Friday, April 21, 2006

As Elegant as a Brick

I managed, just barely, to hit my four-page target last night, although a lot of that is dialogue that I suspect will get trimmed in a second draft.

It's funny. My inspiration, as I mentioned before, was seeing Brick (which may or may not be playing anywhere near you - it's in limited release, so only one theatre in Toronto is showing it).

Brick is a hard-boiled film noir detective story, set at a suburban southern California high school.
I thought - inasmuch as I had anything about the project planned at all - that I was going to be writing some sort of noir-influenced detective story. That's certainly what started coming out when I first sat down at the keyboard.

But at some point between Page 1 and Page 19 - which is where I left off last night - there was a very noticeable shift.

Remember when I said that the two main characters were bickering entertainingly? Still true. Their relationship seems to have become the driving force behind the story. And that's not noir at all. Banter in hard-boiled detective stories tends to be fraught with danger, and bickering leads very quickly to violence.

I've always loved writing dialogue. And almost everything I write contains a strongly comedic streak. (Well, it amuses me, anyway.)

And that's really where we come back to Brick. Because what really impressed me about the writing in Brick was the dialogue. The seamless, elegant, effective adaptation of the machine-gun paced, sharp and stylish language of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe to the milieu of alienated SoCal adolescents.

Good writing makes we want to write something good. And the dialogue in Brick is very, very good. My screenplay won't be a film noir. It won't be hard-boiled. But I'll try to make the dialogue sharp, smart, elegant. And effective.

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