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Screenwriting : Using two character names in a script by Beth Zurkowski

Beth Zurkowski

Using two character names in a script

Hi I'm writing a script and it has characters with two names each because they are other characters in a LARP game. But my writer's group finds this confusing. Should I use two names? And if yes how do I do it both in the character sheet and the story? I'm using Matt (Merlyn).

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

Just use one name. I agree with your writing group, it would read confusing.

Shawn Speake

Hey, Beth! Happy Memorial Day Weekend! What did your writers group suggest?

Beth Zurkowski

One suggested I write in the action something like Matt was acting as Merlyn. Two others just said I was confusing them.

Beth Zurkowski

Hey Shawn happy memorial day to you too.

Shawn Speake

I'd use one name too. Use description if you need to, but the moment you lose your readers, it's a wrap for the story! Think Primal!

Beth Zurkowski

Okay thanks Shawn and Jean-Pierre

Eoin O'Sullivan

Hi Beth. As mentioned, use one character name. There are other devices you can use to show that the LARP name the character uses, like showing the action on screen with characters avatar and the alternate name will be on screen. I'm sure you can think of similar ways to show the same information. Clarity is key, avoid confusion when possible. Kind Regards, Eoin

Beth Zurkowski

Do you guys know any script examples I could use?

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

I have done this in my spec, 'Heaven's Earth'. Just explain in your intitial introduction that the character AVATAR'S NAME is an avatar for CHARACTER'S NAME. You can see my spec (it's uploaded, for now, on my loglines page, and I LOVE feed-back...even the dangerously close to 'this part sucks' honest type of feed-back).

Eoin O'Sullivan

Hi Beth, I can't think of any of hand, perhaps have a read of Avatar, to see how the transition between Jake and his Avatar are handled. As a very rough example: INT. MATT'S BEDROOM - NIGHT MATT (30s) a vision of hipster chic, slouches in a recliner. A headset frames his face, illuminated by the glow of a widescreen TV. He taps on a game controller. ON SCREEN: A game of 'Dragon Age' is underway. Matt's avatar, MERLYN, clad in medieval armor, slashes at opponents with a broadsword. BACK TO SCENE: Matt's eyes light up, he yanks on the headset mic. MATT Got you so bad that time bro. CALEB (V.O.) Your luck is about to run out. Kind Regards, Eoin

Patrick Wijsman

There is "Ready Player One." A screenplay bought by Warner Bros and Steven Spielberg currently attached to it. In here, there's a character named Wade who's better known as Parzival in an online virtual reality game. The writer avoided confusing by using two names that doesn't look alike (a nice trick is that one of them has only one syllable, the other three) and to put in the Scene Heading when the character's in the real world, or in the fantasy one.

Heather Dollar

Makes me think of "The Guild" with Felicia Day. To my knowledge their scripts aren't available online for reference, but they primarily use the avatars' names. I would stick with whatever your main characters call each other - if the LARP game/player interactions are your primary focus, using those names reinforces the idea that LARP is more important to them than the outside "real" world. In a functional sense, their legal names would become nicknames.

Beth Zurkowski

Thanks guys for the help. You all make some excellent points.

Tshepo David

Use one name. Example MATT#1 and MATT#2

Beth Zurkowski

Hmm Tshepo. Interesting idea. Thanks.

Elisabeth Meier

I don't find it confusing as long as both names begin with the same letter as you chose it (Matt and Merlyn). The trick then is not to use any other name beginning with M.

Beth Zurkowski

I looked at the play Noises off. When an actor spoke the writer used the actors name and when the character spoke the writer used the character's name. Hows that for confusing?

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