Standard Format of How to Name Characters in Script

Standard Format of How to Name Characters in Script

This is one important aspect all scriptwriters should know. Every character in the script has names or attribute given to them for easy identification. In this article, I will be discussing with you the standard format of how to name characters in a script.

There are different types of characters with their names and their roles. In script, we have two types of character.

  1. The Major Character.
  2. The Minor Character.

The Major Character

This is a character that is more engaged in the script. The Major character acts the major role and they are involved in major activities in the script.

Importance of Major Character

  1. The major character performs the main activities in the story.
  2. Stories are determined by the activities of the major character.
  3. The Major character brings sweetness to the story.

Naming Major Character

Writers need to be very careful when naming characters. The name of a character must be in line with his trait and behavior or the kind of person he is. It will be wrong if writers give the wrong name to a character with a different trait. For example, Giving a hardened criminal a soft and smoothing baby-like name. For proper naming of a character, Writers need to answer the following questions.

Who is your Character?

The who in this question is requesting for more details about your character, for example, his personality, how he reacts to situations around him, is he rich or poor?  Is he arrogant or calm? etc… This question is generally asking for more information about your character and as a writer, one must get an answer to these questions before giving a name.

 What is the gender?

After answering and getting the information needed in the question above the next question the writer should answer is the gender of the character. Either male or female the writer should be able to relate the character’s personality with their gender. It absolutely won’t make sense if a feminine name is giving to a character who has a complete male personality.

Read- Character fundamentals in script writing to know more.

Minor Character

These are characters in the screenplay that appear less than the major character. They take minor or less important roles compared to the major role yet contribute to the development of the script. As a writer, don’t short-change them, but rather, take time to develop them. Each minor character must serve a purpose if not, don’t bother using them.

Importance Of Minor Character

  1. Minor characters help to add information to the story hereby pushing the storyline forward.
  2. Minor Characters give additional insight about major characters, including back-story, which will help you to avoid writing exposition.
  3. Minor characters can bring a different view to the storyline.
  4. Minor Characters serve as a mirror to the protagonist and one way or the other they help the protagonist in achieving his or her goal.

Naming Major Character

A minor character can share a name format with the major character writer should be consistent in the naming format. As a writer, if you introduce a character as COLLINS  you should use the name COLLINS throughout the script. If the Minor characters are more than one or if they are numerous give a general name to them i.e use their role to name them.

Below is the major character naming and the minor character naming format.

INT. CLASSROOM – DAY

Wale enters the class, sits on his chair. One of the students slams the table right behind him.

                                                STUDENT #1

                                    Everybody the teacher is coming!

                                                WALE

                                    Where is the teacher?

                                                STUDENT #2

                                    Look at him, right behind you.

Angrily, Wale stands.

                                                WALE

                                    Are you crazy?

                                                STUDENT #3

                                    Wale! if you fight, I will report you to the principal.

The above is an example of how to name numerous minor characters. There are some valid and acceptable character naming formats.

  • STUDENT 1  / STUDENT 2 ect.
  • STUDENT ONE  / STUDENT TWO ect.
  • FIRST STUDENT  / SECOND STUDENT  ect.

It does not matter the format you use, as far as you are consistent with the name throughtout the script.

In conclusion, As a writer, you have to stick to the names you give a character. One rule writers should avoid is mixing and matching character names.  Stick to the standard format of how to name characters in the script. Do not change the name or its format throughout your script. This rule applies to both major and minor characters.

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