1. Avalon McSoley

    Avalon McSoley New Member

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    Changing character name mid-story?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Avalon McSoley, Nov 19, 2016.

    In my book series, I have a character that's been there since book one, with a ridiculous nickname that he's always hated. In book 5, he hints that he would like to change his name, and now I'm 1/4 into the manuscript for book 6. My plan was to change his name in the time-gap between five and six, but now that I'm writing about him with the new name, I feel like something's off, like something that made him him is gone. Still he has a very weak personality, that's sort of part of the plot, and changing it would never bother him in any way.

    My test readers have liked it so far... what do you guys think?
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    You're changing in the narrative, or in dialogue, or both? What POV are you using?
     
  3. Avalon McSoley

    Avalon McSoley New Member

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    I'm changing the entire name from book six on, so both. I use several third-person POVs, but none are his. All my POVs have interactions with the character in question on a daily basis, so he is mentioned a lot. I'm trying to do sort of an overlapping period, where his friends will mix up his name, mispronounce and call him by the old one at times, making it clear to the reader why he has a new name in this book.
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Seems like it would work, to me. And your readers feel like it's working... it's just you who isn't liking it so far?

    Maybe you shouldn't change the name in the gap between books, maybe you should change it in the middle of one of the books so you can have a scene about the change and give yourself time to make the adjustment? You could always cut the scene later if it doesn't add to the story, but you'd still have the peace from having written it.
     
  5. Avalon McSoley

    Avalon McSoley New Member

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    Good idea! I'll write that scene, if nothing else just for me. Not many test readers has seen the manuscript for book six, but those who has says they like it and that it adds to his character. (Although one complained that he didn't like the sound of the new name.)
     
    BayView likes this.
  6. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

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    One of my favourite (children's) books is the Bartimaeous . . . Tetralogy? Series? Something since they added a prequel to the initial trilogy. . .

    At any rate, the first book a main character starts out as "the boy" and eventually settles into his birthname "Nathaniel" in the narrative and by one to two characters. During this book, he decides to take the name "John Mandrake" and most characters call him by the latter (with 2-3 exceptions) although the narrative continues to refer to him as Nathaniel.

    The second book, he is completely John Mandrake by both characters and narrative, with only the other main character using or reminding him of his birthname.

    In the third book, he is Mandrake up until near the climax when he suddenly drops his chosen name and assumes his birthname for the remainder of the story.

    I never had any issue following along (even with the addition of switching timeframes or POV in books) and the name shift was reflective of the character of the character. It added to the story.

    You can wean readers into the transition gradually, or you can give hint of what's to come then simply give a sudden push off the ledge. So long as it isn't completely out of the blue-nowhere, it's should be fine.



    But if there is something you don't like about the way you've done it, just tweak & play around with it till it feels right I suppose.
     

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