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Home » Archives » December 2007 » Naming Names
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12/01/2007: Naming Names

UPDATE: I'm told that the links in this post weren't working for some (but not all) readers. I think they should work now.

Gentle Reader Braden has expressed frustration with characters overusing each others' names in scripts. This is an interesting topic. I'm sure you know what he's referring to -- characters on film tend to address each other by name far more often than speakers do in real life.

Braden refers to actually highlighting these uses of names in the dialogue of scripts that he's reading. Ah... interesting that he references the written page. Yes, Braden, absolutely. When you're reading a script, these overuses can be very annoying, largely because you're also reading the name every single time the character says something -- in the character slug line. When you're actually watching the finished product, the overuse is less obvious and helps you learn the names of all the major players so that you know who's who when off-screen characters are referenced.

There's also, I believe, a practical reason that writers have characters overuse names the way they do. It's intimate. That's why salesmen like to call you by name. It helps us believe in a connection between the characters. I also like the way the use of name can break up sentences, creating a more unusual rhythm. You can probably think, Gentle Readers, of a way in which I even do that around here sometimes.

So, yes, Braden, it can be overdone. If you're noticing it at all, then it almost certainly is overdone. Uses of names should be subtle and almost subliminal. If they're too obviously above the statistical norm then you've got a problem. Also, since you guys are creating scripts to be read, not produced, you should be aware of what I mentioned earlier. You've got your characters' names already splashed all over your pages, so be careful. We know that's House, so we don't need to be hit with one.

Strike: I'm puzzled and a little upset by this piece posted yesterday on TV Guide online. It says that most of their reader responses are pro-studio -- an earlier draft of the story, found here even implies that only 37 percent of their readers are pro-writer. On a site specifically for TV fans? Can that be right? (No. It can't.) The piece even asks, "So, is everyone tired of the writers' demands?" Well, either this reporter is somehow getting a skewed picture of the fans' position, or I am. I discovered that it's easy to register and leave comments and vote in polls at tvguide.com. Don't you agree?

Lunch: scrambled eggs with fried tortilla pieces mixed in and lots of Sriracha sauce.


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