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Richard Price is a novelist and screenwriter. His books explore the urban world in a gritty, realistic manner that has brought him considerable literary acclaim. Price grew up in a[…]

An ear for dialogue is a plus, Price says, but it isn’t everything

Question: How did you get involved in screenwriting?

Richard Price: The first couple of novels I wrote, The Wanderers and Blood Brothers, were picked up for movies and mistakenly and naively and shockingly naively, the filmmakers saw all the dialogue in the book and said “Wow, this guy would be a natural for screenplays,” even though a good ear for dialogue has nothing to do with being a good screenwriter. Screenplays are all about structure and momentum. If you have good dialogue, great; if you don’t have that dialogue, the actor will give it to you. He’ll make it human speech. If he doesn’t like what you’re saying, he’ll say it his own way and it’ll be better. A good ear is a plus but it’s not essential. I had a couple of offers for The Wanderers and Blood Brothers to go out there and write the scripts and I didn’t really take them on because I had a feeling I was very young and I felt like if I go out there now and start working on screenplays, I’ll never come back to novels. I waited until I had four books then I was just sort of burned out. I said I want to keep writing but I don’t know what to write about. Then I sort of called up all these people that had been proposing jobs to me over the years and I said let’s get going. Ironically, one of them was Scott Ruden who at the time I met him when they were shooting The Wanderers, was like a teenager and he was a casting director. Last week, he bought Lush Life. He buys a lot of books but he’s been kind of a patron of mine in terms of film rights for the last three books or so.

Recorded On: 3/3/08