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  1. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    naming the unamed

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by zorell, Sep 21, 2008.

    I'm writing my current story, working title The Tales of Alaska Malone from the title character's perspective.

    A lot of what happens to Alaska revolves around the men of her life, but one stands out amongst them. I know his name is John Doe, but she won't know untill a great deal of the story has passed.

    Early in the story she calls him by his name, but she uses the name more like a discription of him, an unknown person.

    As of yet, I've been identifying when she's referring to John specifically by italicizing the pronouns "he," "him," or "his" according to the context.


    My question is if there's a better way to identify him without using his name or constantly resorting to formatting?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've seen he or him used often when the character doesn't know the other character's name. I think this is a fine way of doing it. But, Here are a few examples I can think of:

    1. Physical features (the man with the red hair, the man with the long hair)
    2. Greek or Roman names (He reminds her of Adonis, so she may call him "my Adonis")
    3. Other names (His long, red hair reminded her of a man she had met in her childhood named Bob. So, she starts calling the guy Bob.

    That's all I can think of at the moment.
     
  3. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    Thanks for those suggestions:)

    I'd settle for simply using those pronouns, but I'm at 40 pages and he pops up on at least fifteen of them. She's getting to know him, but he never tells his name.

    Should I post up the profile this character is from?
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Sure, go ahead.
     
  5. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    Courtesy of Ungood

    This is his character from an RPG and he is deeply routed in who my character becomes.

    Because the story is in fact a conversion from an RPG plot line to general fiction, I'm trying my best not to contradict anything other members might have intended in reference to their own characters.

    Can you see my dilema?
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Maybe you could start out with he and him. As the story progresses, start describing him with some physical features which stand out. He may not stand out in a crowd, but make him be special for Alaska. Make her notice the brown hair and brown eyes. Then, instead of pronouns, start using "man with the sparkling brown eyes" or "the man with lustrous brown hair." Then, work up to the name. You might even have John give a fake name, if he wants to hide his identity.

    And I wouldn't worry about contradicting what other members have said about their own characters. By doing this, you won't have to worry about limitations. After all, it's your story, and you should be able to do as you please.
     
  7. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    Thanks for that:)

    I see what you're saying. I guess I'm pretty much doing that, just sans physical discriptions. The way their rapport is, he's tried unsuccessfully to give her a false name and just won't/hasn't tried again.
     
  8. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I am wondering why this girl is obsessed with such a lamer.
     
  9. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    Okay, first he's not a "lamer" unless you want to clarify what exactly you mean by that. Second, she's not obsessesed. John Doe is somebody who seems constant in her life and yet different.

    She doesn't stalk him or even think about him every moment of everyday, but he's important to her. He helped through a lot of things and is willing to be what somebody else who was very important to her wouldn't be.
     
  10. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I have learned that no matter how "Like everyone else" someone might look, there are always unique aspects of them that stand out to the people that care about them.

    But in your case it might be better if she lays claim to the man, IE: He is NOT a John Doe, he is HER john doe.

    That might help as well.
     
  11. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Seems to me his greatest feature is his lack of features. One feature may stick out to her because he's special to her (as Ungood said above). On the other hand, she could simply describe him as undescribable. There's nothing wrong with treating him like the "mystery man" he is. Lots of women are into the enigmatic approach; it's worked for me many times before. ;) Probably works for serial killers too...:redface: I'm wondering if something bad happens when she finds out who (or what) this guy really is.
     
  12. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    Ungood- That is a very good point ;)


    AnonyMouse- You're thinking along the lines that I was following, maybe his enigmatic nature is best:)

    Thanks ya'll for answering my somewhat off question:D
     
  13. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Always glad to try and help you out.

    Best wishes with your story.
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Maybe she can refer to him as the ordinary man. The plain man. Or she can point out something that she likes.

    At one point she can share her thoughts with us. He is such an ordinary man. From that point on when he says something it could be like this.

    "Whatever he said goes here," said Ordinary Man.

    Stephen King did this in his novel Cell. I really liked it. I think one lady was called something like stretchy-paints lady.
     
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    My appologies, Stephen King called her Power Suit Woman. First he says the woman int he power suit, then he refers to her like this.

    He turned back toward the ice cream truck in time to see Power Suit Woman lunge through the serving window in an effort to grab Mister Softee Guy. - Cell, by Stephen King.

    Mister Softee Guy was the one who drove the Mister Softee ice-cream truck.


    ***** "What the hell?" Mister Softee Guy cried.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    italicizing makes no sense... and won't go over well with agents/editors...
     
  17. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    1st. you realize john doe isn't a real name, right? its used for people who are unidentified. but i suspect you know that.

    in Paulo Coelho's book "The Alchemist" only one character is refered to by their name (our MC's lover) but even our main character (Santiago) is always refered to as "the boy", Nebuchadnezzar is known as "the king", the unnamed crystal merchant the "crystal merchant" and the alchemist as "The Alchemist".

    so any generic name could probably work fine. the boy, the guy, the kid, the kid in my science class, the plain guy, him. he is the plain guy that she likes. "i saw the plain guy that i sorta like across the hall at his locker"
     
  18. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    Yes, I do know that, but it's also very possible to receive such an unfortunate name, as John Doe has.

    Thanks for that input.


    And, as it seems, I'll be using ya'll's insights BEFORE the editing process because my story decided it was 30 pages overweight:(
     

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