it does come back in the story.  True, but when it does, it’s abruptly ended with Mia’s line: “Why would you?”  It’s hard to stray from your story without straying from your story.  I’ve always said that once I create a character what they do is beyond my control.  I create the situation, but how they respond to it is entirely up to them.  I was explaining this to someone and they said that my thinking was irresponsible.  I beg to differ.  The characters are how you make them.  For them to act in a manner of your choosing is not having them be true to themselves.  If you want them to behave in a certain way, then you need to tailor the situation to make them do so.  This is never more true when it comes to dialogue.  Take for example the movie Punisher: Warzone.  Now I realize we are moving to the complete opposite side of the spectrum from QT, but bear with me.  Warzone was utter crap, I won’t lie.  It was freakin’ Citizen Kane compared to the Spirit, but I won’t go into that.  Frank Miller’s a great writer, and every one’s allow to have an off night, or two.  Back to my point…  The scenes in Warzone with the Punisher were well done.  The character himself was handled very well.  He was always true to the character in his words and his actions.  He never betrayed who he was for the sake of moving the story in a particular fashion.  Now, the story itself forced him to veer a little off track now and again, but it was never the character himself.  Speaking of getting off track…  So, dialogue.  It’s hard.  You’d have to straddle the line between schizophrenia and normalcy to be able to give every one you’ve ever written their own distinct voice.  The trick isn’t to make each completely different, but to make what they say sound true to who you say they are.  So, what about me?  It’s a struggle.  Sometimes is very easy, and others it’s very hard.  But it all ties in to everything else.  Take for example when picking your voice for the story.  Even though your story may be told from a third person POV, you still force the view through your main character.  The story isn’t told completely unbiased.  You filter it through the person you need to achieve the effect you want.  Dialogue is easy to do for these people.  Why?  Because this person is fully formed in your mind.  You know everything about them.  You know exactly which buttons to push.  Essentially, it’s the same with the others.  You don’t have to know them as well, but you need to know what it takes to make them respond in the manner that you want.  So, what does this have to do with non-plot driven dialogue?  Well, to come round-robin, if you know what it takes to move them about, then it’s easier, not easy- easier, to have them speak in a general manner.  This also helps to establish and ground the character more.  Even if that’s all the character does.  Take for example Floyd from True Romance.  No plot driven dialogue at all, but he’s genuine.  His character is not forced into the story.  He exists because he’s true.  Wow, this is getting long and preachy.  Free dialogue helps to establish the character sometimes more than the direct dialogue.  Another example is the “commode story” from Reservoir Dogs.  The entire point of this story is to ingrain “Mr. Orange” with Joe and the other guys.  Does it have a point in the movie?  No, not really.  But it does among the characters because it tells them who he is without actually going into full detail.  It makes him relatable to the other men.  I’m not telling you anything new, cause this is said in the movie when he’s told to learn the “commode story” and make it his own.  The entire opening scene in the diner with them talking about Like A Virgin and K Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70’s is not plot driven dialogue.  It’s honest and true, and I love it.  It makes them feel more real, and because of that, it pulls you in. 

            In honor of QT, I’ll be posting my Pulp Fiction parody, Phantom Fiction, later this week.  The basic premise is Star Wars combined with Pulp Fiction because Samuel L. Jackson was in both of them.  Fairly simple.  If you’re a fan of both movies you might find it kinda funny.  Everyone seems to like the “Nock chops” part. 

            To QT, from your biggest fan – I am, too! – thanks for showing me how it’s done right.

 

Jerale C

Mindseyechronicles@comcast.net

Tags:

2 Comments »

  1. Awesome!! I loved Phantom Fiction.
    Boo on you for not mentioning Kevin Smith. I love his wacky conversations.
    Food court rants especially.

    Comment by Jadielady — March 17, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  2. Too true. But, this was about Quentin, not Kevin. Even still, in keeping with the theme of the Phantom Fiction post I will recognize the The Empire Strikes Back dialogue from Clerks.

    Comment by MEC — March 17, 2009 @ 9:40 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment