Television writing explained by award winning writer and poet Larry Brody, legendary writer-producer of 1000s of episodes of TV.
Excellent article on the mistakes people make when writing dialogue and how to write more effective dialogue, an excerpt:
Mistake #1: Characters use each other’s names all the time.
“Bob, I’m so sorry I ran over your cat.”
“Jenny, what are you, an idiot?”
Maybe Jenny would use Bob’s name in this situation, to soften the blow of her bad news. But why would Bob interrupt the explosion of his anger by using her name? He wouldn’t.
Writers overuse characters’ names as a form of exposition; it’s a simple way to let us know who’s talking. But in real life when you know someone well you almost never use their name. When you do, it’s usually for emphasis.
A simple rule of thumb (and there are always exceptions): For each page of dialogue don’t use character names more than once.
Mistake # 2: Forcing characters in high context relationships to speak low context dialogue.
What are high context/ low context relationships?
People in a high context relationship know each other very well. For example: married couples, siblings, business partners, or roommates. Married couples do not need to tell each other how old they are, how many children they have, or how long they’ve been married. When/ if they do, the reader experiences this as false. People who know each other have a wonderful short hand to their dialogue; they assume a great deal. This is very interesting for the reader because we get to try to read between the lines. Much is inferred in high context dialogue. That inference engages the reader, we prick up our ears and pay close attention. For an excellent example of this, look at the first scene in David Mamet’s play: Glengarry Glen Ross.
Low context relationships occur between people who don’t know each other well. For example: you and your doctor or lawyer, the prosecutor and the accused, a cop and a suspect, a new neighbor introduced into a decades old poker game. In all of these relationships it is natural to ask direct questions and solicit information.
You can create these situations in order to get a great deal of exposition out quickly. This is why low context relationships are so important and why you’ll find them used to great dramatic effect. Think of police and medical dramas, courtroom dramas, narratives based on the new kid in town.
(The article goes on)