On the Nose Dialogue Examples and How to Stop It Killing Your Script.

The ultimate guide to preventing on the nose dialogue from ruining your screenplay's chances.

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by Script Reader Pro in How to Write Dialogue
September 3, 2013 49 comments
on the nose dialogue

On the nose dialogue examples and how to stop it killing your script.

What’s the quickest way of letting someone reading your script know they’re in the hands of a novice? Answer: Write on the nose dialogue.

On the nose dialogue is like Kryptonite to the reader and should be eliminated wherever it’s found.

In this post we’re going to tackle how to write a dialogue between two characters that feels as natural as possible. We’ll do this by using examples of on the nose dialogue, followed by what the writer could have written instead.

So let’s get started.

On the nose dialogue example #1.

On The Nose Dialogue example

This is not how people talk in real life. It feels fake. And if everything your characters say in the script feels fake, everything about the script ends up feeling fake too.

This screenwriting dialogue exchange is taken from the first page in the script. We told the writer that we should really see Lydia close the deal, instead of having both women talk about it after the event.

The script could 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.

It’s the old cliche of “show don’t tell” which is a vital skill to master as a screenwriter and one that will help get rid of on the nose dialogue.

How to eliminate dialogue that’s on the nose. 

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 screenplay table read, and so on.

Whatever ever you do, ween out all on the nose dialogue and cut 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.

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Dialogue example #2. 

Here’s another example of on the nose dialogue taken from another screenplay. Two teenage girls are in a bedroom, 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. Then we could see why they don’t even let her audition. What did she do that was so bad? 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 CUT TO: her leaving the studio, angry and disappointed, 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.

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, we have a number of script coverage services below.

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Enjoyed this post? Read more on how to avoid on the nose dialogue…

Script Dialogue: If Your Characters Are Just Talking You’re Doing It Wrong

How to Write a Screenplay: The Secret to Elevating It Above the Ordinary

Show Don’t Tell: How to Turn a Talky Script Into a Visual Masterpiece

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