1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Which name should I use for my MC? How do you deal w/ nicknames?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by JosephMarch, May 25, 2014.

    So her name is Elizabeth. Family calls her Liz. Boyfriend calls her Elizabeth.

    As an adult, she wants to cut ties to the past, so when she gets a job, starts going by Beth. So the narrator switches to Beth.

    But then, someone from her past resurfaces. He does not know her as Beth.

    From their reunion, until the end of the story, they are together. Do I go back to Elizabeth when referring to her?

    Is this utterly confusing?
     
  2. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say it depends. What kind of feeling are you trying to give to their relationship? Do you want them to rekindle the past? In that case, I'd go back to Elizabeth. Or do you want her to stay in her future, in the new life she starts for herself, still being independent? In that case, I'd go by Beth.
     
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  3. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    Is the story written in third-person? If it is, and the narrator is just an omniscient voice, personally I'd stick to the same name throughout. Individual characters can call her by whatever name/nickname they choose, and she can refer to herself by whatever name she chooses in her thoughts (e.g. Keep it together, Beth!). If the narrator is actually a character in the story or someone telling a story about her, I think changing the name she is referred to makes more sense and wouldn't be too confusing.
     
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  4. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    Seeing as Elizabeth is an established, common, English-language name you don't have to specify that it's referring to her (unless there are other characters with the same or a very similar name, of course), in the same way it's unnecessary to mention she's female given her name (and if Elizabeth was male, you'd have to make a big deal out of explaing it to the readers (and possibly other characters), and possibly also explain why). Not dwelling on these things makes it more interesting to read the story because the readers aren't bombarded with information they already expected, but can see for themselves if the clues thrown their way end up being correct. Every name has some connotation to what kind of people has that name, be it sex, nickname, age, status, place of origin, accent, race, appearance or personality (for example Anthony makes me think of actor Anthony Hopkins and the characters Tony Stark and Tony Soprano, and subsequently I associate the name with Italian Americans and the mafia etc.). You can't avoid it. You should probably just embrace it. Whether or not you want to give readers what they expect or to surprise them is up to you.
     
  5. GothicMermaid
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    GothicMermaid New Member

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    I did it in my story but in this one, it's used kind of playfully to this up-tight as hell, woman named Ginger. Only her sister and close friends can call her "Gin".
     
  6. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is not at all confusing, and I think her change of nickname serves as an effective marker of character development and of the changing status quo. You might even want to make her childhood nickname "Lizzy", or make her childhood nickname "Bethy" and her adult nickname "Liz".

    Let the story dictate how the characters refer to her.

    In text, outside of dialogue quotations, I would refer to her as "Elizabeth" throughout. It makes the most sense to me if the narrator maintains a perspective unaffected by the whims of the characters who are being described.
     
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  7. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    Consider the story's POV. If Elizabeth is the POV character, the narrative should reflect how she views herself. If she views herself as Beth, then regardless of who she's talking to and who she's interacting with, I'd have the narrative refer to her as Beth. If she secretly still views herself as Elizabeth or Liz and only goes by Beth outwardly as a front, then I'd have the narrative refer to her as Elizabeth or Liz.
     
  8. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I agree with the bit about staying to the same name if writing third person, definitely stick to the character's full first name as in the name they were given at birth, not a nickname or different version, save that for the character themselves and when other characters talk to them. It acts as a constant for the reader so they will know who they are reading about. Changing it as the story goes along, will only confuse the reader as much as the writer using the wrong name.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The narrator is a character also, even if an anonymous one. Know your narrator's voice and viewpoint. and you will know how to refer to your character.
     
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