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How To Write A Character Talking To Himself Screenplay

Adam Scott

Having a character walking through a neighborhood talking to himself can be an interesting way to add depth to your script. It can help give your character that "I don't belong here" feeling, or it can make your character seem more psychotic if you want to make your character seem "off".

This article will discuss how to write a character talking to himself screenplay and discuss how you can use that same technique on your own screenplay or short film.

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to write your character talking to himself dialogue, and everyone's screenplay is unique.

What are character talking to themselves?woman in blue and white floral shirt holding her face

Screenplays or movies where the character constantly is talking to himself are called "character-driven". This is an important category for your script because that is where most of the comedy comes from.

Story is funny, but dialogue is funny to laugh at. This kind of comedy is called "tongue in cheek" comedy.

In this kind of comedy, your main character is a wise-cracking jerk, but the other characters are usually quite kind, or well-meaning.

For example, a classic example of this kind of comedy is Dumb & Dumber. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels play two bumbling idiots who are out on a mission to reunite a lost dog with its owner.

They make a mess of it and have a lot of fun along the way. Dumb & Dumber is funny because we can all identify with two idiots.

Similarly, Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin' Silly" is a tongue in cheek, funny song about people talking and it is considered a classic example of tongue in cheek comedy.

Like Dumb & Dumber, if you are going to do character-driven dialogue, you have to have a character who is aware of the humor and knows how to joke around with it.

Generally speaking, when a character is self-aware of a particular joke, then you can use that self-awareness in your script.

This is the technique I will use in Happy Anniversary with Becky Clements to add a lot of humor to the film.

Using character-driven dialogue as jump-off pointYoung people in conversation

On the film Happy Anniversary with Becky Clements, we see character's talk to themselves for a very long time. There is about a 2-minute gap in the script where we do not see any dialogue from our main character, Josh.

We do not see him reacting to people talking to him, but rather how he responds to his own self-talk. We are focused on his dialogue and not the other people.

"What is this, Oz?"

To me, this is the strongest way to use "character-driven dialogue" in your script because it gives us the maximum payoff from every line we see on the screen.

If we see a character talking to himself for two or three minutes and not reacting to anything, we will be very bored.

The only good way to write dialogue is to use it and not be distracted by what is going on in the rest of the script.

One of the most famous examples of "character-driven dialogue" was Harold Lloyd in the 1923 silent movie, Safety Last!

Harold Lloyd has an "old guy" who is the neighborhood watch. He seems to have aged rapidly, and he is barely coherent as he repeats the same dialogue over and over again.

In the movie, the camera is focused on the old guy's face to show the audience he is just repeating a theme and not really responding to what is going on around him.

This is an example of a scene using character-driven dialogue because it is very focused on our main character's experience, and we are watching his reactions and not everything else on the screen.

In this way, our character is in control of his own story and he is using his self-talk to tell the audience how he feels about things.

How do you use character-driven dialogue in your screenplay?Garage Theater is a theater company from Qom, Iran. Garage Theater researches in the field of Laboratory theater. This company has operated under the title of Garage since 2007. Before that, it has worked under the names of Gal Art and Doreshahr; this goes back to 2005. (Actor: Hani Abdolmajid & Vehut)

Here are some tools that you can use to understand what your character is thinking:

Characters should remember what they said to someone.

A person can repeat themselves up to three times, but after that, they have to be told by someone else what they said to them. This makes sense because if you are going to repeat yourself three times, you want the person you are repeating yourself to know that you are going to repeat yourself.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

In Jaws, for example, as Mr. Shaw knows, we have no idea what the shark is thinking. As a result, we have no idea if he is repeating himself to convince us that he is not really getting through to us or if he is just talking out of his ass.

One way to determine if a character is repeating himself is by looking for a pattern or question that pops up in their conversation.

When something like that comes up, they are rephrasing themselves or trying to ask a question of another character to see what they say back to them.

So, they may be repeating themselves but they are not doing it in a way that is trying to teach us something about them or their character.

Another way to determine if a character is repeating themselves is to look for a change in subject matter.

Example:

Tommy: "Are you angry with me?"

Edgar: "Yes."

Tommy: "Oh, you got a phone call!""

Edgar: "Yeah."

Tommy: "Oh. Well, it looks like it's true."

Edgar: "The thing is, I'm not really surprised. I heard all about it the first time."

Note the change in topic or intent as they each try to find out what the other person is really thinking.

Example:

Tommy: "I wonder what would have happened if I'd gone to the party instead."

Edgar: "Yeah. It's easy to second-guess, you know. I mean, I wouldn't have been there. I would have been home reading."

One thing we should notice is that Edgar seems to be going off on a tangent about something he saw on TV. He hasn't really been talking about the party he went to the night before.

Now, how would you talk about the party?

His opinions are his own, but this is a pretty good example of character-driven dialogue because we can see what Tommy is thinking about and feel sympathetic for him as he is mulling over his own problems.

Character-driven dialogue is basically using dialogue to understand what is happening with our characters. It is focused on what the character thinks about what is going on in the world around them.

Character-driven dialogue is acting on your character's thoughts and emotions, not just acting on what they say.

To show us a character's thoughts and emotions, try going through the "talking stage" in your script.

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