by Michael Chasin, Screenwriting Mentor, IAFT – Miami
The power – and fun – of writing an original screenplay is the ability to create a world – including creating the characters that live in that world.
A well-considered part of that creation is the naming of those invented characters – with names that will help inform the audience about who those characters really are.
In the film Thief, no-B.S. jewel thief Frank declares, how am I, I’m Frank – which is not only his name, but also who he is as a person – frank and straight-to-the-point.
A name can be invented to dramatize a character in conflict with their environment.
The hero of Electra Glide in Blue is a motorcycle cop in the scorching, grey, Arizona desert named – John Wintergreen.
A reasoned name has the ability to make a hero’s opponent more powerful.
Rocky had to defeat not just another boxer but Apollo Creed – an Apollo, a God.
While the above uses may exist on a more subliminal level, names can be used to simply reinforce the occupations of characters.
As a spade is used for digging, so too does a detective dig, searching for the truth.
The hero of 1941’s Maltese Falcon is one of the screen’s most famous detectives, Sam Spade.
More than 70 years later that character naming device is still in use.
In The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, magicians Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton provide us with magical wonder and marvel.
Creating a world is fun.
Creating names is a craft.