Introducing characters/imposters

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  • Introducing characters/imposters

    hey kids-

    couple of questions for you...

    - have you ever added a character list (like most playwrights do) before page 1? I have a number of characters and, as much as I like to think that people will take the time to read back on who's who, it might help just to have the names all laid out on one page. I am not worried that my script has too many characters- but I am worried about people taking 30 minutes to read an entire script. so I am trying to think ahead.

    - a detective debriefs a fellow cop and takes him through a criminal gang. tells him who's who, what their specialty is, what their backgrounds are. classic stuff. we then meet those characters later. do you intro them again? or does the intro coming from the detective's mouth serve as my (i.e. the screenwriter's) intro as well?

    - if you have a character who poses as someone else for 2/3 of the script, do you change his name accordingly once he goes undercover? or do you add the new assumed identity in the character name tab (e.g. "John" then becomes "John/Richard")

    thanks!!

  • #2
    Re: Introducing characters/imposters

    - have you ever added a character list (like most playwrights do) before page 1? I have a number of characters and, as much as I like to think that people will take the time to read back on who's who, it might help just to have the names all laid out on one page. I am not worried that my script has too many characters- but I am worried about people taking 30 minutes to read an entire script. so I am trying to think ahead.
    Every time I read a script I find myself wishing that it had a cast list, as in a stage play. Personally, I think it is a great idea. However, I have never seen a spec screenplay that had one. So I would not do it in a screenplay that I planned to send through the usual channels.

    I have a younger friend who is a real go-getter. She has written and directed two or three films for the little production company that she and her husband have. If I were writing a script for that company, I would definitely include a cast list - but I would not be dealing with the Hollywood system.

    - a detective debriefs a fellow cop and takes him through a criminal gang. tells him who's who, what their specialty is, what their backgrounds are. classic stuff. we then meet those characters later. do you intro them again? or does the intro coming from the detective's mouth serve as my (i.e. the screenwriter's) intro as well?
    It is likely that you are talking about showing pictures of the gang members and having the detective give some rundown on each one. I would wait until the characters actually appeared as actors before I did the ALL CAPS intro with age and physical description.

    - if you have a character who poses as someone else for 2/3 of the script, do you change his name accordingly once he goes undercover? or do you add the new assumed identity in the character name tab (e.g. "John" then becomes "John/Richard")
    In your scenario, the real character is already known to us, but then pretends to be someone else. I would use the assumed (new) name when the character goes into disguise. That is what Shakespeare does in Twelfth Night, where Viola is identified as Viola in the opening of the play but then becomes known as Cesario when she pretends to be a young man.

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

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    • #3
      Re: Introducing characters/imposters

      this is super helpful!
      thank you very much good sir.

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      • #4
        Re: Introducing characters/imposters

        You can give a brief reminder of who someone is if you think the reader might forget (ie, "Jessie, the drug dealer, walks in" when you briefly intro'd them as a drug dealer 60 pages earlier or whatever). It can be a good idea. Generally, people read scripts beginning to end, and they wouldn't flip back and forth to a cast list even if there was one included. Just kind of how it goes. Most of your early reads on a spec will be skims, so you want to make sure that you're keeping it clear who's who.

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