Creating dialogue

Writing from a child’s (and adult’s) point of view proved to be a challenge, seeing as how the way we speak is very different – not just in terms of age, but also culturally, as I had to consider the different slangs and ways in which they used certain words when compared to here in Australia and back in Malaysia.

As I did a bit of research on how I might go about this, I stumbled upon a book by Richard A. Blum which proved to be helpful. In his book was a chapter on realistic dialogue, and he stated that ‘dialogue should be motivated by the circumstances in the scene and should be consistent with the character development already established’ (Blum 2001).

As I began to think a bit about our few characters, I thought about the profile we had created for them, and tried to make dialogues that suited with their personalities. To give you a better idea of what I will soon explain, here is the link to the script.

A sweet, socially-awkward girl. She is introverted but joyful nevertheless. 
I made her social awkwardness evident through the way she interacts with her new ‘real’ friend, Chelsea. On the other hand, her joyful attitude can be seen when she is playing with her imaginary friend, Sam.

Stella’s imaginary friend. He has a sweet and charming character.
He is submissive to Stella, for example when he agrees to use the purple crayon when Stella tells him to, or when they are playing ‘Hairdressers’ together, where Stella chooses the hairstyle that he will have. This submissiveness is also for the fact that he is merely something Stella brought to life.

Stella’s neighbour, who later becomes her friend. She is a talkative, inquisitive child.
Her talkative personality contrasts against Stella’s quiet nature, and this can be seen when the two interact for the very first time. She uses a lot of questions and longer sentences compared to Stella’s short, seemingly disinterested replies.

Stella’s mother. She is constantly concerned about Stella’s well-being.
Her concern is seen on the times she checks on Stella and finds her playing with nobody, and when she is on the phone with a family friend. She is also the one who invites the neighbour over for tea and encourages Stella to play with Chelsea.

By thinking about our characters’ personalities and how they would react or respond to situations, I was able to come up with dialogues and actions that suited accordingly. Additionally, I got comments and suggestions from my team and other friends as to whether or not these characters’ dialogues suited their ages and personalities. Brushing it up along the way, I was able to improve it over several revisions.

This was a fun and interesting exercise for me, as I have only done one other short film throughout my schooling life, and so do not have much experience with creating solid characters or writing scripts. I reckon that I might have to make a few other changes along the way as the weeks come and go – as if we as a group have not already gone through that – but as that is all part of the learning experience, I believe that that would be exciting nevertheless.

Blum, RA 2001, Television and Screen Writing: From Concept to Contract, 4th ed., Taylor & Francis, UK, pp. 81-90.

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