Thursday, November 4, 2010

#NaNoWriMo Four for Four and the Invisible "I"

Got in another 2076 words today which brings my total to 7459 for the month. I am very pleased with my results so far and with the weekend coming up I think I am in for a really positive first week.

There is one thing I am worried about though with this new story. I am 7459 words into my new story, and my main character, the narrator from who's perspective the story it told from does not have a name. That's right, no name.

Now there really has not been call for a name so far. He is an apprentice and everyone who around him knows either him or his parents and so there is a certain familiarity that he has with everyone or that everyone has with him.

So my question to you is: Is this a problem? Could you enjoy a book that is told from first person but you never actually learn the name of the person giving you this perspective. I almost see it as a challenge at this point to see if I can make it through the whole story with my main character nameless.

He has a name by the way, I just don't know what it is...I am so picky when it comes to names. I like to use names that look normal but have a strong meaning. In my adult project I picked the names of the characters first because if you deconstruct the names down to their meanings you can actually learn a lot of their storyline and their actual fate by the end of the books.

So what do you think, should I get a name in for the character ASAP or should I wait and see if I even need to give him a name?


  1. Ooh that's hard. Because some people will say it's cool and daring, and an interesting twist. But others will say it's going against the "rules". If you do it, just make sure it looks intentional. If it looks intentional, then it's cool. If it looks like you just forgot to give him a name, then it's probably not a good idea. I have to say though, since it's a fantasy, you probably should just give him a name. Your audience is going to expect that. Now, if it was one of those literary, contemporary YA's with a unique twist (like all in verse or something) then it could be acceptable. Having said that, I do like the fact that you don't name him for a while in the beginning. If you decide to finally name him, it should be like a totally profound moment or something when someone calls out his name. Ooh, like the Neverending Story. We don't know the princess's name until the end. Mooooonchiiilllddd!

  2. I've read one book where the main character's name was never revealed, and I have to confess, it was a little odd.
    Take your time with the name. It's important.

  3. I think it could make the story interesting as long as it does not appear that you just forgot to give him a name, as Abby stated above. I may be wrong, but I think the narrator, who happened to be the main character, in Mark Twain's Roughing It was never named. It can work as long as it seems natural.

  4. I say, see how far you can get nameless until the perfect name comes to you. I mean, you can always add it in later in edits after all. If it never comes, it never comes. Whatever. I think leaving out a name will always come across as intentional so no worries there.

  5. It helps me connect with the character more if I have a name. Now, a book title... that baffles me more.

  6. Great progress with NaNo!

    I echo Colene's advice: see how far you get without a name. The perfect one should come to you. If it doesn't, maybe it's worth seeing if a nameless character could work (and it just might). And good luck! :)

  7. I think most people would want to know by the end who the narrator was, so maybe don't worry about it because who he/she is will come to you eventually in their own time. Giving a character a name when you don't relate to it can be inhibiting. Maybe you need to think more about the narrator's character first and who they seem to be, what role they play? :O)

  8. What's the rush? Wait and see what emerges.

  9. If this process if working for you so far, don't worry about finding a name for your character. I would keep writing to see where it takes you.

    I think that you could write the story and have it compelling enough not to have to mention a name but also I think the reader likes to have someone to identify with. So the character name comes in at that point.

    Sounds interesting. Best wishes and good luck with NaNo.

  10. LOL! I know what you mean and how you feel about giving this apprentice a name. You can have him feel some kind of anxiety attack and have him say, "Welp, Gossim, here goes nuthin'." ;)

    Congrats on your word count--you're doing great!

    Have a terrific weekend!

    ~Elizabeth :)

  11. The writer in me says do whatever naturally emerges within your story. You certainly don't want to force the name in just so it is there - it would be like wedging in an extra puzzle piece that doesn't quite fit. If the character is named, it should be effortless. HOWEVER, the teacher in me says that would make it a challenge for discussion purposes. From what I was reading, I'm under the impression you are writing a young adult piece (my favorite genre) and I will say that names are very important to teens. It helps them visualize and get to know the protagonist as an actual person - not just someone they are reading about. So, I probably wasn't much help, was I?

    BTW, congrats on your progress! I decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo this year because I really am hoping to finish my first manuscript and didn't want to delay the progress (I'm close). Reading your posts makes me regret that decision. It really seems like a lot of fun and a great opportunity/challenge. Best of luck!

  12. You guys are awesome! Such amazing feedback! I think that if I do need a name I will put the work in to come up with one. Being so far into the story without a name has been kind of freeing so far so I am going to keep writing without one until I need it. I loved all the perspective on both sides. Either way I think I should come up with a name just so that I know what it is.

    Abby - thanks for idea of a big reveal for the name. I will think about how that could work in the story.

    Alex- I agree that never telling the main character's name is weird. I will definately take my time coming up with a name. Thank you for following my blog!

    Brandon - I am trying to make it as natural as possible, there have been a couple of places so far where I could have revealed the name, but I just felt more comfortable writing the scene without it.

    Colene - Thanks for the advice. I am not sure that a name will just come to me. I am very intentional with character names, but with that being said one of my main character's name in my adult project came spontaneously so I suppose you could be right.

    Kristal - Titles are the bane of my existance! Look for a post on that coming soon.

    Jennifer, Mohamed, Regina, - Thanks for your advice!

    Madeleine - Thanks for the advice. I agree that most readers want to know who the main character is. It funny I know everything about the character, except for his name.

    Elizabeth - I love the name being revealed in internal narration. I am a huge fan of good internal narration.

    Paul - Thanks for you advice, I think you summed up my name struggle very well. I know that teens relate better to a named character, but at the same time the main character is in some respects meant to be aa metaphor for all teens and I want them to be able to place themselves in the story as the main character.