Dialogue When a Character Can’t Speak

Before Laura and I worked yesterday she showed me the photo of the Easter eggs she and her husband made. She said they organized all the necessary components for dyeing eggs she’d boiled the day before. They had a pizza delivered, and then they made martinis and started coloring eggs. I imagine just about any activity is more fun with martinis. She said next year she’s having an Easter Egg Party. That sounds like fun.

Easter eggs don’t really have anything to do with script writing, but we usually spend the first ten minutes of each work session bringing each other up to date on what’s happened in our lives.

eggs - Laura

Yesterday we worked on a script after lunch, tweaking dialogue according to notes we got a week ago. We’re making progress.

A challenge with this script is that one of the characters can’t talk because he lost his tongue to cancer. Mute characters make dialogue tricky. The notes we got wanted us to ramp up the conflict between two of the characters; when one of them can’t speak we have limited options. He can write a note or someone else can speak for him. Or he can act his ass off. Maybe we can give him a bell or buzzer like that character in Breaking Bad. If this gets made into a movie, it will be a fabulous part for somebody.

We should probably watch The Piano, a film in which Holly Hunter plays a mute woman. However, she can sign. I remember that as being one of the most depressing movies I’d seen. Everyone came out of the theater silent and downcast. It won three Academy Awards out of ten nominations. So much for my discriminating taste.

2 thoughts on “Dialogue When a Character Can’t Speak

  1. Depending upon when your script takes place, there is the computer voice option, such as the computer Stephen Hawking uses. You don’t mention Patti Duke in The Miracle Worker, an excellent example of an actor performing without language. Good luck with with this interesting challenge!

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    • Good idea but this script takes place in the 50’s. It would be interesting to look at the script for The Miracle Worker. Helen and her teacher had lots of communication, but the teacher spoke rarely.

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