I talked to Michael this weekend about the first act of “The Prey.” All in all he liked it, though there were obviously some things he wanted tweaked a bit. Fortunately, it wasn’t anything structural, just how I presented some stuff and a few lines of dialog and whatnot.
But as we were talking about one specific line, he brought something up in a manner that was framed a way I hadn’t considered before. At a scene that takes place at a bar Kate, one of the two main characters, says, “I’ll grab us some more brew. My breath is starting to smell like sober.”
It’s a cute line, and it works in the scene… except it’s not something Kate should say. That sort of “party girl” line is something her friend Julie, who’s in the booth too, would say.
While talking about the dialog, Michael said, “Look over a line after you write it. Then ask yourself, is this something someone else could say? If it is, change it until it isn’t.” Following that rule makes sure each character has their own voice, and you don’t have parts where everyone “sounds alike.” There are exceptions, such as times you’re working through some exposition. But otherwise, I thought it was a pretty good rule to work by.
All in all it was a good chat with someone who’s actually in the business. Michael reads TONS of scripts, many that NEVER see the light of day, or any sort of money, so he brings a business perspective to writing that I can’t get from anyone else. He’s not a writer, and he’ll be the first to tell you that, but he knows when to spot a problem, and can give some ideas on how to address them. And really, when you’re looking for feedback, that’s all you need.
I’ve stared on the rest of the script for “The Prey.” I’ll keep you posted.
Until next time, keep writing!