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Home » Archives » June 2006 » Disclaimer: A gun doesn't really make you important
[Previous entry: "looking for Burbank in all the wrong places"] [Next entry: "Laugh is a Battlefield"]

06/07/2006: Disclaimer: A gun doesn't really make you important

I had lunch with Lisa Klink today. She is the Trek writer who sent in the "Jesus was not a Zombie" example from a previous post. Delightful! She went from being a name on an office in the Star Trek building, to being a real live person eating sushi. People do that. They sometimes stop being incidental.

Characters in a script can do that too. Remember Jimmy, the gate guard in yesterday's post? Well, what if he was a minor character in your script, chirping up here and there with a "G'morning, Champ" or whatnot, and then, at the third act break, he suddenly pulls a gun and is revealed to be hugely important?

Well, clearly, he deserves a name at that point. But if you give him a name all the way through the script, you might tip the fact that he will be important later on. And you don't want to do that. You want to hide him as much as possible.

The answer is simple: you can change the way you identify a character at any point in the script. Even though it feels like you're breaking a rule, the first time you do it.

If someone you've been calling TOUR GUIDE turns out to be KEVIN, a gunman, or, let's say, um… JENNY, your main character's long-lost sister, you can do this:

Don't you know me? It's me! Jenny! Your sister Jenny!

Reginald blinks at her. Knows what she's saying is true. He backs away.

Reginald? What's wrong?

This is similar to the way you reveal the owner of an offstage voice:

Hey! What're you kids doing there?

The kids freeze, turn, and are relieved to see it's only Kyle, grinning at them from the doorway.

Did I scare you?

By allowing yourself the freedom to change the character's identification, you are allowing the reader to more closely experience what a viewer would experience: suddenly realizing that this character is transforming from a minor element to a genuine player. This makes it easier for them to go along for the journey.

I suppose there is a question about whether or not there should be a (cont'd) on that second line. That's a question for the philosophers. I say, do as you wish.

Lunch: Sushi at Echigo again. I can't get enough of that warm rice.


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