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I was reading the Wikipedia page for The Magicians, doubtless one of the most reliable sources of information on the internet, and ran into a section naming the characters informing the reader of "Margo Hanson, equivalent to Janet from the novels. Her name was changed to avoid confusion with other names beginning with 'J'".

I've seen this several times before in renaming the characters of movies and television series derived from books, and I'm curious why it's so common. Sure, you want your characters to have distinctive names, but why is it so necessary that no two characters have names starting with the same letter?

It seems that the amount of upset one would earn from the fans of the original book by changing the name of a beloved character would more than compensate for the tiny number of viewers who would grow confused and stop watching if two characters had names with the same first letter.

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This is something I learned in screenwriting school. It makes your scripts easier to read.

I once read a script by a student that had characters named "Leo" AND "Leon". It was hard to read. That's an extreme example, but the sample principle applies. (He also had a character named "Noel", which is "Leon" backwards, but that's unrelated and didn't interfere with the readability.)

  • So it’s largely for the benefit of the actors over the audience? – TheEnvironmentalist Aug 18 '18 at 20:22
  • @TheEnvironmentalist I was taught that it's for the benefit of the reader! That could be the "script reader" for a studio or agent, whose job it is to weed out bad scripts and only approve those that have potential. It could be for the studio execs who get the scripts from the agents. It could be for the director of a script that may get made. And it could be for the benefit of the actors, as you mentioned. Scripts go through a lot of people before the actors get to see them! – BrettFromLA Aug 18 '18 at 23:55
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    It wasn’t an adaptation of The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon, I Mean Noel, was it? – Todd Wilcox Aug 19 '18 at 0:03

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