“That’s my name. Don’t wear it out.”

An important TV writing tip you’re going to ignore. It’s a fact. Our research right here at TVWriter™ shows conclusively that everybody does, and that’s really too bad:

by Ken Levine

Have you noticed that characters in television shows call each other by name waaaaay more than people do in real life? And I’m guilty of this myself. namedropping

What I’m talking about specifically are conversations between two people. It’s common to use names during greetings. “Hey, Octavio, what’s going on?” “Eustacia, you’re looking hot”, etc.

But once you get into the text of a conversation, rarely do you say the other’s person name… unless it’s to really emphasize a point, or more often, because you’re pissed at that person. “Persefone, you ran over the cat,” or “Thaddeus, you can’t sleep with the nanny.”

I understand using the convention for pilots. The audience doesn’t know who these characters are yet. And it’s a big help on ORPHAN BLACK where the same actress plays nine different roles. When Sarah and Alisson are talking about Cosima and Rachel, and they’re all the same person, names prove to be mighty handy.

But frequently we writers use names as a crutch, a way to prefix or punctuate a line. And in normal conversation people use prefixes a lot. “Look,” “Listen,,” “I mean,” “You know,” “It’s like,” Um,” and every dialogue writer’s favorite: “Well…” Sprinkling in a character’s name allows you to avoid “Well,” to begin every speech.

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