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Arts & Entertainment

Dialogue (Cont'd)

David Mamet

Lesson time 13:05 min

David talks about what informs and motivates dialogue, and how to achieve a musicality and rhythm in your character's speech pattern.

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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Play is essentially a poem. It's a poem written for two voices or three voices or four voices. So the lines have to be rhythmic and beautiful, if you can. Because they aren't about conveying information. For example, Churchill says, we will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them in the fields, we will fight them on the landing fields, we will never surrender. And he could have just said, we're going to fight. But his speech created an idea in the minds of its hearers. The poetry of Churchill, which comes right out of his love of Shakespeare and of the King James Bible-- those are the same cadences. Encourage the British people-- they were beaten in 1939. There was no way that they could have defeated the Nazis. There was no way. Except Churchill said, we're going to win. We will never, ever surrender. And he said, it may be our fate to drown in a welter of our own blood. And that's preferable to living under the Nazis. And he wasn't talking to the Nazis. He was talking to his fellow Brits, who said, yes, that's true, we are like that. But they weren't like that until Churchill said it. Then they realized they were like that. So that's the power of poetry. Dr. King's a perfect example. I have a dream. The speech changed America, right? He was speaking prophecy, he was speaking poetry. And he could have spoken like a politician. Nobody listens to politicians because it might be true, but it's all drivel, right? But when you put it in poetry, which has an element of prophesy in it, it has the capacity to move souls. Some people have a gift to write poetry and others don't. And great poetry has the capacity to move and it works itself into the mind. Like if you read Shakespeare, you're going to remember a lot of Shakespeare, even if it's only a phrase. You remember a lot of them. You read Rudyard Kipling. You read, say for example, Coleridge or Keats or Shelley or those guys. You remember it. Glossy magazines today publishing are drivel that they call poetry-- you can't remember one. If I said to you, OK, I'll give you a billion dollars if you can quote me that poem tomorrow, you couldn't remember it. The poetry is the stuff that you want to shout back and forth to each other across the hall. There are certain cultures that I've encountered that communicate by telling stories or telling jokes. One of them is the Jewish culture. We communicate by telling stories, by telling jokes. And we grew up in a mixed neighborhood-- an African-American and a Jewish. And we all used to play the dozens on each other, right? Just on Stony Island Avenue. And status was awarded for the ability to be witty, to be funny, and to be trenchant, right? As it is in the Italian community, as it is in the law enforcement community. You know? If you can tell a good story, if you come up wit...

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.


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

This master class gave me a better understanding of the writing business. I will take and apply the one thing rule for the day. Great Class!

Oddly enough, this was better than any theology course I took in seminary.

Reinforced lessons, beliefs and rules I know. And stressed the importance of action and discipline.

I Love the way that he made the introduction. he caught my attention


Alexis P.

Given the Churchill intro, less isn't always more. You could even have a character speak his mind perfectly in a few words in what appears to be spot on dialogue but disconnect everyone from the character, cause you introduced him as being the blah blah kind or just not witty enough to speak out his mind in great dialogue format. It all comes down to character ...

Tori O.

I love his lessons. I learned so much. It is like he is my friend giving me good tips. Thank you.

Scott J.

Midsummer Night's Dream Puck If we shadows have offended think but this and all is mended That you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear and this weak and idle theme no more yielding but a dream Gentles do not reprehend If you pardon we will mend Else the Puck a liar call And so good night unto you all Give me your hands if we be friends and Robin shall restore amends

Chad E.

I find David's points on dialog, the rhythms and poetics of speech to be very useful information. Maybe the class isn't for everyone. I find that I have to be fairly awake to follow him - If you are groggy at all, he's hard to keep up with.

Julian D.

Beau Brummell? Nobody was wittier than Oscar Wilde:


“education the worst thing to happen since kale” Spoken like a true dialogue genius. If you listen to Davids punchlines alone you will learn dialogue from a master.


Because you can't teach anyone to write great dialogue, you may as well talk about it.

Marc L.

All right I'm done. This is the worst Masterclass I've seen yet. Mamet provides nothing to actually help in your writing. What a waste of time.


the worst thing to happen since kale is a literature degree from Yale but arugula's best when put to the test and poetics could land ya in jail

Marilie B.

Kale, my horse won’t even eat it. Who decided kale is the new romaine. I have a hard time with dialogue. Probably cause I was told to not talk at the dinner table, “ it’s better to be seen not heard”. As a kid riding in the very very back of our 1979 wood paneled station wagon without a seatbelt because I’m in the section where there is no seat, like a dog that’s been to the beach. The game was who ever is the quietest gets shotgun on the way home. I’m sure my dislexia robbed me of any understanding into how my brain is not like your brain. At school, every morning after the bell rang my heart would pound visibly through my white cotton shirt, palms sweating, knees knocking. We settled into our worn wood school desks. The teacher would call on me to sit in the corner. I was to stupid to join. The kids called me stupid under their breath as I did the walk of shame to MY place in the classroom. I countered them by defeating them at every playground activity. I countered them by being pretty. I countered them by licking my lips and learning that the only thing to get me out of this hell hole was batting my lashes at just the right time. It’s funny how now when I hear someone talk about the walk of shame it takes me back to 3rd grade. Not leaving a strange house with a strange guy that looked good in the disco lights. It’s also funny how when you write or maybe it’s just me, that I get nervous like my teacher from 3rd grade is peering over my shoulder smacking a long wood ruler with a metal edge into the palm of her hand. Looking forward to my fucked up writing so she can have me in the corner as she tells the class to put their heads on their desks. Her shriveled skin hanging loose from her fingers. Mouth pursed like a sphincter. I think maybe I’ll try text to dialogue. The End As you can see there’s no dialog. And there’s no dialogue because there wasn’t any. Action was my dialogue. I didn’t speak much as a child and for that matter I still keep it quiet. I learned to quiet my mind. Keeping my interior dialogue focused on the colors of the sky. Hear the crunch of dirt beneath my footsteps I walk the winding dirt trails. Trees blowin, hair glowin. I’m pretty sure I’ve taught all my divices to be stupid too. The End Ps. I ain’t stupid.