“Oy, with the poodles already!”
It was the cry heard round the world. The fast-paced, quick-witted genius that was Gilmore Girls dialogue.
At that very phrase, millions of writers turn green with envy.
To write like Lorelei and Rory spoke.
I know what you’re thinking: “Yes! A how-to on dialogue worthy of Amy Sherman-Palladino.” Whelp. Sorry to disappoint, but if I knew how to write like Amy, I’d be a gazillionaire and wouldn’t be sharing my ticket to writing immortality with you all.
This, instead, is a tribute of sorts, a general musing of why a television show’s dialogue was revolutionary, and why—years later—it’s still known for it’s ground-breaking tendencies.
It’s no secret the Gilmores were funny, nay—comical, hysterical, uproarious! Their wit knew no bounds! Yet—while Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel certainly played their parts stupendously—their humor was born behind a computer screen, created by a human brain a couple of neurons.
One strength the Gilmore writers used was to build humor around their character’s personalities. Lorelei used her love of bad movies and obscure musicians, Rory her love books and Stars Hallow translations, Lane her passion for rock and roll, and Emily for disdain of all things that didn’t come from Bergdorf’s.
Note that the writers didn’t feed Luke lines about Jane Austin or Sookie jokes on scotch. (At least, none that I can remember.) Their humor fit their experiences and interests.
2. Popular Culture
I once read an article that listed every single movie ever referenced in the seven seasons of Gilmore. Want to know how many are on that list? 463. Four-hundred-sixty-three! You could watch one a night and it would still take you a year-and-a-half to see them all!
So why bring up 463 movies? Why bring up pop culture at all? Pop culture certainly isn’t necessary, or even appropriate, in all books, but I think it does help your readers connect to your characters. Think of it this way—it’s something to further bond your readers with your characters. Example: “Lorelai loves Purple Rain and I love Purple Rain! I knew she was cool.” (True story.)
If talking were an Olympic sport, the Gilmores would have gold. Apparently, one page of a script is approximately one minute of screen time. On Gilmore, one page of dialogue lasted 20-25 seconds. While this tidbit is very specific to scripts, I think it’s worth noting that fans noticed the fast-paced culture of the show that eventually became a trademark.
While this looks different in novels, I’ve often found I connect most with characters when I get caught up in scenes ripe with rapid banter. It’s in those scenes that they feel human and portray real response to real life situations.
So, now that you’re pumped about dialogue, you have two tasks to accomplish in this very particular order: Watch the Gilmore Girls revival on Friday and write till your heart’s content.
Oh, and pie! Eat some pie.