Writing

Dialogue

David Mamet

Lesson time 7:21 min

Learn how David developed his style for writing dialogue, famously known as "Mamet-speak," and where to draw inspiration when trying to write great dialogue.

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David Mamet
Teaches Dramatic Writing
The Pulitzer Prize winner teaches you everything he's learned across 26 video lessons on dramatic writing.
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You have to write the elegant, rhythmic way because human speech is rhythmic. And if you listen to people having a conversation, what they're doing is creating a rhythmic poetry. They're filling in the pauses, and capping each other's speech and so forth, in a way which is rhythmic. And I think somebody said, English is the only language in which our prime writer is a dramatist. So Shakespeare, the greatest poet of the English language-- and he wrote in iambic pentameter because that's the rhythm of everyday English speech. W.C Handy also wrote in iambic pentameter because that's the rhythm of everyday English speech. I hate to see the evening sun go down, is iambic pentameter. Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I, is iambic pentameter. I'll see you Sunday if it doesn't rain, that's iambic pentameter. That's the rhythm of natural English speech and Shakespeare raised that to the greatest of art forms. I talk to my friend, rabbi Finley, and he says, when he sees a couple and he says, OK tell me what the problem is. He says he can almost tune it out. He can tell just by the rhythm-- what they're saying to each other. And we can too, because if you think about it, if you see a couple, two businessmen, two businesswomen, a couple blah, blah, blah across the restaurant, you can't hear what they're saying, but you know what they're talking about because you can tell from the rhythm. How they kept each other. How they come on top of each other. How they cut each other off. And so, if you can write, the actors know it and they love it because it's natural, because they don't have to fight against the current of a clunky line. So, the lines come out of their mouth as naturally and they're grateful for them, so I'm grateful to them. The old joke is, one guy says to another, why does a Jew always answer a question with a question? The answer was, well, what should a Jew answer a question with? The question is why do people speak in real life? They speak to get something from each other. It might seem like they speak to express themselves, but as I understand it, that's not true. They only express themselves to get something from one another. It might be something legitimate or it might be something illegitimate, but they only speak to get something. Similarly onstage, they only speak to get something. So the question is, what does each person want-- then we know why they're speaking-- then we know what they want to say. For example, one person might say to another, what floor do you want, or they might say, I want to go to bed with you until the cows come home. And the two things might mean exactly the same thing, but there's a way to say it. So, what the person is saying is not, I need to know what floor you're going to, or what floor do you want might mean, I've seen you before and there's something about you that I don't like. Yo...


Write great drama

David Mamet sat in on a poker game full of thieves and left with the inspiration for American Buffalo. Now, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Glengarry Glen Ross takes you through his process for turning life’s strangest moments into dramatic art. In his writing class, he’ll teach you the rules of drama, the nuances of dialogue, and the skills to develop your own voice and create your masterpiece.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Great Masterclass from a true master, got just a little too philosophical through some of it, which doesn't mean I didn't learn anything, but maybe a little more stories focused on improving writing would have served me better. However, Mr Mamet's stories are nonetheless very educational life lessons to take with me through my writing.

I've really enjoyed this class. I have only listened and when absolutely necessary wrote something inspiring after listening. I will go back through the class and take intentional notes. I didn't know David prior to this course. I am VERY happy to have learned of/from him now. Very inspiring and informative.

As splendid as I'd anticipated; comprehensive, articulate, generous, sincerely irreverent,deeply creative, passionate and enjoyable. E.g. David Mamet.

It was great ! It motivated me to take initiative. Lots of wisdom and good advice. Thank you for sharing !!!


Comments

Travis C.

"Are you gonna hate it? - Yeah. Are you sometimes gonna love it? - YeahAnd then are you gonna hate yourself for feeling so self-confident and doubt yourself? - Yeah. Welcome to my world"

TC W.

I like his anecdotes. Most of the time, they actually illustrate the point.

Glenna A.

Wish I could get the workbooks to stay on screen. They appear on screen and the next lesson starts in the background. When I minimize the lesson the workbook has disappeared and will not come back. This is my biggest gripe about these courses. You really should fix this.

Matthew M.

This lesson in particular is informative because most writers who are just starting out don't quite understand that you should always write bad dialogue because it will lead you to write better dialogue.

Dazelle S.

I like this lecture about dialogue. I also believe that "showing and not telling" can move the story forward.

Jennifer M.

This lecture, as well as some of the others, are a kind of "tough love." Exactly what I needed to get everything down on paper. I've taken numerous writing courses over the years, including having an M.A. in Children's Literature. For me, I'm taking these succinct, pointed lectures and boldface "dares" to finally get the work done.

J.J. A.

It always surprises me how often writers don't read their dialogue out loud with someone or have other people read it aloud for them. It helps out so much with rhythm to know if it works.

Charlie P.

This I wonder about. Yes, there are rhythms in people's speech, but 90% of the time real people don't listen to one another. They wait for other person to stop speaking so they can say what they'd planned to say all along. In film and drama there's no time for that kind of reality. People/actors must listen to one another (or pretend to) so that, unlike in real life, they can advance the plot as Mr. Mamet rightly urges them to .

Blake Lawless

How is it that I find words demand Music. Rhythm and horns set the icebergs afloat Pianos insist as we ply through the mist. Singing on our boat. Before the crash of Symbols. Better learn to swim. Am I going to hate myself ? To answer like the King of the Jews: WHY ? Fun Stuff

Vince T.

I'm thankful for David's class. I'm learning so much. In an effort to go a bit deeper on the Iambic Pentameter, I found this YouTube video really helpful - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0aAWuUX5jU