Talking Heads

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Talking Heads

One of the biggest mistakes beginning writers make is writing scenes where the characters talk about things that happened rather than showing us the events themselves. Some golden rules of writing merit repetition: show, don't tell!

Avoid talking head scenes by putting your characters in action. If your hero goes to a party, show us the party, not him discussing it over lunch with his friends. If your heroine has a humiliating blind date, show us the date, not the heroine complaining to her girlfriend on the phone. It's okay to have her talk to her girlfriend after the date, but have her say something that gives us new information or subtly shades what we've already seen, like this example from Thelma and Louise.

In a previous scene, we saw J.D. (Brad Pitt) seduce Thelma in a motel room. The following morning, Thelma meets Louise for breakfast. Here's what she tells her best girlfriend about the wild night she spent:

Oh my God, Louise!!! I can't believe it! I just really can't believe it! I mean... whoa! I mean I finally understand what all the fuss is about. This is just a whole 'nother ball game!

Notice there's no lengthy description, just how Thelma feels, which adds nuance to what we've already seen.

Strengthen your writing by eliminating talking heads scenes and making every word of your dialogue count.



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