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  1. Phifty2
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    Phifty2 Member

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    I realized I often leave my protagonist unnamed.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Phifty2, May 8, 2009.

    Since I usually write in the first person (I walked down the stairs.) instead of the third (Bill walked down the stairs.) I find that well into the story I never even got around to revealing my main characters name. I don't mind this though and it gives an everyman feel to the character that I like.

    Does anyone else do this?
     
  2. Phifty2
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    Phifty2 Member

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    He used XXXX right? I don't mean having a substitute for a name I mean not even bringing it up, like in Fight Club.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It can be done, though I wouldn't recommend it unless you've got a very strong first-person voice. I once read a book that didn't provice the narrator's name until somewhere around page 70. Didn't phase me at all not to know his name before because the voice was so good. Then again, intros and stuff like that, that would have the narrator saying their own name, can be kind of annoying. If the name doesn't come up in dialogue in a realistic way, then it doesn't come up.
     
  4. Phifty2
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    Phifty2 Member

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    It's easy in my current project because the protagonist is stck in a desrted town where the populice has dissapeared(through sinister forces of course although he and the reader still have no idea what happened yet) so there is no interation with other characters. Plus, the reader is not quite sure who the narrator is and he's an unreliable narrator. This will change and maybe I'll give him a name but for now I like the anonimity of not knowing exactly who it is telling the story.
     
  5. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I like the idea. I never walk around saying Jay wants a drink I say I. So if it does not come up naturaly let it be
     
  6. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not usually, but Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison worked much better that way, since it was all about identity (or his lack thereof). It works sometimes; depends on the context. If you're without context, I imagine most people like a name.
    Sometimes I make sure people who have a bad or negligible relationship with my protagonist dont have names; it emphasizes my point sometimes.

    What's in a name... :)
     
  7. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Qho's afriad of Virginia Woolf? by Albee left two of the main characters unnamed (one was referred to in the script as Nick, but the name is never revelead to the audience, and the other is named Honey, but this is often used as an affectionate pet name).So yeah, it can work. Its not a big deal anyway, just adds immersion in first person.
     
  8. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Fight Club, anyone?
     
  9. Phifty2
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    I mentioned Fight Club. There was a reason he was unnamed in that. You couldn't have the big revel of him being Tyler if all through the book people were calling him Jack.
     
  10. Okie
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    I do that sometimes, just to see the look on peoples faces. It goes along with the talking to myself, and outbursts of random laughter I'm also prone to.

    I think it's fine to not name a protagonist, if the story carries without a name. It adds mystery, I guess. Sometimes it's maybe better to write less and say more?
     
  11. xxtake_controlxx
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    xxtake_controlxx Member

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    (that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet)

    Anyway, I also think it worked well in Invisible Man, which I thought was a very good book.

    But, generally, I agree that if you can keep it interesting, we don't need to know the name of the character until it comes up at some point - if it even does. In all honesty, a name really isn't very much unless you give it a meaning, and even then, most people will take it as just a name anyway. Plus, if the person is speaking, there are very few references where he or she will refer to him or herself by his or her given name. That's just awkward (almost as awkward as my last sentence). If you keep the narrative interesting, the reader probably won't even notice the MC doesn't have a name. It's the same in some books written in third person, where you get the feeling there is a person narrating the story but that person is never given a name.

    *shrugs* I don't think it takes away from the story at all, so go for it!
     
  12. Yitz
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    You know, Clint Eastwood did a whole series of westerns without a name.
    As I recall they were immensely popular and well received. Not quite the same thing, but still...
    :)
     
  13. Phifty2
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    Though not the charcters proper names he was still referred to by nicknams in each film

    In A Fistful of Dollars it was "Joe"
    I Forgot what they called him in For a Few Dollars More
    In The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (one of the greatest films ever made) he was referred to as "Blondie"

    So no, not proper names, he was still referred as thus by characters.
     
  14. Londoner
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    Daphne du Maurier didn't trouble to name the narrator of Rebecca, apart from telling readers she was the second (and thus perceived herself as second best) Mrs de Winter. The second bit of what Okie said.
     
  15. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Consider it from the reader's perspective. You, as the author, have a full image of the fellow and probably have some name or image that relates to a name or someone you know, even if a combination of personalities.

    The reader does not. A name can be a very important anchor point for a reader. While it has been said that if written very well, it can be done...the question(s) one must consider is how well written is the story, and can it endure the self-imposed hurdle.

    It was mentioned that without a name it gives an everyman's character (or something like that--I can recall the exact wording as I skimmed through the responses to this thread). I would wonder if the author was writing the main character as truly an everyman character...

    Just my two cents on the topic.

    R-Tech
     
  16. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    In a piece of dialog have someone say his name.

    Though, I don't mind if the narrator says, my name is Christopher Snow and I have a rare disease.
     
  17. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Since I write in first person, if the character's name comes up, it comes up in dialogue. Sometimes it seems almost pointless to give the MC a name b/c it's all written from first pov. I always force myself to name the MC tho b/c I know I like to know the names of characters when I'm reading... I've even gone so far as to flip through pages of other first pov novels in an attempt to figure out the name. It just creates less confusion for me, I guess, despite feeling 'forced' to give the MC a name.

    ~Lynn
     

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