I friend of mine shared a piece of advice she got from her therapist: “Don’t focus on what he says, but on what he does”.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot.
A great reminder for me that dialog is not all.
Now it is typically me to relate things like this to screenwriting, but these kinds of stories have very much to do with human relations. I guess it is not that odd that I put a therapist’s wise word into another context.
As I said, dialog is not all. A character can say one thing, but it is what he does that counts. If a character says “I’ll paint the barn”, but he never does, we make a conclusion – for one reason or another – this man just talk, and doesn’t act.
Dialog is only half of the character and I need to remember that when I write. Characters can very well say one thing and do another, but I have to be aware of the contradiction and not stare myself blind of what is said.
I was about to write that there is no way to tell if acting is more "true" than talking, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that it is what you do that defines you.
Sure, acting could be deceiving – a character can show with all his appearance that he is in love, just to serve a purpose - but if you look upon a character, ordinary and general, without any manipulation in mind, isn’t it what he does that counts? If he says he’s going to paint the barn, for the third time and the barn is still not painted, you know the barn will remain that way. And the other way around: He says every year he will not join the anniversary party, but still he comes.
“Don’t focus on what he says, but on what he does.”
That phrase will become very useful to me as well.