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On The Nose Dialogue: The Very BEST Way To Eliminate It



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by Script Reader Pro in How To Write A Screenplay
September 3, 2013 7 comments
on the nose dialogue

Question: What’s the quickest way of letting an agent or manager reading your script that they’re in the hands of a novice screenwriter? Answer: Write on the nose dialogue on every other page.

On the nose dialogue is like Kryptonite to the reader and needs to be rooted out and eliminated wherever it can be found. In this post we’re going to tackle how to write a dialogue between two characters that feels as natural as possible.

On The Nose Dialogue Example #1

On The Nose Dialogue

No one, least of all an agent, manager or producer, wants to read on the nose dialogue like this. Primarily because this is not how people talk. It feels fake. And if everything your characters say in the script feels fake, everything about the script feels fake.

In the above example, this screenwriting dialogue exchange is the very first page in the script. (Oh boy…) We told the writer that we should really see Lydia close the deal, instead of having both women talk about it after the event.

This script should open on Lydia and Victoria in the office closing the deal — that way we get to see the women in action and get a feel for their characters. We’d get the chance to see their characters in action and the most important character trait a protagonist should have.

It’s the old cliche of “show don’t tell” which you’ve probably heard before.

How To Eliminate On The Nose Dialogue

Want to know the secret to getting rid of on the nose dialogue in your screenplay? Recognize it! Comb your script for it. Have someone else read it and point it out. Read out the screenwriting dialogue to yourself aloud. Have other people read it to you aloud. Organize a table read of your screenplay if you have to.

Whatever ever you do, ween out that on the nose dialogue and get rid of it. See if you can replace on the nose screenplay dialogue with a scene showing the thing the characters are talking about.

In most cases you’ll find you can.


On The Nose Dialogue Example #2

Here’s another example taken from another screenplay. Two teenage girls are chatting on the phone:

On The Nose Dialogue

There are a number of scenes or shots that could be shown here instead of one scene of two girls chatting on the phone:

  • Instead of Riley ask Katie if she’s going for a commercial, the writer could show us a short scene of Katie at a commercial audition.
  • We never see Katie anywhere near an audition, and so, of course, this scene would be much better served by showing us Katie screw up the audition. And then we could see why they don’t even let her audition. What did she do that was so bad? And this script’s a comedy, so showing her mess up here would’ve been a great opportunity to get some laughs in.
  • Riley asks Katie if she can borrow some money from her parents, which is “never gonna happen!” Wouldn’t this info be better served by a short scene of Katie and her mom driving and the car breaks down and the mom freaks out because she can’t afford to fix it? Then we know all there is to know about the mom’s money situation and the fact it’s pointless Katie asking her for money.

It’s amazing also how when you start to replace dialogue with visual scenes showing characters in action, things start to flow more naturally from one scene to the next.

For example, after showing Katie mess up the audition, the writer could’ve CUT TO: her leaving the studio, angry and showing her disappointment, maybe by overreacting to being accidentally bumped into by a passing stranger.

Action/Reaction Screenwriting

In other words — show us the action — Katie messing up the audition. Then show us the reaction — Katie shouting at a stranger for no reason because really she’s angry about the audition.

There are many other essential techniques to improving your dialogue, but on the nose dialogue can be the hardest beast to tame. It’s essential you do, however, if you want to progress as a screenwriter and climb the ranks from aspiring to professional.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these hacks on how to write a dialogue that engages the reader. Check out our course, Script Hackr, for even more hands-on hacks and exercises. Or hire us to get your screenplay where you want it to be, get an agent and get sold. In order to eliminate on the nose dialogue from your screenplay, check out our script coverage services by clicking the banner below.

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  1. Tomek says:

    I haven’t sent any query letters out yet. However, while I am in the writing process I have been doing a LOT of research into agents using both online and offline resources.

    I have also been reading quite a few agent’s blogs and I am simply amazed that anyone would submit a query to an agent that is not accepting unsolicited queries.

    1. SRP says:

      Hey Tomek, yes you hit the nail on the head! It’s great that you’re doing your research first and all aspiring writers should follow your example. Good luck with your scripts and feel free to reach out to us if you need any help with them 🙂


  2. Randy N says:

    This is my biggest fault with my screenplays. Thanks for the info.

  3. Howey says:

    Some truly great tips on this site, I love it.

  4. Kirby says:

    My dialogue sucks so bad and I no it. I will try this one for sure – thanks.

  5. Charles says:

    Thanks guys,this will really help me with my dialogue.

  6. Potus says:

    Hey! Thanks guys this is so helpful.

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