1. WriterOfGarnia
    Offline

    WriterOfGarnia Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0

    Anonymous characters or not?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by WriterOfGarnia, Feb 6, 2013.

    I am writing my initial chapter to my book. I want to start off with 3 different and very short scenarios which are basically Albanian Mafia vs. Police in 3 different areas of Europe. Point is how I should deal with this. I am a bit unsure about how I should write the point of view for the police officers. They all have names obviously, but I have heard that an author should try not to give names to characters that are only mentioned briefly for one scene unless it has relevance. But I don't know if not giving any of my police officers a name might be a good idea either. In movies it seems to work quite well, but idk about a book.
     
  2. tcol4417
    Offline

    tcol4417 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Sydney, AU
    Movies it works well because the use of names isn't really required.

    I've tried working with anonymity a few times and I can tell you that dialogue and describing character actions can get very frustrating when you don't have something to call them by.
     
  3. Xatron
    Offline

    Xatron Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2013
    Messages:
    576
    Likes Received:
    6
    If the character is essential to the plot then you need to either name him or give his rank or nickname or something the readers can call him. If they are just extras though and don't talk much or do anything important then you don't have to refer to them by name.
     
  4. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,722
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    One problem I see with anonymous characters is that you're telegraphing to the reader that the characters are going to die, or at least, won't be around later in the story. A character with no name is like a Star Trek character in a red shirt - he's the first to go, and everyone knows it.

    I think it's reasonable to name your characters. It adds a bit of surprise for the reader when the character dies.
     
  5. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I'm going to disagree just a tad. I've read books with similar beginnings - anonymous characters, different locations, all connected. Sometimes a character is described, and then later shows up as a named character. Other times, because it's a 'set' of actions performed by groups (the individual members of which don't matter), it's only necessary for the reader to know, by some method, that these groups are connected - then the story moves into the main body with the 'power brokers'/masterminds/named characters/etc. In this case, you might want to name the head policeman at each location, or just identify him/her by rank, even if they don't show up later. You just want to make sure the reader can recognize the police characters versus the mafia characters.
     
  6. WriterOfGarnia
    Offline

    WriterOfGarnia Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you very much everybody for the advice. Incredibly helpful and informative! I kept thinking that if I would get to name every single character, even if they weren't important and only had to do one simple action for one chapter, that the reader would get frustrated, being forced to memorize so many names with only a handful of the names actually being important. I will try to find the fine line and pronounce my characters accordingly. Thank you very much again for the advice. :)
     
  7. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    There are some classic short stories (and possibly full-length novels) where the MP has been anonymous -- "the stranger", "the man", whatever. It needs skillful handling to do that, but I certainly don't think every walk-on has to be named.
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Don't forget H. G. Wells' The Time Machine.
     

Share This Page