No matter what you’re writing, banter in dialogue can be a fun, lighthearted and endearing parts of the piece. It’s what we remember and quote from movies. It’s the moments of books that we reread over and over again. It’s the scenes in plays that have the audience rolling in the aisles.
If you’re not familiar with the term, banter is a playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks. It can be a mutual exchange between a group or even one person replying cleverly to someone who is being serious. Here are some famous examples to give you an idea of what banter can sound like – although you’re probably already familiar with many of these. After all, the more banter there is, the more good quotes get passed around.
1. The Princess Bride
An oldie but a goodie, The Princess Bride shows light-hearted banter between enemies Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and the Man in Black (Cary Elwes) as they swordfight across a rocky cliffside.
2. Ocean’s Eleven
From the 2001 film, Ocean’s Eleven, there were so many options it was hard to pick. Here’s one scene between Rusty (Brad Pitt) and Danny (George Clooney). The casual, offhanded delivery of humorous lines is a major part of this movie.
Joss Whedon’s Firefly is chock full of witty conversation. This particular moment involves Captain Malcom Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres) as they continue a dangerous (yet potentially personally fulfilling) mission.
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the banter between the characters (especially Harry, Ron, and Hermione) helps to show the reader their friendly relationship.
5. The Hobbit
To show one-sided banter, here is a conversation from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien between Gandalf and Thorin.
6. Much Ado About Nothing
Last but not least, William Shakespeare’s plays would be five-second commercials if all the clever banter were removed (even the tragedies would be significantly lighter). Even in serious moments, the characters play with double meaning or make jokes. This short conversation from Much Ado About Nothing is a good example. No wonder that play is renown for its wit!
I could add examples forever (Pride and Prejudice, Independence Day, The King’s Speech, Disney movies, and so on), but I think this gives you a good idea. If anyone has a particular good conversation (from a book, play, movie, etc), please share!