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Dealing with an MC who never got named

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I know this sounds a little odd, but I'm retelling BatB (put down your pitchforks), and the Beauty initially has no name.   The Beast will actually be the one to name her. 

But I'm trying to figure out how to write someone who was never given a name.  That's not something you usually see, and I imagine that not being given a name would be a bit depressing for the person in question.  But the Beauty is a happy girl, or at least, tries to be on the surface.  Would anyone have any suggestions as to how my MC would live life without a name?  Would it be jarring to the reader once the girl was given her name halfway through the story?
#1 - January 13, 2019, 05:43 PM

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This isn't going to help, but...

Does she not live with other people? People name things. She would even name herself -- even if it was just 'Me'

When you call a dog, 'Dog', that's still the name you've given it. I'm not sure how she could not have a moniker of some sort, unless there was no sense of language. But perhaps you can make her name more like a title, e.g. call her 'Daughter' or 'Tinker'.
#2 - January 13, 2019, 06:21 PM

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I agree with David. She's known as something unless she's been hidden away. And she calls herself something. Figuring out how other people have referred to her may help you decide how to do it in the book. Names are social constructs and legal monikers.

As far as whether you'll jar the reader, this depends on how you handle it in the text. It's in the execution, not the fact of it.
#3 - January 13, 2019, 09:11 PM
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Who is telling the story? If it's Beauty, then she  will refers to herself as I (if it's first person narration and she's awake, lol). If other people are narrating, they could refer to her as the sleeping girl. As David points out, she will have a sense of self.

I just finished a book, Name Unspoken by Cadence McManimon, in which a boy discovers a girl in the forest who's been on her own as a small child and has forgotten the language she had and the boy thinks of her as the forest girl.
#4 - January 14, 2019, 05:46 AM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Vijaya, both Beauty and the Beast tell the story from their POV, with occasional insight from others.  In the background of my mind, the Beast calls her all sorts of derogatory names, until he realizes he loves her, and names her Beauty.
#5 - January 14, 2019, 06:37 AM

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Beauty could have a name, but the Beast could refuse to use it. He could even refer to her as Girl, or Wench, or something else. This could happen early in the story, so that the lack of knowing Beauty's real name wouldn't seem so strange to the reader.  As the Beast changes and also his perceptions, he could start calling her Beauty.
#6 - January 14, 2019, 10:48 AM

Hi Lauren,

Sounds like you are thinking along two separate lines: you have the question of how Beauty feels about not having a name, and then there is the issue of how to talk about her to the reader without being confusing.

In terms of how she feels about not having a name, I agree it could make her sad and it would likely be something she would address, but you can use that as character building.

In terms of how to talk about her to the reader without a name, I just think you need to be clear and consistent. Maybe you refer to her as "the girl" or "the maiden" etc. You just want to be consistent enough that the reader feels connected to her and always knows to whom you are referring.

It sounds like you want to make her lack of name and eventual naming part of the story and I think you can do that. Good luck!
#7 - January 14, 2019, 11:38 AM

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