While in Nova Scotia, I met a filmmaker who was struggling with a screenplay he was writing. I advised him to do what I’ve done with my scripts: to provide the scenes, to furnish them with characters, and then to give the characters action without writing any dialogue. The idea being that dialogue is a distraction and that–unless a story can be told in visual terms–then it’s not worth telling.
I’m not sure whether this is a widely known trick, but it’s something I learned in film school from a very reputable source–namely, Alfred Hitchcock:
First we write the screenplay and then we add the dialogue.
This is either a direct quote or a paraphrase of Alfred Hitchcock; I’m not sure and I couldn’t find the reference.
This approach is certainly supported by another quote of his, however:
Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.
If you write scripts, give it a try. Give yourself placeholder actions and expressions to capture the energy, the emotions of your characters within each scene. This is the key to good visual storytelling; the dialogue itself, though often witty, should never be the central focus of your story.
The filmmaker seemed very taken with the advice, so I hope that I helped him.