7.08.2006

Bond, Just Bond

I'm a protosnarkling, having enjoyed your blog immensely, but briefly. I'm not up on the latest kowtow, so kowtow, and kudos.

I can't resist, even after emptying my second vodka pail, commenting on something that is bugging me apeshit. Re: Snarkometer #56, in which
of the first 20 words, 4 of them are spent relaying full names. I'm sorry, but if I have characters named Quinn and Amos, do I really need to know their full names right off? Is there really any danger of running into another Quinn with which to confuse me in the first in 300 words? And if so, is this not an even worse thing?

I'm saying, if Kafka can write a pretty good book where the main character's name is a single letter, does this not mean that a simple "Quinn did this" is good enough, at least for the first 20 words? Not that #56 is solely at fault, but damn near every one of them does it.


Anticipating your wisdom

Sean (surname withheld)



I've never even noticed it.

Playing with names is an interesting device in books (Spenser of course comes to mind; Bill Pronzini's works; Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier; many others I'm sure y'all will remind us about) but I certainly don't think it would be considered gimmicky to only use one in a synopsis.

8 comments:

Sherry Decker said...

Back when I read a ton of romance novels, the heroine's name was always mentioned full length on the first page - but now - if we can spel lik this an say fuck u on the first page, then surely, we can use one word names.

kitty said...

I hear ya, Sean!

One of my pet peeves is more than a bare minimum description (if even that) of how characters AND places look. I have to take time to try to visualize what the character looks like, and that brings my reading to a standstill. Half of the time those wordy descriptions read like filler. I've given up on books for that reason. Writers should have faith in their readers' abilities to discern such things for themselves.

tlh said...

Er, I figured that was a standard convention. Unless I'm mis-reading the question (could be, I had a long night).

I've seen this in just about every form of writing from query letters to published fiction to screenplays -- the first time a person is referenced, the full name is used, and after that, whatever handle is most appropriate.

If the character only has one name, sure, use just that one name, but otherwise I really don't see how thats weird?

Anonymous said...

One of the other standard writing conventions I've heard of where it's appropriate to start out with full names,is when you're using omniscient POV (not that many of these first pp seem to be in it). The distancing involved in putting out a person's full name is often an indicator that the writer is trying to be the omniscient narrator.

Eden said...

Being told a full name, unless it's relevant to the story what the surname is, turns me way off, esp in short fiction. And on page 1 of a novel? Why? That's space you could devote to showing me som action instead of telling me a name.

In a query though I think an agent expects at least the narrator or MC's full name. The others? Not so much. Four? I'd switch it off.

Anonymous said...

I recently read a friend's synopsis, and this was the case. Each character was introduced in all caps, in their full name. Drove me bonkers.

Southern Writer said...

Anonymous #2, regarding those full names in caps: I think your friend read the same instructions for writing a synopsis that I read somewhere. Wish I could recall where it was. It stated that all characters' names should be capitalized, and the point of view character's name should be followed by (POV). I followed that advice the first time, but after seeing no one else was doing it, I chucked it in the trash, along with other bad ideas like speling foneticly.

docbrite said...

I think the all-caps-names-in-synopsis thing is a convention of Hollywood, where so many bad ideas come from. Every movie/screenplay synopsis I've seen has used this format.