Body actions as Don Corleone gives a speech at the meeting of the five families.

Body actions as Don Corleone gives a speech at the meeting of the five families.

The scene is under 5 minutes.

He says 341 words.

But look at how much body movement there is in what is basically a short speech.


First, the words:

“How did things ever get so far? I don’t know. It’s so unfortunate, so unnecessary. Tattaglia lost a son and I lost a son. We’re quits. And if Tattaglia agrees, then I am willing to let things go on as they way they were before.”

(Bardzini speaksa few mines; Tattaglia speaks a few lines.)

“When? When did I ever refuse an accommodation? All of you know me here. When did I ever refuse, except one time? And why? Because I believe this drug business is going to destroy us in the years to come. I mean, it’s not like gambling or liquor, or even women, which is something that most people want nowadays and is forbidden to them by the pezzonovante of the church. Even the police departments that have helped us in the past with gambling and other things are gonna refuse to help us when it comes to narcotics. And I believed that then – and I believe that now.”

(Bardzini speaks briefly; another boss speaks briefly. Bardzini speaks again, briefly.)

“I hoped that we could come here and reason together. And as a reasonable man, I’m willing to do whatever’s necessary to find a peaceful solution to these problems.”

(Bardzini speaks briefly; Tattaglia speaks again. Bardzini speaks again, briefly.)

“You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance gonna bring your son back to you? Or my boy to me? I forego the vengeance of my son. But I have selfish reasons.

“My youngest son was forced to leave this country because of this Sollozzo business. All right. And I have to make arrangements to bring him back here safely, cleared of all these false charges. But I’m a superstitious man. And if some unlucky accident should befall him – if he should get shot in the head by a police officer, or if he should hang himself in his jail cell, or if he’s struck by a bolt of lightning – then I’m going to blame some of the people in this room. And that I do not forgive. But that aside, let me say that I swear on the souls of my grandchildren that I will not be the one to break the peace that we’ve made here today.”


Now, the beats:

  • He is standing.
  • Sits
  • Scoots chair forward
  • Put one hand on the table
  • Waves his hands
  • Clasps his hands
  • Shrugs
  • Looks down
  • Waves hand
  • Leans back in the chair
  • Waves with his left hand
  • Shifts his weight in the chair
  • Hooks his left hand over the back of the chair
  • He is served a glass of water and he shrugs it off
  • With both hands mildly
  • leans his head to the right
  • Raises his eyebrows
  • Lifts his right hand
  • Leans forward
  • Puts arm on the table
  • Points
  • Looks back and forth
  • Points
  • Taps the table
  • Nods
  • Leans back
  • Waves his hand
  • Nods
  • Plays with a button on his vest
  • Waves hands
  • Leans back
  • Looks back and forth
  • Leans forward
  • Put one hand on the table
  • Leans forward
  • Points at group
  • Glares
  • Taps his heart
  • Waves his hand across the table
  • Hooks his arm back over the chair
  • Points
  • Glares
  • Rubs his nose
  • Stands up
  • Shift his weight
  • Nods
  • Looks down
  • Cocks his head
  • Sticks his jaw out
  • Voice gets a little firmer
  • Glares
  • Kind of chews his lip
  • Shrugs
  • Leans back
  • Put his hand on his chest
  • Holds his hands out


I know, I know. It’s Marlon Brando and he’s a big famous actor. He has to move around during a speech – even a short one – to keep it from getting boring.

I get it.

Your characters need to move during their dialogues, too.

Look at the way Brando emotes such much drama into so few words, with pauses and inflections, and look at all the actions.

It’s just a way to say, if you are going to write, watch how people move when they speak. If you’ll watch great actors, you’ll get more than enough ideas for actions to include during your characters’ dialogues.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

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