An excerpt from my script review for Wind River which will be available 08/14/17:
4.) Dialogue and Description
Subtext and tone. Your script should have both.
Both were established early on in this script and used throughout.
Cory is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and no one comes right out and says anything about his past or who he is.
Very refreshing, because this is after all a mystery, and in addition to solving a murder we’re also playing detective with the characters.
Shit, that junk’s everywhere now.
I’m scared to let my daughter leave
As soon as Tim says it, he wishes he could have it back.
Everyone looks to the ground. To the mountains. To the storm
hovering. Anywhere but Cory, who stares at the coyotes’
corpses in the bed of his truck. Lifeless eyes stare back.
I gotta go.
We just saw a girl die in the snow, and it’s here that we wonder if the girl was Cory’s daughter or not. Either way, it’s crystal clear that Cory’s lost a daughter and still isn’t over it.
Don’t let Casey out of your sight
on the Rez, okay?
I was gonna leave him with your
folks while I scouted. Too cold to
drag him through the snow.
You know what I mean.
Cory seems to make eye contact with her for the first time.
Yeah, I do. And I won’t.
Similar to the previous scene, background information is given without being spelled out for us.
First, Cory and Wilma are divorced. Second, they’re respectful of one another so it must not have been due to romantic issues. Third, they won’t lose their son like they lost his sister.
This scene played out really well.
I’m a hunter.
… A lion hunter??
I hunt predators.
Duh, duh, duhhhhhhhhh! Cory ain’t talking about lions or coyotes anymore!
(This was a good, albeit borderline cheesy, line but then it was overused similarly in later parts.)
You think this is who I wanted to
be? I just … I get so mad, I want
to fight the whole world. You know
what that feels like?
I do. I decided to fight the
feeling instead. Know why?
Cory leans back into the car.
Because I knew the world would win.
Some of that deep emotional shit I was talking about earlier. Here it’s on the topic of life choices in relation to living on a reservation.
This script had more dialogue examples, but we still have description to cover.
The faster she runs, the farther the horizon moves from her.
As if the earth is tilting to prevent this girl from reaching
Holy shit. Having driven through picturesque parts of Wyoming, this is a fantastic visual!
Cowboy hat on his head. Almost white when it was new —
sweat, dirt, and who knows what else, have stained the hat
brown and robbed it of its shape.
A fair description of the man as well.
Hell of a character intro…
The flock (of sheep) runs right toward the man, who doesn’t stop.
Doesn’t even look in their direction.
The flock almost runs into him before dividing and passing
him on either side. They rejoin, and continue their silly
circle — all instinct for survival bred out of them.
Like Moses parting the Red Sea, this is another great visual to witness onscreen.
Come inside. We’ll get you fixed
He points toward the cabin. Ben extends a hand to her as she
reaches the first step. Crowheart has her elbow by the time
she’s on the porch. It is clear none of these men think she
will live five minutes out here.
She should be grateful. She isn’t. Pride makes her shake free
of the men cradling her like a wounded bird. She walks into
Character building moment for Kate. We can see her deflated pride as these “good old boys” take care of her. She needs help of course, but doesn’t have to like it.
(Does lead to seeing Elizabeth Olsen’s character in a thong, though!)
And more good examples as the script went on.
This tone and style is memorable, and as writers we should try and use our words as creative as we can without over doing it.
Try to be unique and succinct when you write, so readers will enjoy your work, and more importantly remember you as a writer.
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