William Monahan on Writing Dialogue

Posted by Tom Brogan on Friday, January 9, 2015
Oscar winning screenwriter of 'The Departed' William Monahan spoke to Fast Company magazine on how to write convincing dialogue. He shares some good tips.

Dialogue reveals what characters hide

"Quite decent people often don’t realize that their conversations are not about truth or communication but advancing their own mythologies. Look at what people are trying to conceal, and you’ll see that they’re revealing everything. One of the funniest things in the world these days is that you go into a restaurant and at the next table there’s always a first date going on between people who met online and neither of them are telling the truth about anything whatsoever, even if they’re trying."

People in your life will inspire speech patterns

"My dad has been dead for 20 years but he’s appeared in feature films twice. The main character in Edge of Darkness causes anyone who knew my father to sort of grin."

Do your homework. And work. Like a bastard

"The most important thing is to read truly great dialogists and set yourself a very high bar. You can’t set yourself a high bar unless you’re aware of the very highest standards in dramatic writing, and that means a pretty awesome degree of literacy. And I mean literacy, not cineliteracy."

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