I came across a fascinating article in the Guardian last week about how writers come up with names for their characters in scripts, plays, novels, even for themselves.
It’s worth a careful read. Many scripts I see are far too lazy when it comes to character names. Top of my list of faults are names that are bland, cliché, too similar, or just plain wrong.
Lazy script charaCTer names
Don’t automaticaly go for characters named David, Jane, John, Susan… Last week’s TV drama 7:39 by David Nicholls wasn’t helped by the dull names, names I can hardly remember now.
Find surprising names to avoid the clichés. Not all pensioners are called Bill and Edith. Would Mary Poppins have worked so well as Mary Smith? Or Scrooge as George Jones?
Check that you haven’t given every character in your script a similar kind of name. Vary the types, lengths, categories. Instead of Sam, Steve, Samantha and Serena, what about Sam, Osman, Ginger and Bo?
Get your script names right
Lazy name writing also means names that simply don’t add anything to the character or sabotage it. A hard-nosed detective can’t really be called Detective Sergeant Small. Unless you really want to play for laughs.
It’s worth spending the time to find names that have resonance – that special spark. A good name can make a character come to life.
Have a look at the Guardian article – Nailed It! and then try some new names out for your script… or even yourself.