Spice up your movie dialogue with the exaggeration technique

Did you know that a flat movie dialogue is one of the Top 7 Deadly Flaws of a Bad Screenplay?

And it's one of the main reasons for a screenplay to get tossed instead of read ?

One of the 13 rules to write original dialogues talks about the use of dialogue techniques.
Today, the exaggeration technique. How it works, and when to use it.

Annie Hall character Alvy Singer about the exaggeration dialogue technique

Exaggeration technique - 101

Whatascript interviews an exaggeration expert to get to the bottom of this movie dialogue technique.

Meet Alvy Singer, the main character of Annie Hall, screenplay written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman.

Mr Singer, what is your relationship to movie dialogue technique?

Alvy Singer:
I'm obsessed with-with, uh, with death, and movie dialogue techniques I think. Big subjects with me, yeah.

What is this movie dialogue technique about?

Alvy Singer:
Well, this-this is about enlarging or-or increasing things to-to an abnormal degree.

In which context do you use it?

Alvy Singer:
This-this varies.

It-it could be to-to show frustration.

Like, there-there is this moment when I-I-I wait for Annie in front of the movie theater and-and she's late. So when she's-she's finally gets outta the cab, I-I say to her:

 				ALVY  		Jesus, what'd you do, come by way of  		the Panama Canal?      

Or I-I-I could just be annoyed and uh I-I want to take it on someone.

Annie is finally outta the cab, we-we rush inside the movie theater, while we-we argue.

  				ALVY  			(To the ticket clerk)  		H'm, has the picture started yet?  				TICKET CLERK  		It started two minutes ago.  				ALVY  			(Hitting his hand on the counter)  		That's it!  Forget it!  I-I can't go in.  				ANNIE  		Two minutes, Alvy.  				ALVY  			(Overlapping Annie) 		No, I'm sorry, I can't do it.  We-we've  		blown it already. I-you know, uh, I-I  		can't go in in the middle. 

I-I-I also use this dialogue technique to-to show exasperation.

With my-my ex wife Robin for example, sex was, uh I-I mean really, sex was complicated.

 INT. APARTMENT-NIGHT  Robin and Alvy are in bed.  The room is in darkness.  Outside, a siren  starts blaring.  				ROBIN  		Oh, I'm sorry!  				ALVY  		Don't get upset!  				ROBIN  		Dammit!  I was so close.  She flips on the overhead lamp and turns on her side.  Alvy turns to her.  				ALVY  			(Gesturing)  		Jesus, last night it was some guy honking  		his car horn.  I mean, the city can't  		close down.  You know, what-whatta yuh  		gonna do, h-have 'em shut down the  		airport, too?  No more flights so we can  		have sex? 

Sometimes I-I use this technique in a, uh, sarcastic way.

 With brakes squealing, Annie turns the VW sharply into the parking spot.   Annie and Alvy get out, Alvy looking over his shoulder as he leaves the  car.  				ALVY    		That's okay, you ... we-we can walk to  		the curb from here. 

And-and sometimes this dialogue technique is just handy to justify my actions.

 				ALVY  				(Holding the racquet)  		Okay, let me have this.  				ANNIE  			Well, what are you doing ... what are  		you doing with-  				ALVY  			Honey, there's a spider in your bathroom  		the size of a Buick. 
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Picture and screenplay extracts:
-- "Annie Hall" - Diane Keaton, Woody Allen, Gordon Willis (cinematography), Woody Allen (director), Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman (


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* Avatar, screenplay written by James Cameron

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