New! Writing Compelling Dialogue for Film and TV - Available for pre-order. Item will ship after October 1, 2020

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Available for pre-order. Item will ship after October 1, 2020


Writing Compelling Dialogue for Film and TV
The Art & Craft of Raising Your Voice on Screen
By Loren-Paul Caplin

192 Pages

Writing Compelling Dialogue for Film and TV is a practical guide that provides screenwriters with a clear set of exercises, tools, and methods to raise your ability to hear and discern conversation at a more complex level, in turn allowing you to create better, more nuanced, complex and compelling dialogue.

The process of understanding dialogue writing begins with increasing writers’ awareness of what they hear. This book provides writers with an assortment of dialogue and language tools, techniques, and exercises and teaches them how to perceive and understand the function, intent and thematic/psychological elements that dialogue can convey about character, tone, and story. Text, subtext, voice, conflict, exposition, rhythm and style are among the many aspects covered. This book reminds us of the sheer joy of great dialogue and will change and enhance the way writers hear, listen to, and write dialogue, and along the way aide the writers’ confidence in their own voice allowing them to become more proficient writers of dialogue.

Written by veteran screenwriter, playwright, and screenwriting professor Loren-Paul Caplin, Writing Compelling Dialogue is an invaluable writing tool for any aspiring screenwriter who wants to improve their ability to write dialogue for film and television, as well as students, professionals, and educators.

Table of Contents


        Fade In: Introduction

    PART ONE: On Dialogue

        Chapter One: Understanding Dialogue

        Intro: Understanding Dialogue

        Function & Purpose

        Defining Better Dialogue


        Text & Subtext





        Chapter Two: Illuminating Character Through Dialogue

        Introduction: Understanding Character

        Character Arc

        Outer and Inner Goals

        Wants, needs, drives, passions

        Externalizing the Internal

        Putting It All Together

        Chapter Three: Types of Dialogue

            Introduction: Types of Dialogue

            Basic Dialogue



            Asides & Soliloquies

            Heightened & Stylised Dialogue

            Realistic/Naturalistic Dialogue

        Chapter Four: Voice-Overs & Narrations

        Introduction: Voice-Overs and Narrations

        So, what is it?

        Structure Markers

        Asides & Soliloquies


        Literary Dimension

        The Three Basic Types of Voice-Over:

            The Voice of God V.O.

            Looking Back V.O.

            Part of the Narrative V.O.

        When is it appropriate to use voice-overs?

        Chapter Five: Platforms

        Introduction: Platforms




        Prose Fiction

        Film Dialogue vs. TV Dialogue

    PART TWO: Tool Kits for Improving Your Dialogue

        Chapter Six: Tool Kit - Writing Dialogue

        Introduction: Writing Dialogue

        Starting - What do you do?

        Intention - What do you want?

        Structure, Shape and Pace

        The Do’s, Don’ts and Exceptions

        Chapter Seven: Tool Kit - Specificity

        Introduction: Specificity



        Unique Words

        Technical, Authentic Word,

        Colorful Words

        Colloquial Language and Vernacular

        Chapter Eight: Tool Kit - Writing Singular Characters

        Introduction: Writing Singular Characters

        Finding Character


        Quirks and Unique Logic

        Energy: Passion & Pop Content

        Chapter Nine: Tool Kit - Naturalistic Dialogue, Themes & Exposition Problems

        Introduction: Naturalistic Dialogue, Themes & Exposition Problems

        Naturalistic Dialogue

        Theme Words

        Remedying Exposition

    PART THREE: Exercises: Better Hearing & Voicing Your Characters

        Chapter Ten: Accessing Character & Application

        Introduction: Accessing Character & Application

        Character Complexity

        Character Bios for Dialogue

        Application: What to do

        Chapter Eleven: Better Hearing

        Introduction: Better Hearing

        Ear Tuning

        Nine Aspects of Dialogue


        Collecting Dialogue

        Chapter Twelve: Voice Exercises

        Introduction: Voice Exercises

        Character Channeling - Mimicking

        Character Channeling - Other Voices

        Listening to & Improving Your Own Voice


        Fade Out: Conclusion



Loren-Paul Caplin has written feature films & TV scripts for studios & independents, including Paramount, Universal, Sony, and Fox Searchlight. He teaches and has taught screenwriting at Columbia University, NYU/Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing, The New School (where he co-authored Screenwriting Certificate Curriculum) and Hofstra University. He also wrote/directed feature, The Lucky Ones (Tribeca Film Festival, 2003), short film The History of the World in 8 Minutes, (New Directors/New Films Festival, MoMA) as well as several plays, and has done commentary for Criterion Collection and is a screenwriting consultant.


    'Caplin's extensive screenwriting and teaching experience nourishes this exceedingly useful guide. Whether screenwriters are just starting out or looking to perfect their skills, his tool kit is filled with elements that sharpen what he rightly calls ear tuning. This book illuminates not only text, but context and subtext.'
    Annette Insdorf, Film Professor, Columbia University

    'Dialogue is the key to unlocking character. Loren-Paul Caplin’s book is a key to unlocking dialogue. Nothing is worse than listening to bad dialogue. It makes your skin crawl, your hair burst into flames, and your ears fall off.  Caplin’s book will help you save your audience a lot of pain and suffering.'
    Jim Kouf, Writer (Grimm, National Treasure, Rush Hour, Money Monster)

    ‘Perhaps the toughest part of writing a compelling screenplay is creating dialogue that sings. In this excellent introduction, Loren-Paul Caplin provides aspiring screenwriters with a powerful set of tools to take on their journey to effective storytelling.’

    Jonathan Wacks, Founding Director and Professor at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, Brooklyn College and former Chair of the Visual and Media Arts Department, Emerson College. (Credits include: Powwow Highway, Repo Man, 21 Jump St.)

    ‘Among the sea of how-to books for screenwriters, Loren-Paul Caplin’s stands out for finally giving dialogue its due. Systematic and succinct, Writing Compelling Dialogue provides the kind of toolkit that puts inspiration within reach. The entertaining examples and exercises will make your fingers itch to start writing.’

    Rob King, Professor of Film and Media Studies, Columbia University

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