Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#25)

In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these guidelines form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip #25
A recent article in The Atlantic magazine discusses the pros and cons of unscripted dialogue in movies. The main advantage, the writer argues, is that the spur-of-the-moment conversations produced by the liberated actors “sound more real.”

Anyone who has spent much time reading faithfully transcribed examples of “real” conversations knows that in print the disadvantages of, you know, um, like I say, the, er . . .  kind of real stuff massively outweigh the advantages. So cut and polish that dialogue fearlessly, and you’ll have people talking the way they think they do.