REVEALING CHARACTER NAMES LATER
This is a picky technical script question I just can’t seem to resolve on my own.
When writing with the reader in mind, suppose you have the early appearance of a character who must remain a mystery to the viewing audience, until later. Do you use the actual character name of the character at that point in the script, thereby spoiling it for the reader?
For instance, in Dickens Christmas Carol, the ghost of Jacob Marley shows up in Act I, but suppose his identity was to remain unclear to the audience until he made a return in Act III, Would the character in Act I be something like GHOST, to be cleared up later? And once it is known by all who he is, would we continue with GHOST or transition to MARLEY or GHOST/MARLEY or handle it some other way ?
Bryan from USA
This is a common question to which there is no good answer. There is no hard and fast rule other than this: DO NOT CONFUSE YOUR READER. Anything you do which confuses the reader is a bad thing and readers are easily confused. They are usually under a great deal of pressure to push through your script. If they have to stop and go back to understand something, you have already lost the battle.
Given that one golden rule, you are already damned by the mere existence of this character. Nevertheless, if it is important to your story, you need to pick one of the less-than-perfect solutions and use it. You are probably better to transition to GHOST/MARLEY, but even then, you may lose the readers later when they see only MARLEY. If MARLEY is the only ghost, you might even continue to call him GHOST even once his name is revealed. After all, he is still a ghost.