Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » How should I format my unusual character name?

   
Author Topic: How should I format my unusual character name?
Smaug
Member
Member # 2807

 - posted      Profile for Smaug   Email Smaug         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have a character in my current WIP whose actual name is not known. So, throughout the book he's called "the man who thinks he's a god". I'm just wondering how I should format this name properly--should it be in upper case lettering, such as "the Man Who Thinks He's a God" or not? Or would you suggest another variation?
Posts: 433 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
CGreen
Member
Member # 9718

 - posted      Profile for CGreen   Email CGreen         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm not sure but I think such a thing over and over throughout the book would become irritating. But, I guess it would work, as long as you don't overuse it.

On formatting, I'm thinking maybe all caps since it you refer to it as his name. I guess it would depend a little on how you use it. For instance, if someone walks up to him and said his name, would the character refer to him with this long descriptive name.

Would a line go something like this:

The Man Who Thinks He's God walked across the room, making no sound.

I'd think caps would be best in the situation, but again use it wisely, and only when needed.

Posts: 34 | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'd be inclined to go with all caps---if you want to call the reader's attention to the character's name not being known. But if you repeat it too much, it'll be the character's name, and introducing another at a much later point might confuse the reader...
Posts: 8007 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
pdblake
Member
Member # 9218

 - posted      Profile for pdblake   Email pdblake         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What does he call himself?

Surely, if he thinks he's a god, he must have some inkling of which one he thinks he is?

Just to throw another spanner in, Man Who Thinks He's a God only works in present tense, in past it would be Man Who Thought He Was a God, wouldn't it?

[ January 11, 2012, 10:58 AM: Message edited by: pdblake ]

Posts: 723 | Registered: Aug 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I was thinking of formatting it possibly like this:

The-Man-Who-Thought-He-Was-A-God

I might not have the caps right, but the hyphens hold it together... more like a name. JMO

Oops! Wrong name. So let's try:

The-Man-Who-Thinks-He's-a-god

I put "god" in lower case because it refers to "a" god and not just God (without the "a"). Does that make sense?

Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The Man Who Thinks He's a God, name-wise, is like a title, capital case for all words except articles and prepositions, and capital case first word if an article, like the, or a preposition. No hyphenation so they don't clutter the text unduly.

There's another, deeper area for consideration. A writing principle recommends abbreviating long titles or names as circumstances artfully suggest. Doing so artfully follows rhetorical schemes of repitition, substitution, and amplification. Renaming is a type of scheme that does all three.

Thinks He's a God, for example. Fool Who Is a God in His Own Mind.

I see a similarity with Native American naming conventions. There's a 16th century werowance (headman) whose "public" name or nickname translates as The Man With Two Spirits, for example. Kicking Deer ran up to and kicked a deer during a hunt. Snake Ear, or The Man Who Wears a Garter Snake in His Ear. The Old Moccasin Woman.

Posts: 2824 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
aspirit
Member
Member # 7974

 - posted      Profile for aspirit   Email aspirit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Like extrinsic, I thought of Native American names when I read the character's name. Capitalizing the first letters and not using hyphens--for "The Man Who Thinks He's a God" and later, "Thinks He's a God"--looks right to me. That said, I really like "God in His Own Mind" (when shortened). It's not the name you provided, but it would avoid tense confusion.
Posts: 1130 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Smaug
Member
Member # 2807

 - posted      Profile for Smaug   Email Smaug         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks, I appreciate the comments and suggestions. And in a serendipitous moment, you also said it sounded like a Native American name, which it just happens to be in my story, so to me, that's a success.
Posts: 433 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
axeminister
Member
Member # 8991

 - posted      Profile for axeminister   Email axeminister         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Check how it's done in Harry Potter?
I think it's He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. And You-Know-Who.

Much as I loved those books, that got on my nerves after a while. I'm glad it faded away, especially with Harry just saying his name over everyone else's protests.

