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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » nameless characters

   
Author Topic: nameless characters
deebum25
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Just looking for opinions. In short stories is it okay for the character not to have a name or does it create distance from the reader?
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SchamMan89
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It does create a bit of distance, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If used effectively, the disconnect between the character and the reader can be a substantial tool.
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Kee Stone
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I find that for main characters, it is a pain. And it does create distance. But like me, I remember faces better than names, so, I sure you can pull it off if you try (or want to).
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steffenwolf
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In 1st person, I don't think I'd mind it, and I have one nameless 1st person character in one of my stories. I didn't find a way to put his name in the story that didn't feel like the author speaking, because he's telling the story to someone he's close to, he's not going to insert his name just for the reader to hear.
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steffenwolf
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That being said, one of my first readers suggested I should find a way to name the character, to make it easier to identify with him.
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deebum25
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SchamMann I would love it if you or anybody else could talk a little more about disconnect. I'm a little fuzzy on the concept.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Michael Swanwick's STATIONS OF THE TIDE had a nameless protagonist, but (if I remember correctly) he had a "title" because he was referred to throughout the book as "the bureaucrat." I believe he won awards for that novel.
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Robert Nowall
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Really depends on the vigor of the writing. In the Cornell Woolrich story that became Hitchcock's "Rear Window," as I recall, not only did the lead character not have a name but there was no explanation for how he came to be confined in an apartment with a broken leg. (But definitely not in the movie version.)
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Doc Brown
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Is this written in first person? The POV character's name is less important in first person stories.
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tchernabyelo
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It certainly can be done successfully, but should only be done with good reason. And you need to be very careful with how you handle pronouns, etc, if you have other characters (I have one allegorical story doing the rounds that deliberately doesn't name the characters, but there is a "he" and a "she" and nobody else apart from a brief appearance of a "they" at the end).
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