Thursday, 12 February 2009

Dialogue Peeve

So this is a little thing that annoys me. It happens mostly in TV drama.

A character (we'll call him Logan) will say something like: "I'm going to punch you in the face".

The other guy (Derek) will respond: "WHAT?!"

A perfectly natural response, but then comes the annoying bit. In response to the "what", Logan will simple say: "I'm going to punch you in the face"

And that's what annoys me. Don't just repeat the line. That's boring! Very very boring. Besides, the probable reason Derek said "what" is because he doesn't believe Logan. So ask yourself this; which is more shiny and convincing?

LOGAN: I'm going to punch you in the face.
DEREK: What?!
LOGAN: I'm going to punch you in the face.

...or...

LOGAN: I'm going to punch you in the face.
DEREK: What?!
LOGAN: I'm going to knock your teeth down your fucking throat!
DEREK: *Pisses his pants*

The second is clearly more exciting and powerful. It may seem obvious, but it's surprising how often I notice it happening. Only a few weeks ago I heard it in DEMONS. No-one wants to hear the same line repeated; they want to hear something bigger and better. It's something that really pisses me off when I'm watching a film or TV ep.

Think about it....

4 comments:

Michelle Goode said...

Agree with you there. But then, what do you expect from a show like DEMONS? lol

Definitely think your second version of the hypothetical script dialogue as the better of the two. The tension will be building up... the perpetrator will be becoming angrier... Hence a more elaborate response, like the one about kicking the teeth in, is much more pertinent than just repeating that "punch you in the face" line.

Good observations. Repetition. Something all screenwriters should avoid like the plague!

Neil said...

Glad you agree. It really annoys me lol

Sasha said...

But why would you *tell* anybody you were going to punch them in the face? Isn't it safer/easier/faster to just punch them?

And if you were to tell somebody you were going to punch them, wouldn't it go:

Logan: I'm going to punch you in the face!
Derek (drinking Logan's coke) *roll eyes*
Logan: You knew I was about to drink that fucking coke!

Because wouldn't the subtext be:

Logan: I'm angry!
Derek: I'm an asshole
Logan: Now I'm angry AND frustrated AND stuck with an unrepentant asshole!

Just my two cents :)

Neil said...

An interesting point. I was using the whole punching in the face thing as an example, but I also believe that if you're EVER going to puch someone (as in throw the 1st punch) you should give them fair warning.

Great subtext there though, I love it! Wouldn't like to meet Logan now - he hits people in the face when they drink his coke! Argh!

Thanks for the insight, much appreciated.