?

Is changing a name 6x too much?

  1. In pretty much all circumstances, yes.

    2 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. Maybe, depending on how much space/time you give each name.

    4 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. Not necessarily- provided you don't have a million other characters

    2 vote(s)
    25.0%
  4. No, not if you give proper space for each one- (50 pages? 100? +?

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Ms. DiAnonyma
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    Ms. DiAnonyma Active Member

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    Changing an mc's name 6x in a story...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ms. DiAnonyma, Sep 14, 2015.

    I asked a little bit ago if I was doing too much to this one character, who has an eventful life (to say the least- I was concerned about losing empathizability for the readers). But a different problem has cropped up now- I'm wondering if I'm doing too much to the reader if this character's name changes 5 or six times? There are significant reasons for each change, and some time is spent on each name- a sort of different life for the character with each name. But...

    Would this make it much harder for the reader to stay connected with the character? (Like a change in MC- only its the same person). Ultimately, the character ends up with the name that's the acronym of the previous six... a kind of symbol of the resolution he finds, coming to terms with all his twisted past, as well as the literal meaning of the name (could also possibly be his very first name- but undecided on that).

    Also, might it be too confusing if different characters call this MC by old names, depending on when they knew him? How many would be too many? (Example: sister knows him by first name, then second name for the rest of time).

    Not sure it makes much difference, but the characters lives in a magic-less fantasy world, btw (so I work on making up names that don't sound too crazy).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
     
  2. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can pull this off if it is told in first person. The reader should never be in doubt of who's talking, then.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    As long as the transitions between names is made VERY CLEAR to the reader, and probably more than once, in case they're skimming a bit, I'd say go for it.

    One of my own philosophies of writing is always strive for clarity. It doesn't matter how imaginative you are, or how wonderful your prose is, if the reader loses track of what's going on, you may lose them altogether. So when you make these changes, don't make the reader guess who the 'new' person is, unless guessing is part of the game.
     
  4. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Read Multiplex Man, it does similar things like what your talking about. Though it will have differences from yours as it is a Sci-Fi, but it explores similar concepts with the MC. Although the MC does not have control over the identity changes and there is only 3.
     
  5. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like the sort of thing Terry Pratchett could have carried off...but I suspect you're not going for comedy?
     
  6. Fernando.C
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    Fernando.C Active Member

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    This sounds like a very interesting concept. MC with multiple names, an identity crisis of sorts...This is a story I really like to read.
    To answer you question, I think you can pull this off. It's all in the execution, you know? You have to make sure that the MC's transition from one identity to another is done as smoothly as possible and in a manner that is clear to the reader. Also don't rush through the name changes, let your MC spend enough time with each new identity. It's gonna be a challenging task but it's by no means impossible.
    @Aaron Smith Suggested 1st person narrative, that's a brilliant idea. If you do this in first person then it should be pretty clear what's happening to the MC.
     
  7. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    How will readers refer to the character? What name will they search on Google? What name would be the title of a wiki page on that character?
     
  8. Ms. DiAnonyma
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    Ms. DiAnonyma Active Member

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    Thanks for all the feedback!

    First-person sounds like a neat idea- normally that would appeal more to me, but I'm not sure about that with this character... Since the sister/co-mc is pretty important, he does have to explain each change to her- hopefully that will help...
    No, not quite sci-fi or comedy- more often tragedy, probably- serial tragedy, with the MC leaving and starting new life with new name, new place, after each major catastrophe...
    Each name, however, will get adequate "treatment", (though not all have the same amounts of time, similar amounts of action and events described, etc).

    That I'm not so worried about- I always refer to him in my head by the last name he gets (the acronym one, possibly also the first), and as that just might end up as a title (not sure about that, but possible), I think it might be most likely the identity he will end up having for search engines...

    The problem I'm most concerned with is detaching the readers from the character during the story- its the same person (mostly), and not a change in MC... I think I'd consider the character more often by the first name given them, (which inclines me towards making the first name the same as the acronymous one) but I've never read/heard of any with more than one or two... When reading about a character with name changes, do you still call them by an old name in your head, or do you just roll with the changes?
     

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