A good dramatic story is essentially an engine for establishing and releasing dramatic
potential, and you should exploit every opportunity to this end--including, perhaps most
especially, naming. Name your
characters, your places, your
things, objects, and devices, and everything else in your screenplay
deliberately, intentionally, and artfully if you want it to wow.
Why should I name everything carefully in my screenplay?
Experienced dramatic writers seeking artistic and economic success put a considerable amount of
thought into naming. They expend huge time and effort creating just the right names for
everything in their stories that can by named. They do this to establish mood, anticipation (dramatic
potential), suspense, depth,
texture, interest, intrigue, irony, and humor. They do it to make their dramatic story work.
Sophisticated screenwriters name everything carefully in their scripts because they want to play
God. That's what the screenwriter is: God of the Universe he's created in his screenplay. If
God plays jokes on us when He names people in the Universe He
created, as He most certainly does, why can't the writer do so too?
First create a 'dramatic skeleton' of meaning . .
Names of characters, places,
objects, or any other kind of names can and should be used to establish what the story is about,
theme, meaning, atmosphere, etc. Properly done, careful naming of characters, places, and
everything else in the movie will tell who's what kind of person, who's
going to do what to whom and where, what the mood is, what the genre is, emphasize the irony,
This creates a dramatic skeleton of meaning, the dialogue and action passages providing the flesh.
You can also apply what you've learned to the naming of places and things, etc.
Meaning on the subconscious level.
Viewers not given to interpreting the meaning of names, for whatever reason, will likely pick up
meaning on a subconscious level. Some may even learn about it through critical reviews, or by
studying film or screenwriting at some point in their lives, thereby enhancing their appreciation
for what goes into writing an exceptional dramatic story, and for the stories themselves.
A 'life force' of meaning.
By spending time and effort on careful naming, you infuse your story with the life force of
meaning, helping you tell your story better. A story you now know better because so much time has
been spent investigating its underlying meaning, themes, and who does what to whom and why. You
make a small story big simply by using names that connect to broader worlds.
Join the long procession of great writers.
You can benefit from that sense of accomplishment that comes from doing a job well and
You can proudly join the long procession of great writers who have carefully named their
before you, and can enjoy a bit of "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" with those who appreciate the
sophistication of your abilities and the glory of your effort.
For more on character naming see here