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Old 11-12-2013, 06:16 PM   #1
superexistence
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Default Person's name changes

In the script I'm writing, a man is introduced to this girl called Nina. The Next scene he discovers that her real name is Brooke. What do I do about her name in the script? Do I start off with the fake name until the real name emerges?
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Old 11-12-2013, 06:44 PM   #2
bjamin
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Default Re: Person's name changes

You could always go with the fake name until the reveal so the reader learns her real ID at the same time the audience and the character learns.
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: Person's name changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by superexistence View Post
In the script I'm writing, a man is introduced to this girl called Nina. The Next scene he discovers that her real name is Brooke. What do I do about her name in the script? Do I start off with the fake name until the real name emerges?
Hmm. A lot of folks on this site say there are no rules, so here's a two cents' worth that may be easy for a reader to keep up with your character's name change:

If she begins as NINA, then that is her dialog title until the reveal occurs to the reader (and perhaps the other main character).

Once the reader is made aware that you have two names for one character, my suggestion would be to use NINA (BROOKE) until she is known as Brooke, at which point I would suggest using BROOKE (NINA).

This might constantly remind the reader that the twain are one in the story, which is preferable to losing the reader over simple name confusion.

In the story, is the discovery of Nina's true identity made public? Or does only one of the main characters discover this name?
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Old 11-13-2013, 03:39 AM   #4
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Default Re: Person's name changes

People have asked this question countless times in the years that I have been on the board.

And the answer is ... uh, it depends. Really, there just is not one answer that covers all situations.

I do not see any point in keeping the reader "in the dark" about someone's real identity for one scene.

But, then, I am not a big advocate of keeping a script reader ignorant of who is who. Some people like to do that, but I always see a script in terms of how to film it. How well does the dialogue work? Is the plot good? In other words, I do not place the reader into a "non-filmmaker role."

Of course, it is perfectly all right to take a different view of all this.

If you really want to hide the true identity of your character, just call her Nina and then change the name to Brooke when it is time to do that. At least that is a simple approach.
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Old 11-13-2013, 09:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: Person's name changes

on the reveal just do it like Tiger Fang suggested, but I'd suggest holding off until the reveal:


NINA
I like smoothies.


LATER


NINA
I lied. My names Brooke. And I hate smoothies with a passion.

PETER
I don't believe it. You lied to me.

BROOKE (NINA)
(jazz hands)
chicken pot. chicken pot. chicken pot pie

Last edited by bjamin : 11-13-2013 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 11-13-2013, 02:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: Person's name changes

Agree with the other advice but would add that it also depends a bit on context and whether it's a reveal just for the characters or whether it's a reveal for the audience as well. Sometimes the audience knows a character's real name when some of the other characters don't, so how you handle it will also depend on that. However you do it make sure there is no ambiguity.
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Old 11-13-2013, 05:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: Person's name changes

[quote=TigerFang;886247]Once the reader is made aware that you have two names for one character, my suggestion would be to use NINA (BROOKE) until she is known as Brooke to the audience, at which point I would suggest using BROOKE (NINA).[quote]

A clarification of my comment.

Is this name change integral to the storyline? If not, it's a device that may only add complication (for readers and moviegoers). Or perhaps the name NINA is used only to highlight a troubled past and then we as readers and/or moviegoers don't need to remember the name Nina, only the name Brooke. If the latter is the case, may I suggest using only the name BROOKE over dialogue and in description if the name Nina becomes irrelevant early on.
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Old 11-20-2013, 10:01 AM   #8
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Default Re: Person's name changes

I have a character with two identities. I never change her original identity though. The second identity is very subtle and she uses it to hide certain aspects of her life from key individuals. I've simply shown this second identity through the use of a driver's license, passport, and mail delivered to a house she rents with that identity. Her second name is mentioned in dialogue only once.

I didn't see the need to use her second identity as an actual character since it never alters who she is to anyone other than herself.

Does this make sense? Or is there another way I should handle this second identity?
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: Person's name changes

I remember in the script for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Shane Black handled it with amazing clarity as the identities of the two hitmen chasing the protagonists evolved. It's been a bit since I read it, but he identified them first (in description and dialog) with traits or items associated with them, then changed that over clearly in description and dialog tag as things went on. It was almost like he made a game out of it, which naturally made it fun to read as well.
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Old 12-10-2013, 05:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Person's name changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by ComicBent View Post
People have asked this question countless times in the years that I have been on the board.

And the answer is ... uh, it depends. Really, there just is not one answer that covers all situations.

I do not see any point in keeping the reader "in the dark" about someone's real identity for one scene.

But, then, I am not a big advocate of keeping a script reader ignorant of who is who. Some people like to do that, but I always see a script in terms of how to film it. How well does the dialogue work? Is the plot good? In other words, I do not place the reader into a "non-filmmaker role."

Of course, it is perfectly all right to take a different view of all this.

If you really want to hide the true identity of your character, just call her Nina and then change the name to Brooke when it is time to do that. At least that is a simple approach.

Whenever I hear this point of view, all I can think of is a section of Psycho written this way:

INT. THE BATHROOM, NIGHT

Marion is in the shower, the shower running.

Unnoticed by her, the door to the bathroom opens. A figure enters, cautiously approaches, pulls back the curtain.

It's Norman, disguised as his Mother. He proceeds to stab Marion repeatedly as she screams in horror, struggles.

Finally, he flees --


Something wrong with the above? I think so.

I think that when you give the *reader* information that the viewer at the time doesn't have, you're potentially creating some serious confusion about what the *audience* is supposed to know or not know at any particular point.

Ultimately, when a script is broken down for production purposes, everybody involved is going to know everything about a script. Production will know that the character who comes in through the door is really Norman and that there is no actual Mother.

But you certainly don't want to reveal, in the screenplay, that it's Norman dressed up as his mother at that point in the script, given that this is the big surprise reveal that doesn't happen until the very end.

I'm always in favor of clarity and it seems to me that the purpose of each particular scene is to convey to the reader whatever information that that particular scene is supposed to be conveying to the audience.

If you give a reader more information in a particular scene than that scene is supposed to be conveying to the audience, not only does it interfere with the script in terms of the work as a piece of story-telling, it also potentially creates confusion as to when exactly any given particular piece of information is supposed to be conveyed to the audience.

If somebody reading the script gets confused as to whether Nina and Sheila are the same person, then the writer has done a bad job of conveying that fact.

If whatever software generating the cast list gets confused about it, then whoever is doing the cast list needs to know what the heck the script is about and make the appropriate adjustment.

NMS
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