1. Phantajia Alysabeth

    Phantajia Alysabeth New Member

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    Similar Names

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Phantajia Alysabeth, Sep 30, 2020.

    In my fantasy story, I have a set of identical twins that have a psychic connection. They share thoughts and memories and are pretty much the same person (with a couple of differences, but they're not major). Everyone mixes them up. Teachers, friends, parents, even the twins don't know who is who. With that, do you think it would be okay to give them similar names? I know that you're not supposed to do that because the reader might get confused about who is who, but it seems appropriate given the fact that everyone in the story is just as confused.
     
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    Everyone in the story may be confused, but unless your aim is also to confuse the reader, I wouldn't. It needs to be clear to the reader, otherwise you'll risk them giving up because they're not following the story.

    There are times when you need to confuse the reader, but I don't think this is it.
     
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  3. Storysmith

    Storysmith Senior Member

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    If you want the reader to get them mixed up, then by all means give them similar names. The advice not to do so is for the usual case of writers wanting readers to be able to tell the characters apart. As ever, understand the reasons for any rule and break it if those reasons don't apply.
     
  4. JuliaBrune

    JuliaBrune Member

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    Agreed [edit : with Naomasa]. This is a dangerous idea for what is essentially an affectation (as described here anyways).
     
  5. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Your description leaves me puzzled. Why would the twins confuse themselves?

    Unless it is integral to the plot with some switcheroo business happening (which is horrifically cliche when twins are involved, I wouldn't cause confusing with the audience. A confused audience is an irritated audience. An irritated audience is one that dumps your story fast for more solid ground.
     
  6. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    This sounds like there's a touch of the supernatural going on - in general twins are pretty distinct individuals, I've heard. Is there a plot reason why they're "practically the same person"? Are you writing into a twin stereotype based off biases and not actual researched knowledge of twins, or are you playing towards the misunderstanding deliberately for a cleverer reason than that? The former will infuriate a lot of readers. The latter would be rather excellent.

    However, is this a novel or a short story? I don't see how you can sustain a thing like that in a novel - and definitely don't seek to confuse the reader about which twin is which at novel length. No reader would make it, and what would be the point? Surely part of the tension lies in the fact that the reader knows something the character doesn't? If the reader is as confused as the character - like, what's the mystery here? Is the core mystery supposed to be the reader figuring out which twin did what?

    Like, what would be the story purpose for confusing the readers here? People don't generally like to be confused and made to feel dumb. If you're doing it for fun and no good reason at all, then they like it even less so.
     
  7. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah real life identical twins are certainly not "pretty much the same person"--I assume there's a magical reason for the similarity in this case? Because even strictly physically speaking, once you get to know a set of twins it becomes pretty easy to tell them apart based on the mole on one's nose, or the way one of them walks, or whatever it is.

    +1
     
  8. Phantajia Alysabeth

    Phantajia Alysabeth New Member

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    Okay, it occurs to me that I could have explained better. Yes, the connection between the two is a magical thing, and the idea is that it's a short story from the point of view of the creepy twins that tend to frequent a lot of older horror movies. For example, how being labeled as the "creepy twins" affects them, and what it does to their personal identity to be confused for the other twin all the time. The idea of them being almost the same person is that they share every memory and thought. If twin 1 experiences something, it'll manifest in twin 2s memory as if it happened to them too.
     
  9. Mana_Kawena

    Mana_Kawena Member

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    I rather enjoy the idea of twins being so close in personality and appearance, and actually would lean in the opposite direction in this case... give them dissimilar names (perhaps like Marie and Samantha) to further stress how unusual it is that they haven't differentiated from each other; perhaps they themselves can't tell which of them is Marie and Samantha anymore, and the only thing that could tell them apart is the equivalent of checking their fingerprints (and even that could be tricky!)

    Anyway, while giving them similar names would certainly stress what they already have going on, consider if their similar names are realistic names their parents would give them... put yourself in the shoes of parents with twins; would you give identical twins near-identical names? Some people may definitely find it cute, but others might want to reinforce in their twins that they are individuals, and these two girls' almost supernatural/unnatural connection may look in the face of that with a defiant smile as they swap names like they swap clothes.

    All in all, just go with what feels right... and chances are, your gut is already telling you the answer to that given you've come to the forum to ask this question. Weigh the benefits and cons of giving them similar names, versus dissimilar ones, and go with what suits them as characters to further explore or expand the story, as opposed to treating it like a throwaway detail.

    At the very least, while it is perfectly acceptable to have confused characters, you *never* want to outright confuse your reader if you can help it... misleading or confusing a reader creates frustration, and frustration leads to closed books that are never reopened again.

    Happy writing!
     
  10. Urocyon

    Urocyon Member

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    If you do decide to give them similar names, at least be able to shorten them to something rather distinct.
    Ex: Victor and Victoria= Vic and Tori.

    Typically, the physician and parents know if the twins are identical by birth, and usually are encouraged to give them dissimilar names. I had a friend in high school named Jordan with an identical twin named Kelsey, and even then it was hard enough keeping who's who straight.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2020
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  11. Maggie May

    Maggie May Active Member

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    My twin cousins names were Sonya and Tonya, even though identical I could tell them apart. Think how the parents would name the "creepy twins".
     
  12. TScream

    TScream Member

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    I beta read a story and the characters had very similar names. Throughout the story I found myself asking didn't the other character do that instead of this one. So, I have to go back and find that part to clarify it in my head. It was extremely annoying and tiresome. If I wasn't beta reading I would have put the book down after the first chapter, maybe even the first paragraph. IMHO I would say don't do it.
     
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