1. canadianmint
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    canadianmint Member

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    Overuse of Main Characters name.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by canadianmint, Aug 8, 2009.

    How do I get around not littering my pages with my main character's first name?

    I have a lot of characters surrounding her and need to distinguish between them. And obviously don't want to then litter the pages with 'her' or 'she'.

    Maybe a better question to ask, from experience, is there a general guideline for how many time's a character's name should appear on a page?

    Hope I picked the right thread for this.
     
  2. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    'Labels' prehaps?(I don't know the correct way to define this.)

    I've seen characters being referred by what they do/what they are. If they're the only one that is that.

    Ok that didn't make sense. Say the character is a dentist. He is the only dentist in the scene, you could refer to him with out using his name or he/him by just using 'dentist'

    Something along the lines of:
    'The young dentist looked at her in confusion.'

    Don't make a habit of using it very often though, and I'm not even sure it's a good technique.
     
  3. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think the above method works if you're writing from the exclusive POV of your main character. You never heard Harry Potter ever once being referred to by the narrator as "the young wizard" or Eragon as the dragon rider.

    I'd say don't worry about using your character's names but use it only when you have to, like when there's confusion about who you're referring to. When you don't need to, 'she' is a far less obtrusive place holder.

    Sometimes I use my main character's name twice in the same sentence, but there just isn't any other way... unless there is a way, in which case I'll keep an eye on this thread
     
  4. amateur
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    amateur Member

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    u could give them a couple of nicknames that charecters use for them in speech it helps clear it up a bit- i have a charecter called Charlotte and for the firsat paragrah she's in she is called Charlotte then she tells the main charecter her nickname Lottie and that is used for alot of the rest of the story
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Use "he" and "she."

    To avoid using "he" and "she" too often, break up your action bits with discription, introspection, and other parts of writing.
     
  6. Rumpole40k
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    Rumpole40k Banned

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    If the story is dynamic enough, you can get away with repeated use of the character's name and or he/she.
     
  7. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Make it a 1st person narrative - and bam, problem solved! :D Now you just have lots of "I" this and "I" that.

    Seriously, though, this is why reading a lot is helpful for a writer--because then you see how others have handled these kinds of issues. Maybe pick up one of your favorite books with the same situation--lots of characters surrounding the MC--and see how the author handled it. Good luck.
     
  8. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Well, I think that at least Eragon was, and Potter might have been. The thing is that for both the tone doesn't work well for that. If you have a more conversational tone, like say Steven King does, then you can get away with saying things like "the young man got up off his feet."
     
  9. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I usually write in first-person narrative, it's just easier for me that way to get inside the characters' heads. But I agree with using nicknames.
     
  10. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is what I was going to suggest. When I have a character whose name is going to be used a lot, I'll usually give them a couple nicknames that specific people use (for instance, the MC of the story I'm working on now is named Carly, but her sister calls her CJ and her boyfriend calls her by her last name). That way, there are more options than just the person's name and then he/she.
     
  11. canadianmint
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    canadianmint Member

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    Thanks everyone. I think I will go and pick up Harry Potter and start counting how many times his name appears on a page.

    My hope is that the reader won't really notice the amount of times because the name will be secondary to the action in the scene. This site is useful for clarifying thoughts since writing a full manuscript I sometimes feel haunted by the main character's name.... Getting other opinions is valid.
     
  12. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Aside from writers who use character's names in spoken dialog too many times, I don't think I notice character's names in the narrative or tag lines. I mean they're there, but like said they are just read over and barely register. He/she also isn't as noticeable or confusing when it is clear who's head we are in in the tp pov.

    It's probably best to just write the first draft and not worry so much about the overuse of names and he/she until you go back to do your first edit. Then you can change stuff around when you read it with fresh eyes. The first draft is all about getting it down on paper.
     
  13. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    I see nothing wrong with using personal pronouns as much as you need, so long as you give your character a memorable identity. On occasion, substitute the personal pronouns with a description, if you see fit. If you do it to often, though, you may annoy the reader. Someone mentioned how J.K. Rowling referred to her wretched creature as ''the young wizard''. That isn't something you want to repeat too much, imo...
     

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