1. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Introducing a name...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SuperVenom, May 21, 2013.

    Quick question. I always have to think about this but (im working in 3rd person POV) is it a good idea to introduce the name of the MC's straight away in the text or wait until another character says their name or clues are given. It just sometimes seems wrong for us to blurt it out.

    Ie: John walked up to the bar and fainted.
    or A stranger walked up to the bar and fainted, carefully the barmaid read the name on his badge. "John." she said to the confused crowd.

    So what I guess im asking is can we just hit the road running with the names?
     
  2. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    The way i introduce is with action.

    Example: One of my MC's is in third person and he is introduced as a white wolf brawling with a black wolf in a castle corridor. (gets reader wondering about the setting) then all of a sudden a man just walks up and interrupts them, calling them by name and saying they need to get going to a court meeting. (names are introduced -case closed!)

    Another case is the fact that you just have your char react to something and use his name, piece of cake!

    Example: John burst out laughing, pounding his fist against the bar and struggling to keep from snorting up there beer he had been drinking at that moment.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Nothing wrong with either method.
     
  4. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    It is advisable to introduce names at the first importunity. Some say at the very moment a character enters the scene. I think it's probably best to name your characters before their introductory scene is over.
     
  5. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Cool thanks guys, i just feel that blurting out the name felt wrong. I can see it isn't but its that little niggling feeling in the back of the head.
     
  6. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I think about this a lot too and probably give it more attention that it deserves. I try to mention my POV's name early through narration. For all other character names, I like to introduce them through dialogue. Honestly it doesn't matter much. Unless you're hiding a character name for the sake of plot, then any method is fine as long as the reader can follow.
     
  7. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is what I do as well.
     
  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    At the beginning of the novel, it's a good idea to introduce it right away. For some reason it helps with identifying with the MC. I don't see the point in "keeping it a secret." I mean, the author can come up with better hooks than that. It doesn't feel like blurting, if you start the whole thing with something like,

    Two hours ago, Harry Baxter killed a man.

    Of course you don't have to, but earlier the better. In short stories I feel it's "forgivable" to hold back the name. But when a new chartacter walks in, I also like to introduce them through dialogue if they aren't POV characters (but I take it that since you talked of MC, they have POVs...). Otherwise I'd usually just start with the name, as I did in the case of this mechanic:

    Amélie Prideaux hadn’t been to a class II ranger ship before...


    Maybe it's blurting, but sometimes I do stuff the way I like to see it in other books.
     
  9. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I think there's a lot of personal style involved in this quandary. I think different things will work for different people and different situations.

    In my main WIP, I'm writing in third person limited. As such, I let the reader in on everything the person being followed knows and the reader gets to learn new information alongside them. I try to reveal that main individual's name as soon as possible (the vast majority of people know their own names after all). My main character's name comes up in the second sentence of the very first chapter. However, one of my main supporting characters' names isn't mentioned until chapter two even though she's a prominent figure up till then. It isn't until then, though, that she introduces herself.

    I guess my answer, at least, boils down to which character you're asking about and what type of PoV you're using. An omniscient PoV would allow you to just throw names around willy-nilly. Limited PoVs, I think, call for different tricks to employed.
     
  10. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    I do much like KaTrain does, I start off using the characters full name. this way I have two names to go by if I find myself using Him/Her/his/hers/he/she and (Characters first name) way too often
    but yes, I personally introduce them usually in one whole paragraph.
     
  11. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Introducing through dialogue is mostly what I do, i get stuck when the new character is the only person in the room. I know i shouldn't but i feel like telling the name so blatantly is just harsh. Jut me i suppose lol.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it depends on the situation and the mood you're trying to create. My default position is to introduce the character's name as soon as possible, but there are times when it might be more effective to hold it back. I once wrote a story set in an alternative-history Old West in which the reader doesn't learn the MC's name until it appears on a wanted poster. I thought it worked, but even then, the wanted poster appeared pretty early on.

    I get slightly annoyed when I'm reading a story in which it's plain that the writer is deliberately holding back the MC's name for no good reason. I hate reading "the man did this" and "the man did that" endlessly. Tell me his damn name, already! If the name is held back too long, the prose just seems clunkier and more self-conscious with each passing paragraph.
     

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