Edited by Jarmila Mildorf and Bronwen Thomas
[Dialogue Studies 28] 2017
► pp. 55–76
Look who’s talking
Using transactional analysis in the writing of effective screenplay dialogue
Transactional Analysis (TA) is a theory of personality devised by Eric Berne, a Canadian psychiatrist, in the early 1960s. In particular, he ascribed specific meanings to the words ‘Parent,’ ‘Adult’ and ‘Child,’ and we suggest that these provide readily accessible ways in which screenwriters can understand the power that language possesses, and the ways in which dialogic subtext may be designed for optimum effect. This chapter seeks to connect TA with screenwriting practice to understand and put into use the effective writing of screenplay dialogue. We first provide an overview of the fundamental points of TA theory before examining examples of how dialogue between characters can be used to build the credible characterisation that is the hallmark of all good and engaging screenwriting.