Delivered by Simon Marshall

Making Protest Personal: Using Dialogue in Spoken Word & Scriptwriting

Published Friday 29th May 2020
If you're interested in developing your scriptwriting skills, watch this workshop video with Derbyshire based poet Simon Marshall to find out how to use dialogue in personal and political writing.

Read further tips and notes from the video below…

If we think of activism as the amplification of an underheard voice – what do you really want to say?

Think about what your themes are as a writer – what you’re drawn to writing, thinking, talking about. This becomes your mission statement as a writer, what you want to see change & what your ‘activism’ is.

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When you’re writing dialogue, have a think about what it really is… A chat. A conversation.

Are you writing characters who are in agreement, conflict or exploration?

A basic way into dialogue is to read it out, and sense whether it’s something you could believe overhearing.

With a poem, what tools do you have at your disposal? Your language, your use of rhythm, imagery and articulation.

Think of a political piece of writing as chance to give voice to those overlooked or left-behind.

In a poem, or a spoken word piece, the introduction of another voice is often an aggressor – the poet is defending themselves from.

Button Poetry have great examples of dialogue in poetry: ‘To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang’ by Rachel Rostad is a great example.

Creating Content

One way into writing is bit by bit like a puzzle. Treasurehunting.

To get a prompt: try one of the last words of the last text or message you received.

What would happen if it was said in agreement with someone else? Or in Conflict? Or to Explore?

Can you build a stage direction to give an idea of where they are?

Does the line indicate that something dramatic may be revealed later on?

If you’re looking for inspiration on someone who has made their political feelings personal, Greta Thunburg’s life is accidentally really theatrical.

Try writing a poem from her perspective.

Remember: Write the story that needs telling!