1. morphghost

    morphghost New Member

    Feb 9, 2013
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    Using a Character's Nickname?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by morphghost, Apr 1, 2016.

    What are the appropriate times to use a character's nickname? I'm not talking about usage in dialogue with other characters that use the nickname, rather, use of the nickname in narrative and if the nickname should even be used in the narrative in the first place.

  2. Sundowner

    Sundowner Member

    Feb 23, 2015
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    World Marshal Inc.
    Well, that would seem rather improper to use a character's shorthand or nickname in the context of narrative. It doesn't really matter what the perspective is, this is supposed to be the narrative, the thing that gets polished and scrutinized. In dialogue, characters use nicknames, they stutter, they make mistakes. In narrative, that doesn't happen. Your writing is expected to be perfect and without shortcuts or laziness.
  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I have no idea. As long as it's not confusing? One thing I've always hated about certain military books is the authors urge to create multi-names for one character depending on who he's with. So the reader has to keep straight that - Corporal Hargreaves is also Grief, John, Johnny Boy, Darling.
    jannert likes this.
  4. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I tell you story, yes...:P Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    I do it fairly regularly through out my 1 and 1/8ish novels. To be fair there are only a few characters that it applies to, so getting them mixed up is a non issue. :p

    First Star General Volkov, Zlada (Red Wolf)
    Captain Nicholous (haven't come up with a last name yet :D) (Rhino)

    And that is all the nicknames I utilize. Pretty much everybody else is designated by Rank and name (or just by Name or Rank once it is established who is being spoken of), or Children by Marckus. :D

    See not so complicated if you don't go overboard and complicate the crap out of it. But this is just the way I have done things in regards to a Sci-fi/Military style story and sequel. Oh yeah, Rhino has a shotgun he affectionately calls Betty. :D
  5. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

    Dec 31, 2015
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    I third person narration you need to pick a name and stick to it. It can be a nickname if you'd rather; but whatever you call someone in 'voice of god' narration is essentially their 'official' name and there's very few reasons why such a narrator would use another form.

    You can use whatever name you want but you should stick with it unless you have a very strong reason to.
  6. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
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    Assuming you're using first or close third, you should refer to the character in whatever way your POV character would refer to the character.

    Think of "Mom" as a nickname. If you're writing about Barbara Jones in first person from the POV of her child, you'd write "Mom yelled at me again, but I was getting really good at ignoring her." If you're writing about her in close third, you'd probably write "His mom yelled at him again, but he was getting really good at ignoring her."

    If you were writing from the father's POV, you would use whatever name he thought of her as during times like that. "Barb yelled at Bobby again; it seems like all she can do these days is yell." But later on, in a different mood, he might think of her differently. "Barbara Jones, Defender of the Downtrodden, was on the job, and it was best to just get out of her way."

    If you're writing in omniscient third, your narrator is less likely to have "moods" or a relationship with the characters, so you'd be more likely to pick a neutral name and stick with it. But it would depend on the voice you use for your narrator.
    King_Horror likes this.
  7. King_Horror

    King_Horror Member

    Jan 8, 2016
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    Somewhere in the U.S.A.
    I second BayView's opinion.

    It does depend on the narrator, and what point of view you're writing from.
  8. Seraph751

    Seraph751 If I fell down the rabbit hole... Contributor

    Mar 18, 2016
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    I also think it depends on whether or not the character prefers to be called by their nickname.
  9. Kallisto

    Kallisto Active Member

    Jun 23, 2015
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    In Lord of the Flies the author refers to one character as "Piggy" throughout the entire story. It's all a matter of how you want people to come to know the character. In that case, the author wanted you to see a chubby kid you'd normally underestimate and has little value to anyone to a point where he didn't even deserve a real name. This ended up working amazingly well in developing the themes of his story.
    Sifunkle likes this.

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