Person's name changes

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  • 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?

  • #2
    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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    • #3
      Re: Person's name changes

      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?
      "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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      • #4
        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.

        "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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        • #5
          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, 03:26 PM.

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          • #6
            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.
            "Friends make the worst enemies." Frank Underwood

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            • #7
              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.
              "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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              • #8
                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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                • #9
                  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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                  • #10
                    Re: Person's name changes

                    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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                    • #11
                      Re: Person's name changes

                      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.
                      Yes, calling the figure Norman could make things unclear as to whether the audience is supposed to see Norman in drag, obviously made up as his mother.

                      But in this case I would not argue to identify the character as Norman. The slasher is just an unidentifiable figure who does something and is quickly gone. You do not have to identify someone like this with a name. In fact, the part may actually be played, not by the actor portraying Norman, but by anyone. A description as an "unidentifiable figure" will suffice, and the whole thing becomes a nonissue.

                      Best ...

                      "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Person's name changes

                        Originally posted by nmstevens View Post
                        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
                        Hang on a minute. Are you suggesting PSYCHO is badly written?
                        Story Structure 1
                        Story Structure 2
                        Story Structure 3

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                        • #13
                          Re: Person's name changes

                          It's a little difficult to compare that scene in PSYCHO to someone writing a spec. Stefano and Hitchcock didn't have readers in mind while writing the script; they wrote it for themselves knowing the movie was going into production. I guess it's okay to use the scene as an example of what not to do for a spec in light of the OP's question, but I don't think there's anything wrong with it given the circumstances of that particular film.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Person's name changes

                            NMS made up that, to show how giving up the trick then would be a bad idea.

                            It is not the scene as written in the screenplay.

                            I hope this clears it. Once a post of mine was misinterpreted and then people followed up commenting on that interpretation and then... and....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Person's name changes

                              Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
                              Yes, calling the figure Norman could make things unclear as to whether the audience is supposed to see Norman in drag, obviously made up as his mother.

                              But in this case I would not argue to identify the character as Norman. The slasher is just an unidentifiable figure who does something and is quickly gone. You do not have to identify someone like this with a name. In fact, the part may actually be played, not by the actor portraying Norman, but by anyone. A description as an "unidentifiable figure" will suffice, and the whole thing becomes a nonissue.

                              Best ...
                              Yes, but prior to this, there are any number of scenes in which we *hear* the character that we are obviously supposed to believe is Norman's mother. We hear her voice coming from the house. We hear Norman, presumably, arguing with her.

                              Now, according to the advice that you just gave (and correct me if I'm wrong), since this character *isn't* actually Norman's mother, but is actually Norman himself, pretending to be his mother, and since this is, after all, merely a production document, then the script should appropriately identify both voices as that of "Norman" -- and not bother trying to conceal the fact by identifying the character as "Norman's Mother" --

                              -- thus blowing the surprise ending of the movie the very first time "Norman's Mother" speaks -- and likewise confusing the question of whether we're supposed to actually think that we're hearing an old woman speak or supposed to *understand at the time* that it's Norman imitating the voice of an old woman and in fact, we're merely hearing a man speaking to himself.

                              If that's what you're suggesting -- and it seems that it is -- that I'm afraid I must stick to my guns and disagree.

                              NMS

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