Talking Draft

Andrew Walker’s screenplay for Se7en (1995) has scenes with dialog that flow beautifully.

Obviously Morgan Freeman’s Bogartesque unblinking rapid-fire delivery and Brad Pitt’s energetic fight to keep up powers many moments. However, it’s the fundamentals in his scenes that make so many of them compelling despite many beats being – from an outline perspective – standard cop procedural.

In this example scene the detectives talk about the murder so that the audience gets caught up on what has been learned so far in their investigation. But scribe Walker raises the stakes… with character dynamics:

About-to-retire Somerset (Freeman) wants to quit the investigation. He tells his captain that Mills (Pitt) is too green for what might be a huge serial killer case. AND we learn all the info we need to know about the murder.

This video is from our previous design…forgive us.

This video is from our previous design…forgive us.

That extra tension in the room: “He’s not ready, etc” is what elevates a functional outline beat into a meaty scene.

How often a writer can consistently do this for our data-dump plot beats is one of the elements of a script that separates the pros from the rest.

So if your outline has one of these scenes that’s a informational dump site, an exposition dump, or just an audience catch-up… before you begin to improv your Talking Draft, ask yourself: “What would make things in this moment 
more difficult for my characters?”


Not car chase-difficult, but difficult in the realm of human relationships. An ego’s wants/needs. In this example:

  • Rookie Mills gets a vote of no-confidence from his partner and his boss.
    > That makes him angry.
  • Veteran Somerset begs to retire in peace but is denied.
    > That makes him sad.
  • (Plus we get the info dump we need.)

The result is drama plus data. Walker’s screenplay does this consistently and, simply put, that’s why he sells.

So do like this! Have fun on your Talking Drafts.

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