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  1. AnarchicQ
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    AnarchicQ New Member

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    Nick names and shortening names

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AnarchicQ, May 12, 2008.

    I have a character named Mary Jane. Is it acceptable to shorten that name to "MJ" in the prose? Or just in the dialog?
    Also, could I switched between the two within a paragraph?
    And would it be "MJ" or "M.J." or does that matter?

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  2. Hulk
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    Hulk Banned

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    Yep, you can make it MJ both in the prose and dialogue. And it's definitely better (to me, at least) than M.J :)
  3. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    I know in some stories they give the characters full name Alexander Romance.
    And they:
    Romance turned the switch on.
    Later on they say:
    Alexander's heart beat fast.
    Then they say:
    Alex ran as fast as he could.

    I've read a lot of stories that do that, but i don't really like it.
  4. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Member

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    I think MJ works fine. Just make sure you're consistent. If one character thinks of her as MJ, it should be MJ from that POV at least most of the time. If another thinks of her as Mary Jane, they shouldn't suddenly call her MJ unless it's shown their relationship has become more casual.
  5. Kaij
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    Kaij New Member

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    If you're going to have a character that has a nickname or shorter version of the name, I say go for writing the story in first person. I've read a lot of books where the MCs have nicknames or shorter versions of names, but a lot of them are written in first person. It's easier to know their nicknames by someone else saying them, then the main character thinking of how they got it, or by showing the reader how they got it.

    If you write it in third person POV, I say stick with the regular name, and only have other characters call the person by nickname. It makes it less jarring to the readers. Maybe just the last name of the person that's the leading character for the moment? In The Book of the Dead, instead of the authorial writing saying his first name all the time (which is Aloysius), it says his last name (which is Pendergast). Pendergast did this; Pendergast did this; etc. In one book where Pendergast was locked up in prison, nobody knew his real name. He was known as "A".

    Below are a few examples of nicknames for characters. All are written in first person, and you'll notice how much better it can be sometimes by choosing this path.​

    From The Scent of Shadows. The character's actual name is Joanna.
    From Halfway to the Grave.
    From Moon Called.
    I stand by what MS has said with your character's name.​
  6. Amor
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    Amor New Member

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    I think it's fine if you keep it as M.J. (not MJ with no periods), but like Mumbling Sage said, you should be consistent with it. You'd probably confuse the reader as to what the dominate name for that character is. I think that shortening names adds realism to most stories (I shorten my friends' names all the time :))
  7. Smithy
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    Smithy New Member

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    If I have characters with nicknames, then the first time they speak I tend to give the full name and the nickname, and then afterwards just use the nickname afterwards.

    So: "Cornelius 'Corny' Ballister scratched his nose and said...
    Corny got up.
  8. feather
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    feather New Member

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    I agree with Smithy. When I introduced my first protag as Julianna, I also had some dialogue within that same chapter where her mother called her daughter Jewels. I've used that nick throughout.
  9. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 New Member

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    If the character thinks of herself as "MJ" or the nickname is common enough that it would be used regularly in her life, then it can be written that way in both prose and dialogue.

    I wouldn't switch between the two in a paragraph or even in a chapter. Maybe she can be referred to as "Mary Jane" at the beginning of a chapter, but if she's then referred to as "MJ," it should remain consistent throughout the rest of the chapter, as MJ. (One exception is if you decide to call her "Mary Jane" in the prose/narration, but other characters call her "MJ" in dialogue...then you could use both.)

    Technically I think it should be "M. J.," but I myself usually omit the periods...probably a bad habit.
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