Su-City Pictures East, LLC

Screenplay & Film Consulting By Susan Kouguell

Month: January 2015

“Tips on Writing Dialogue That’s Truthful” (SCRIPT MAGAZINE)

Tips on Writing Dialogue That’s Truthful

Click to tweet this article to your friends and followers!writing-dialogue


(to Riggan. A derisive laugh)
You’re no actor. You’re a celebrity. Let’s be clear on that.

Tabitha rises from her seat and grabs her things.

I’m going to kill your play.

In Birdman, (directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, screenplay by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Armando Bo) theatre critic Tabitha is despicable. She knows it. Protagonist Riggin knows it. And what makes matters worse is that in these four lines, Riggan knows in his very soul that Tabitha is telling the truth. The truth hurts. Riggin is struggling with his celebrity and all that comes with this label. He wants to be respected as an actor, not for his celebrity. The words flowing from your characters’ mouths should be true to who they are. Whether your characters are telling the truth or lying, or believe they are being accurate or not, when you, the screenwriter, have a deep understanding of your characters’ motivations and behaviors, the more believable your dialogue will be. Good dialogue clearly conveys emotions, attitudes, strengths, vulnerabilities, and so on, while revealing the details of your plot and advancing your narrative.

Ten Top Tips to Writing Truthful Dialogue

  1. Make every word of dialogue count. Often less is more and the less said can be more poignant.
  2. Readers should be able to identify who is speaking without needing to read each character heading. Characters’ voices must be distinctive and not interchangeable with other characters.
  3. Consider the silences and pauses your characters use, or another character’s interruptions, to further convey tensions, actions, moods, and emotions.
  4. How your characters listen or don’t listen to each other and respond or don’t respond to each other will enhance your dialogue.
  5. Dialogue must not sound wooden or stilted. In real life, most people do not always speak with flawless grammar in complete, formal sentences.
  6. Use contractions, colloquialisms, slang, and so on, when true to your characters.
  7. Characters can speak in verbal shorthand and finish each other’s sentences and thoughts, such as with family members and best friends.
  8. Watch out for on-the-nose dialogue. In real life, people don’t always say exactly what’s on their mind or say what they mean and neither should your characters.
  9. Do your research. If your character is discussing medical issues, for example, or if you’re writing a period film, accuracy is essential.
  10. Writing character biographies for all of your characters will not only enable you to learn more about who they are and what makes them tick, it will help you to determine their specific word choices and language usages, such as slang, speech patterns, and rhythms.







Many screenwriters share something in common.  Is it the agony and ecstasy of writing?  Well, for some yes, but for most –it’s about finding an agent, and when you do, finding the right one for you.

Indeed — finding an agent can be considered a full-time job. Not only have you written a brilliant screenplay but now you must write and submit queries, network and then network some more, and research agencies and agents that are the right match for you and your work.  Added to that is the endless time involved and sleepless nights, waiting for a response.  This journey can be challenging, often frustrating, nearly impossible, clearly nerve-wracking and nauseatingly gut-wrenching.

But then – alas.  You get the call. The email.  The response. An agent is interested in representing you!  Hallelujah. Congratulations! Break out the champagne.  Do the happy dance.  But don’t lose your common sense!

Yes, it’s wonderful that an agent has expressed interest in representing you, but do not jump into a relationship without making sure the agent is a good fit for you and your work.

Tips on Choosing an Agent

Read more:



Susan’s: Love is Strange – Obstacles and Relationships, and Not So Strange Love

Love is Strange

Obstacles and Relationships, and Not So Strange Love

love is strange


In film, as in real life, misunderstandings and embarrassing and awkward moments are just some of the many situations couples can find themselves in when it comes to love relationships. Couples can be soulmates or polar opposites, come from the same or different backgrounds and/or social classes, have too different or too similar temperaments, and/or find themselves brought together by an odd set of circumstances without which they would not have normally even spoken.

The obstacles a couple must face can bring them together or force them apart.

In the award-winning film directed by Ira Sachs Love is Strange, co-written by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, the obstacles longtime couple Ben and George enounter drive the narrative forward, posing the question:

How will Ben and George overcome their many hurdles in order to live together once again?

To read more:






Great to see old friends and colleagues at the NYFCC Awards.

A few photos from last night…

Photo credits: Tatiana Kouguell-Hoell

2015-01-05 06.45.25


2015-01-05 07.05.56

Timothy Spall

2015-01-05 07.11.34

Ethan Hawke

2015-01-05 07.12.16

Richard Linklater

2015-01-05 07.19.06

Jon Stewart


2015-01-05 06.10.09

Patricia Arquette

2015-01-05 06.27.39

J.K. Simmons

2015-01-05 06.20.15

Bill Murray

2015-01-05 05.54.13

Nick Offerman

2015-01-05 06.08.07

Ellar Coltrane


2014 Awards (From:

Best Picture
Best Director
Richard Linklater
Best Screenplay
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Actress
Marion Cotillard
The Immigrant, Two Days, One Night
Best Actor
Timothy Spall
Mr. Turner
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette
Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons
Best Cinematographer
Darius Khondji
The Immigrant
Best Animated Film
The LEGO Movie
Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary)
Best Foreign Film
Best First Film
Jennifer Kent
The Babadook
Special Award
Adrienne Mancia