When it comes to writing for television the best in the business don’t just work on the plot, the pace of the story and the episode, the large majority of their work is writing actual scripts, and many will tell you that this is the most difficult aspect of all. This is also where greta writers excel, people like Roger Wolfson who wrote on Law and Order, Fairly Legal and Saving Grace for example, has been lauded for his incredible ability to capture emotions and connections through his ability to write conversations.
To the newbie however, the notion of writing what people are saying or are going to say just looks strange when you see it on paper, and here are some tips on how you can do it better.
To remove the weirdness of writing down a conversation a great idea is to take a recording of you speaking with a range of different people and then sitting down and writing out those conversations. The reason why it is important that you use a wide range of people and conversations is that we speak to everyone differently and this will give you a broad range of styles. Normally when you beginning writing something down you are filled with doubt ‘he wouldn’t say that’ creeps in. If however you are writing actual conversations then you can be safe in the knowledge that this is exactly how people speak.
Conjure up situations in your head, perhaps situations which you have found yourself in before, and stick to just 2 people at this stage. Write this scene out a number of times with different conversations and different endings to the scene. This will help you in one way simply because you are practicing a lot, and it will also help you to imagine different angles of conversations and different emotions which people may go through.
Once you try more and more to write conversations you are likely to naturally heighten your senses when you are speaking to people or when you hear people speaking to others. What you are looking for here are the little nuances of speech, how people talk to one another, what they are saying with their words, their tone of voices and their facial expressions. Remember that we speak using our whole body, not just our words.
A critical aspect of practicing this is getting other people to read it. When we write speech on our own we can be hyper judgmental but when we read what others have written it may sound perfectly natural. The most important aspect of this is not just that you seek feedback, m but rather than you pay attention to the feedback which you get, this is the only way in which you are going to be able to improve.
Practice as hard as you possibly can, be aware of how people speak and most importantly listen to any feedback.