1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Introducing a narrator's nickname for a character.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by GingerCoffee, Jul 30, 2013.

    "He had on similar green clothes and heavy shoes. Their shirts differed, one had stripes on his sleeves the other’s plain."

    These are two strangers my first person narrator will be talking about in the next few pages. She doesn't know their names. I need the reader to know who is talking when she relates their dialogue so they need temporary nicknames. I'm using Plainshirt and Stripes.

    After a couple of references to "the man with..." comes the following: "“Look what she’s wearing,” Plainshirt with the metallic box to my side said.
    Stripes reached toward me and I reflexively shrank back."


    My question is, does my narrator need to say "I gave them nicknames"? Would the above wording where the nicknames are introduced without saying anything be clear without pointing it out? And do the names need single quotes when first introduced and/or every time they are used?

    "“Look what she’s wearing,” 'Plainshirt' with the metallic box to my side said.
    'Stripes' reached toward me and I reflexively shrank back."


    Thanks. :)
     
  2. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I think if you describe the clothing, the reader will understand the nicknames without further explanation
     
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  3. u.v.ray
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    u.v.ray Member

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    Surely if you've already stated that some guy is wearing a stripey shirt the reader is going to understand when he is referred to as "stripey."

    However, let's not forget sarcasm, so common in society. A bit like when there are two people in the local bar called Bob. And skinny Bob is known as Fat Bob, and fat Bob is known as Skinny Bob.

    Perhaps you could mix it up, make it interesting by calling the guy in the plain shirt "Stripey Bob" and the one in the stripey shirt as "Plain Bob."

    You know, show a bit of pizzaz! Keep the reader on their toes.
     
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  4. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Hey Ginger!

    I think that the reader should be able to pick up on the fact that Stripes and Plainshirt are nicknames without it being explicitly stated. It sounds to me like you went through the steps to establish who they are and then introduce the nicknames pretty well.

    The single quotes don't seem necessary though, as simply capitalizing Stripes and Plainshirt should be enough to indicate that the names belong to people. I would get irritated by quotes constantly around the nick names.

    Hope this helps! :D
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Thanks guys, that will do it. :D
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that just capitalizing the nicknames would do the job. However, I think that Plainshirt is a little, well, plain. I think that the nicknames could work better if they address something distinctive about each character, rather than something that is distinctive in one and missing in the other. The distinctiveness could be an opposite, I'm just imagining an opposite with perhaps more character. Random example:

    They had on similar green clothes and heavy shoes, but the first one's clothes were pressed and starched to military perfection, while the other man looked as if he'd dragged on the same wrinkled green garments every day for a week....

    "Look what she's wearing," Slovenly said.

    Starched reached toward me and I reflexively shrank back.
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    :D This gave me a laugh.

    Perhaps I will look for something a tad more creative.
     
  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What others have said, if you capitalize them, the reader will get the picture. If you think about fitting nicknames, think what the viewer, your character, would give them, what does s/he notice? "Plain" nicknames are fine if the character isn't of the type to conjure up fancier words or if you have decided that the people s/he sees don't have anything super-weird about them.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That makes good sense. :)
     
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