1. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere...

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    Leaving protagonist unnamed (and writing in first person)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kallisto, Jun 26, 2019.

    I haven't been excited to write anything for ten years. This one will be quite philosophical allegory and I'm planning on leaving the protagonist unnamed. Is that the type of story that would benefit from an unnamed protagonist. What are some hints on how to show your protagonist's gender without a forced "gender drop" so to speak.

    This is a little awkward for me. Right now, I'm dabbling in first person as it seems to be easier and more subtle to have an unnamed protagonist. but I don't know much about writing in that perspective. Are there any tips or limitations that I should expect writing in first person?
     
  2. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    You may not have a lot of experience writing in first person, but you probably have a lot of experience talking in it. A first person limited perspective is probably a good way to get around the unnamed protagonist thing, but keep in mind that someone will probably call them something at some point, so a gender neutral nick-name, like "Blondie," or "Angel Eyes," might be a good way around that
     
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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Wait--you want to reveal your protagonist's gender, or avoid revealing it?

    Revealing it seems pretty easy, at least if this is a modern setting. Your character can grab her purse, straighten her skirt, groan as her mother tells her how pretty she'd be if she'd just wear some makeup....
     
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  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    In a non-contemporary setting, the character could join the other men, or the other women, or think of being a mother or father, or mention being a sister or brother, aunt or uncle... could refer to career options or limitations based on gender (one of the few male starfleet commanders, stuck being a serving girl when she wanted to be a groom...). Lots of options!
     
  5. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    You might be careful not to litter the text with the subject pronoun (I) as sentence starter, and also not too many of personal pronouns please. They don't disturb me generally, but too many of them are distracting.

    Stick tight to your character. Everything in the text has to flow from this one person. That doesn't mean that you can't 'cheat the reader', because, just like in reality, your character might deceive himself.

    Pay attention to a close narrative distance: yes, now is the time 'now' and 'here' can be used with impunity ;)
     
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  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think it's a mistake not to name your main character even when writing in first person. I know it can be done, but it often takes more away from a story than it adds. I also don't understand the point in keeping a gender secret. Of course, I don't know your story, but a nameless, genderless character is going to be harder for readers to relate to and probably a harder sell. Just something to think about.
     
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Take a look at Jeanette Winterson’s novel “Written on the Body.” First person, and as I recall neither the narrator’s name nor gender are revealed.
     
  8. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere...

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    Why is everyone talking about me keeping the gender secret when I'm not doing that? WTF?!
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    It's not everyone. Some of us had suggestions on how to show gender.
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps some folks are simply not understanding your question very well.

    I'm picking up that you DO want to reveal the gender, but not directly, and you're looking for a method to do that? I think you've had a few good suggestions already.

    Mod hat on here: Let's not get hot under the collar, eh? It's not a big deal. Just re-state your original topic, if you feel people have been missing your point. Get us back on track.
     

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