Yesterday was part one. Today is part two.
Hitchcock said a “good story was life with the dull parts taken out.” Same for dialogue. Don’t waste time with hellos, how you doing?, etc. Get in a scene as late as you can, and get out as early as you can.
Take great pains in writing the opposite sex. There is a tendency to make the opposite sex generic or stereotypical. If you’re unsure how a member of the opposite sex would act in a certain situation or what they’d say, ASK a few of them.
LISTEN. Eavesdrop. Make your dialogue as authentic as you possibly can. Make note of expressions. (If your show centers in a high school, don’t just assume the kids today will use the same expressions or act the exact same way that you did.) RESEARCH. Scour Netflix for documentaries that might contain characters similar to yours. See how the talking heads in the documentary speak.
Remember that real people have to say these lines. Actors will question things. Be careful with insults.
Take the side of every character. If there’s an argument, fight equally hard for both sides. Even if you personally disagree with one of those sides.
Always play your characters to the top of their intelligence. Don’t sacrifice your character for a joke.
It’s okay for your characters to have the perfect comeback. Creative license will let you have that one.
For exposition, don’t have characters tell other characters things they already know. “You’ve been working at this precinct for 16 years.” This happens a lot in procedurals. “When the blood coagulates like this and is exposed to air it turns a shade of purple.” “I’ve been in forensics for twenty years, I know that!”
Don’t make sentences so long an actor can’t say them in one breath.
Use profanity very sparingly. Even if you’re allowed. The words have no impact if overused.
Avoid using the same word in back to back sentences. “I’m interested in politics. I’m also interested in science.” Better: “I’m interested in politics. Also science.”
A stylized trick in pilot writing is saying the name of the character you’re talking to (more than occurs in real life). “Hey Alice, how was your day?” “Fred, you can’t keep showing up late.” “I’m telling you Cindy, he was standing in the rain.” This device is helpful in teaching the audience just who these characters are. (Once they do, by week four or five, cut down the use of names waaaaay down. Like I said, people don’t generally speak that way. If you ever say the name of someone it’s usually because you’re pissed at them.)
How do you punctuate? If you want a pause you can put … or (beat). The writer’s best friend. When you want a character to switch to another topic or train of thought within the same speech use (then). For asides I use --.
Have your characters doing something in a scene. Not just talking heads.
And here’s a very important one. Read the scene out loud. Maybe gather a few friends to sit around the table and read the script. You’ll instantly see what’s difficult to say, what’s clunky, overly long, confusing, etc. If you take only one tip from these past two days it is that one.
As always, best of luck!