1. Garfiun
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    Garfiun Member

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    Is this ok?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Garfiun, Jul 11, 2010.

    My main character is talking to a friend of his, but I don't really want to use his name or describe him until a little bit later in the story.

    Does this sound OK?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The main character or the friend?

    It may be annoying not to name the main character for several pages, but you can usually get away with it longer with a supporting character.

    You can put off descriptions indefinitely. Without a name, though, you may need a partial description as a handle for the reader. Or a code name, or something.
     
  3. Garfiun
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    Garfiun Member

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    Sorry, I ment I don't want to name the supporting character, but I should give him a bit of description though? They are currently having a quick conversation, but I dont want to introduce the supporting character properly until they meet up again.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You'll need some way of identifying the character so the reader recognizes him when he is re-introduced.
     
  5. rainy
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    rainy Senior Member

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    A physical characteristic like hair color or tattoo, might work for example. You could use another trait like a particularly long drawn out annoying laugh. Or, an action like biting off the whites of his or her nails. Perhaps something they always wear.

    Or you could get a little craftier and try setting up a speech pattern particular to that person, using a particular word or phrase in controlled abundance. Be careful though, first off you need to make sure it sticks to the reader but doesn't go over the top in an "OMG make this guy shut up way" (especially if we have to deal with him again later). But that's true of any trait. It needs to be peppered in, not restated on every line. Anyway, second, make sure that pattern isn't mimiced by another char and third, you have to carry it throughout the entire novel.

    These are just a few of the many examples you can use to identify a char without using names.

    Depending on the scenario, you MIGHT be able to pull off just referencing him as "the man from the cafe" or some such, but that depends entirely on the scenes and execution. If he's showing up later, you might as well start building him now even if just vaguely.

    Best luck,

    //R
     
  6. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    What is your reason behind leaving the character unnamed for so long? What kind of impact are you hoping to get from that? Think long and hard about that question, then ask yourself whether or not it's worth it. If you're going to play a game like that with your readers, you had better have a good reason for doing so. They are not going to like it if you withhold So-And-So's name for ten pages only to reveal it on page 11 and then move on. (What was the point of that? they will wonder. Not the kind of question you want your readers to be asking themselves in the middle of your story.) As for describing So-And-So, you don't necessarily have to. Unless you have a good reason. And even then, you might want to limit the description to whatever detail(s) are most outstanding about him or her. (Mention the peg leg and the hook, skip the blue eyes. Nobody is going to remember, or care about, that last little detail.) Happy writing!
     
  7. Garfiun
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    Garfiun Member

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    Good point do you think it will work if I introduce now saying something about his personal appearance, introducing him in about 2 scenes, then later on in the story something major happens to him hence making him more memorable.
     
  8. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    There's nothing wrong with introducing him early, especially if something major is going to happen to him later. In fact, it's absolutely the right thing to do. Just make sure you peg him as a major character. That means giving him a name immediately. (Nameless characters are almost always throw aways. Ex: the waiter, the man at the ticket booth, the asshole in the red Porche. These guys fulfill their temporary little purpose and then quickly shuffle offstage, never to appear again.) That also means not keeping him offstage for too long. (Out of sight, out of mind. And you don't want this guy out of your readers' minds for too long.) If he's important to the main character and/or appears with him often, your readers will pick up that he's (gasp!) important. They will expect him to play a major role in the story and will thus not be surprised when that major thing, whatever it is, happens to him. Unless you characterize him as the comic-relief eccentric kind of friend. Then he'll likely be taken as a minor character even if he is with the main guy all the time, and your major event is going to play out differently. You alone know what you're aiming for. Good luck!
     
  9. Garfiun
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    Garfiun Member

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    Thanks I will have to have a good think before I carry on.
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tried this recently because I wanted to make the man seem more mysterious, but I went back and introduced his name fairly soon. It just got too much, 'the stranger' 'he' 'his blue eyes were watching...' etc etc it got annoying for me and I think a reader would have spotted the contrivance also.
     
  11. Garfiun
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    Garfiun Member

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    After my main character speaking to the supporting man its not too long until he gets introduced properly. The main event I was thinking of was the supporting character betraying the main character and the reader having small glimpses at what he is doing behind the main characters back, hopefully pulling the reader more towards the main character.
     
  12. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    If you're writing in third person, giving him a name will be as simple as saying something like, "Joe was sneaking around behind [main character]'s back. Boy, was he going to give it to that sucker. Joe did not like [main character] at all." Ok, don't say something like that, but what I'm trying to illustrate is that you can drop the name first thing and not have it seem awkward.

    If you're writing the story in first person, though, it'll be a little trickier to get the name in there, but at the same time, you won't really need it. Just run with "I" and "me" until it's time to switch to your main character's viewpoint. Then you can have the two characters come together in a way that makes it obvious that the main character's friend is the guy who's point of view the story began in. That could work pretty well. :)

    If you're writing the story in second person... just kidding.

    Good luck!
     
  13. Garfiun
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    Garfiun Member

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    Thanks again and I'll have to have another read through what i've done so far and see how I can work it in.
     
  14. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I encountered the same thing once myself and agree with madhoca. If you do it too often it gets really annoying. It's like when someone says "I've got a secret!" Then when you ask what it is they say they can't tell you.

    It would only work if it went on for a very short time and you ought to give some description of the person.
     
  15. Garfiun
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    Garfiun Member

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    It is a short time about 2 scenes, so about 2 days in the book.
     

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