1. jloasis
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    jloasis New Member

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    Character names

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jloasis, Mar 30, 2013.

    I have started writing a story. I am about 5 pages into the story, and I decided to stretch my characters a bit with a character analysis. My main character is a female, and I realize that I have not yet named her in the first five pages. Is it necessary to name a character? Will the reader be able to connect with a nameless character? Might it make the reading a bit confusing?

    There are also two male characters in my story: Ethan and Aaron. I have given them names, so does this require that I also give the main female character a name. In some ways, keeping her nameless gives her an importance that the other characters do not have. I feel this is worthwhile for the direction of my story, but, again, might it be too confusing? Additionally, do characters need a last name? Do we attach to them more as readers when they have a complete name?

    I am mostly just looking for examples of stories that do not use names for some or all characters, or stories that do not use last names. What effect has anyone seen with such stories? Additionally, I am interested to know about other writers' experiences with naming characters.
     
  2. GreasyLocks
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    GreasyLocks Member

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    it's possible to get inside that character's head without using a name, for instance a lot of stories do that if they're in 1st person, Poe is particularly good at it
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Off the top of my head, I can't think of any stories where the characters don't have a first and last names, but there probably are some. I think it would be tough for the character to have no name, even just from the perspective of giving a description of the plot. Also, there are a lot of things you should know about your characters, even if you don't disclose them to the reader. I think a name should be one of those things that you should know, even if you don't have an occasion to use it in the narrative or dialogue.

    Had to smile at this -- these are the names of my two sons.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Only one story that I know of has an unnamed heroine - Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier - I think it was on purpose though because the
    first wife's personality, the Rebecca of the title, overshadowed her. She was only known as dear, darling or the current Mrs. DeWinter.

    By not naming her you might have issues on how other characters address her and wind up overwriting to
    avoid it.
    As a reader, I like to know a character's name if only not to cause confusion.
    If I don't see it, I usually get paranoid that I missed it and start backtracking.
     
  5. ChrystinaTrulove-Reyes
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    ChrystinaTrulove-Reyes Member

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    Maybe use a nickname that the other character's refer to her as? I feel the same way as peachalulu. I will go back to see if I somehow missed the character's name. A name enables me to identify who I am paying attention to. Here is a possibility: throw in another female character early on. Now if anyone has to talk to your main, they have to actually address her. Also in my experience, and from what I have read, it is often better to start the story off with dialogue. If you are not using dialogue or action, you might be putting too much backlog in the first sequence.

    I hope this helps.

    Cat
     
  6. Charlie J
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    Charlie J New Member

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    That sounds pretty cool! I personally find it very refreshing for the main character to not have a name but it has to fit the way the story is being build so it won't start bothering. Hope you can make it work.
     
  7. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    The character should be called something if there is to be any active interaction. Poe was great at creating unnamed characters, but a name must arise soon depending on the length of the story. If it is a short story (25 pages or less), you may be able to pull it off. I, personally would go no more than 10-12 pages without naming the MC in some way, even if it is not with her real name If it is a longer work, I recommend introducing the character fairly early, unless there is a beneficial/specific reason as to why it is concealed. But that is my take on things :p
     
  8. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I don't know of any books, but Uma Thurman's character in Kill Bill goes unnamed for all of part one and most of part two. She is called "The Bride" or by her codename, "Black Mamba." Before the real name is finally revealed, there were a few instances where it was said but bleeped out. I think this was to build the mystery about her character's name and also her character.

    I think it was hidden for so long to add to the effect that there is so much hidden about her character. Her past, her motivations, etc. For most of the movie we only know her from the 2 roles she has assumed, her role as a "The Black Mamba," a hitman, and her role as a "bride." When we finally hear her real name spoken by the antagonist in the climax, the remainder of her history is revealed and we see her as a person beyond the two roles. We see her as Beatrix Kiddo.
     
  9. njwh
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    njwh New Member

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    The main character in Fight Club remains nameless. The whole story is basically a concoction of thought and there is very little dialogue. This removes the obstacle of having other characters address the nameless protagonist, or narrator.
    However, the narrator remains nameless for a very particular reason, and it is entirely a plot device.

    Therefore, I wouldn't recommend unnamed characters unless it is to advance or support the plot.

    There's really only 3 other characters in the book, all of which are named; so keeping track of the characters is rather straight forward.
     
  10. kas-
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    kas- New Member

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    IMO if you have given other characters name then you should give your main female character a good name too as long as she is the main character. So,it requires,but last name is really not required. It doesn't matter i think. If you leave your main character nameless then it loses its importance. It could be fine if you don't name other characters. I've read some stories where charaters didn't have names but only they were regarded males/females. And so,reader loses interest to read the story,somewhat. Every character of the story should their profiles be described briefly or side characters aren't too important to be described briefly but just their names and their roles.
     
  11. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Boy and man were all we got from the characters in The Road.
     
  12. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of my quite important characters didn't have a name for ages, probably 15,000 words till I got bored referring to him as the Leprechaun all the time. Character A poked the Leprechaun, "Blah blah" said the Leprechaun. If I got bored I could only imagine a prospective reader...
     
  13. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Milla Jovovich's character (Alice) in the first Resident Evil movie is never named. She goes the entire movie without ever once having her name said. Even in the credits, she was nameless. So I don't think it's necessary for the main character to have a name. As long as it's perfectly logical and doesn't get confusing with who you are referring to, a name probably isn't necessary.
     
  14. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    The longer the story, the tougher it gets to write without a name, as Erebh mentioned. You can get away with it in a short story, after that, a name is needed.
     
  15. EmmaWrite
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    EmmaWrite Member

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    You should only not give a character a name if it reveals something important about their character. For example, Curly's Wife in Of Mice and Men is not given a name to show her husband's dominance over her identity. Not giving a character a name makes him or her seem weaker or lesser, and that's fine if those are the traits you want to associate with your character. Then, it helps to give them some other kind of identifier that isn't a formal name (again, see Curly's Wife.) Otherwise, give her a name.
     
  16. New Konoiche
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    New Konoiche Member

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    I remember reading a novel awhile back called It's My F*ing Birthday. Not only was the narrator/main character never named, but the author never specified the gender either. In the case of that book, it actually worked so well that I didn't even notice until a few chapters in that the character was nameless. In other words, it can definitely be done if you use first person.

    Movies have a much easier time getting away with keeping characters unnamed. For instance, in Dogtooth (which, btw, if you haven't seen it, you definitely should! It's a trip!) the characters were simply called "Mother", "Father", "Son," "Older Daughter" and "Younger Daughter."
     
  17. Vault
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    I think that leaving her nameless could, like you said, give her a bigger importance than the other two. However, the reverse could also be true, and the reader might assume that the author thought she wasn't important enough to name.
     

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