Unlike most screenwriting guides that generally analyze several aspects of screenwriting, Constructing Dialogue is devoted to a more analytical treatment of certain individual scenes and how those scenes were constructed to be the most highly dramatic vis a vis their dialogue. In the art of screenwriting, one cannot separate how the scene is constructed from how the dialogue is written. They are completely interwoven.
Each chapter deals with how a particular screenwriter approached dialogue relative to that particular scene's construction. From Citizen Kane to The Fisher King the storylines have changed, but the techniques used to construct scene and dialogue have fundamentally remained the same. The author maintains that there are four optimum requirements that each scene needs in order to be successful: maintaining scenic integrity; advancing the storyline, developing character, and eliciting conflict and engaging emotionally. Comparing the original script and viewing the final movie, the student is able to see what exactly was being accomplished to make both the scene and the dialogue work effectively.
Mark Axelrod is a Full Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and Director of the John Fowles Center for Creative Writing, at Chapman University, USA.
1. Introduction 2. Citizen Kane (1941) Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles 3. Casablanca (1942) Murray Burnett, Joan Alison, Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch, Casey Robinson 4. Sunset Boulevard (1950) Billy Wilder 5. North by Northwest (1959) Ernest Lehman 6. Jules & Jim (1962) Francois Truffaut, Jean Gruault 7. Lolita (1963) Vladimir Nabokov, Stanley Kubrick 8. Goldfinger (1964) Richard Maibaum, Paul Dehn 9. The Graduate (1969) Calder Willingham, Buck Henry 10. Midnight Cowboy (1969) Waldo Salt 11. Chinatown (1973) Robert Towne 12. Annie Hall (1977) Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman 13. When Harry Met Sally (1989) Nora Ephron 14. The Fisher King (1991) Richard LaGravanese 15. Thelma & Louise (1991) Callie Khouri 16. Toy Story (1995) John Lasseter 17. Good Will Hunting (1997) Matt Damon, Ben Affleck 18. Run Lola Run (1998) Tom Tykwer 19. American Beauty (1999) Alan Ball 20. Midnight in Paris (2010) Woody Allen Exercises Screenplay Bibliography Index