Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sitcoms and Dialogue

So, tonight, I took a brief break from reality and sat down to watch some good, old fashioned sitcoms on TV. The two I watched was the Big Bang Theory and Rules of Engagement. I happen to love the Big Bang Theory, and Rules is pretty good as well. Plus, Rules has Patrick Warburten, and that’s always a plus in my book.

As I was watching, I started wondering what it is about these kinds of shows that we as TV viewing people like? What draws us to them, what makes them so funny?

About half way through Rules, I realized what it was. It’s the dialogue.

I realize that these are TV shows, but in both cases, most of the jokes were verbal. Sure, some of it was done through facial expressions, and there was also some real physical humor, but most of it was the dialogue.

And I started to wonder: as a writer, what can I learn about dialogue from sitcoms? Probably a lot.

I looked back at these episodes and wondered what it was about the dialogue that made me like these episodes. Well, being that they are comedies, timing plays a huge part. The dialogue is also often quick and sharp. As much as I love these shows, the truth is that most of us are not as quick and witty as people in sitcoms are. At the same time, I didn’t feel that the language used in either show was unrealistic. It sounded like things real people would say.

So, there’s something I want to take away from this and apply to my writing, I think. I want to make my dialogue sharp and not stuttered with all the odd pauses and “um’s” that punctuate real world conversations, but at the same time I want the language itself to sound natural, like something someone would actually say.

So, anyway, that’s my random musings about dialogue tonight. I hope you all got something out of that. I know I did.

1 comment:

  1. I think I remember someone saying a writer's job is to make dialog feel real, letting the reader decide when and where to pause on their own. It said if we are good writers, the dialogue will reflect it.