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Is Dialogue Overrated? Vince Gilligan Thinks It “Carries Too Much Weight”

If the narrative reigns supreme, perhaps dialogue isn’t necessary after all.

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If the narrative reigns supreme, perhaps dialogue isn’t necessary after all.


Vince Gilligan, the creative mind behind two of the most iconic TV shows, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, holds the view that if one wishes to become a better writer, they should thoroughly examine the Breaking Bad pilot and Better Call Saul screenplays. Seeking out any guidance or insights Gilligan offers on writing is a wise move. In a recent comprehensive interview with Variety, he shared valuable insights.

One particular quote from the interview garnered significant attention. When asked about the aspects of Breaking Bad he is most proud of, Gilligan expressed his admiration for the intricacies of the show’s plot. He mentioned that while crafting engaging and memorable dialogue is enjoyable, he believes that dialogue tends to receive undue emphasis in the world of movies and TV shows. He pointed out that these mediums are not akin to stage plays but rather motion pictures, and as such, the weight assigned to dialogue can sometimes be excessive. However, he acknowledged that there are still lines of dialogue created by writers that leave a lasting impression, and he takes pride in those moments.

Initially, this perspective might ruffle the feathers of dialogue enthusiasts, including myself, who cherish the idea of crafting lines that become iconic. Examples like “I am the one who knocks” demonstrate the power of well-crafted dialogue. Yet, upon deeper reflection, the idea of being recognized for crafting timeless stories rather than individual lines of dialogue appears more appealing.

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Upon further contemplation, I realized that, personally, the emotional impact of a film or TV show is less about the dialogue and more about the narrative experience. I’ve never been inspired to write a script based solely on a single line of dialogue. Instead, it’s the cinematic stories that persistently occupy my thoughts until I translate them onto the page.

For those who crave a more analytical approach, our website contains numerous articles on crafting effective dialogue and developing the narrative beats of a story. While there are undoubtedly writers who draw audiences with their exceptional dialogue, it’s the compelling storylines that ultimately keep us engaged and captivated in the world of cinema and television.

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