Axe

Posts: 1447 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by axeminister:
Check how it's done in Harry Potter?
I think it's He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. And You-Know-Who.

Much as I loved those books, that got on my nerves after a while. I'm glad it faded away, especially with Harry just saying his name over everyone else's protests.

Axe

Harry Potter was the first thing to come to mind for me when I read the first post in this thread.

The reason I suggested hyphens is because it draws the words together more and names a person. To me the hyphens help make it whole instead of just a series of words. But the Hatrack experts say otherwise, and I bow to their wisdom and expertise.

Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Merlion-Emrys
Member
Member # 7912

 - posted      Profile for Merlion-Emrys   Email Merlion-Emrys         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This strikes me as a thing almost entirely of context and style. Also maybe on person, and how he's being referred too.

If you don't capitalize it then, to me, it's less him and more just something that other people call him. Capitalized it becomes a true name or title and possibly even an identity. Assuming that sort of tone, I personally would go capitalized without the hyphens, but I'd say the presence or absence of hyphens comes down to what looks best to you.

Posts: 2603 | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Smaug
Member
Member # 2807

 - posted      Profile for Smaug   Email Smaug         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by aspirit:
That said, I really like "God in His Own Mind" (when shortened). It's not the name you provided, but it would avoid tense confusion.

Except for when another person is addressing him directly, such as, "Pass me the peanut butter, God in His Own Mind", but the other names would sound odd in that situation as well. So far, I've only had one character in direct conversation with this character, and he calls him "Godman", mostly as a sign of disrespect of his powers. As in this sentence "No, Godman, you made the wrong move." I'm thinking of finding a real name for him that can be used in certain situations, but I'd like to base it on the ancient Hopi mythology which is the basis for the world in which the characters of my story live. But I definitely like the suggestions of "Thinks He's a God" and "God in His Own Mind".

quote:
Originally posted by pdblake:
What does he call himself?

Surely, if he thinks he's a god, he must have some inkling of which one he thinks he is?

Just to throw another spanner in, Man Who Thinks He's a God only works in present tense, in past it would be Man Who Thought He Was a God, wouldn't it?

Yeah, and that's exactly what I've been fighting with, because there are instances where he's being referred to in the present tense, and others where he's referred to in the past tense. So I'm appreciating all the input here.
Posts: 433 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Native Americans' "public" names before anglo Westernization were nicknames given by their communities for some standout feature. Usually appearance, sometimes some particularly silly or daring or poignant act, maybe some use or function to the community. Moccasin Woman, for example, means something on the bawdy blue side. Most communities had at least one Moccasin Woman.

Nicknames changed over time. Sittimg Bull was named Slow when he was young. Maybe not mentally slow, perhaps slow to wean, slow to pick up men's ways, perhaps slow to act.

Pocahontas means Little Wanton, though not in the bawdy sense. That was her name as a child given for her delighting exuberant play. When she took up anglo ways, marrying John Rolfe, as a sign of her true conversion, she revealed her spirit name Matoaka, which means Eyes of the Blue Lake. Her eyes were more dark violet than blue.

Sacagawea means Boat Puller or Boat Launcher, perhaps a nickname given for her role to her home town or specially for the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The Hopi Nations are part of the Uto-Aztecan culture group, though, different from the Algic Eastern Woodland culture group I'm most familiar with. On the other hand, naming conventions globally follow a similar basis.

Though I have Christian given names, they all have similar background meanings. My acquaintances over the years have called me by other names, too, to the point many didn't know my given name. And my spirit name is a secret, as it should be.

Posts: 2824 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyre Dynasty
Member
Member # 1947

 - posted      Profile for Pyre Dynasty   Email Pyre Dynasty         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My quick vote is caps but not hyphens.
Posts: 1844 | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Smaug
Member
Member # 2807

 - posted      Profile for Smaug   Email Smaug         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Nice bunch of info, extrinsic!
Posts: 433 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2