Brainstorming: Nameless

As mentioned before, names and their power are a recurring theme in my writing. Maybe this is the influence of the more Aboriginal belief system I seem to have landed in? Anyways, I attach a huge amount of significance to the names I give my characters.

And as I plot a new novel while Inherent sits at rest, I realize that I want a name to be a central point to the story.

A creature who changes with every name he is given. If he is called ‘demon’, he becomes some form of demon. If he is called ‘fool’, he will be a fool. Whether this is a literally physical transformation or merely a psychological one, I’m not sure yet.

He would be a dangerous man. He could literally be anything. He could be Mouse or Elephant, King or Slave. Originally, I thought I might make him immortal. But where is the fun in that? I’m determined to write good mortal characters, and he offers the perfect vehicle. There is also the possibility that the right name could make him immortal, or mortal, dead or alive. Names are very literal for him, you could name him ‘Richard’ and he would be a ‘Valiant Leader’ because that’s (I think…) what the name means.

But when do you forget yourself? What would remain after years of what would surely be a horrible psychological terror? For the spell to work, he would have to have forgotten his ‘core’, his real name. He is nothing without a name, and so he seeks names, hoping that he might some day find his own again.

His only ‘safety’ is that a name has to be accepted into the heart to be effective. He could, theoretically, deny a name and therefore a change. But would he remember that he could do that? Would he have memories from previous names? It might be more powerful if he remembers just three memories from each name: One good, one bad, and one piece of wisdom.

He will also be one hell of a wild card. If he’s not the main character, then no one knows what he’s going to do. So he would be an outcast at best, a slave at worst.

If he is the main character…can you, as a reader, handle following half a dozen incarnations that might take place within moments of each other? Or would that be too hard to read?

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5 Responses to “Brainstorming: Nameless”

  1. Hmm, I think too much sudden shifting would throw me if there were no core of him to hold onto, and I think a lack of core is what you are digging at here.

    Random brainstorming, is it feasible that perhaps his changes are not so sudden because the new name must be weighed against the old? Sort of a more subtle shifting toward what he is being called as it is repeated over time versus the power of what he has previously been called over a period of time. And what of the conflict between holding two names at once which do not mesh? What becomes of him?

    Definitely a tragic character and definitely an interesting character, though. And if there is some core piece of him that holds throughout his transformations, then as a reader, I think I can keep up. Without that, though, I think it would be difficult for me to draw up empathy because it would be like reading about somebody new every time.

  2. Jaym Gates Says:

    Exactly what I was looking for, and that goes a long ways towards helping me figure out who he is.

    I like the ‘meshing’. Quite difficult for people to deal with as characters too.

    Ye gads. Does anyone remember me saying Sviera was the last truly insane character I ever wanted to write?

    Because apparently, I am a liar.

  3. This sounds like a supporting character in a very long story myself. Perhaps not the focal point of change but a piece that causes it.

    I can imagine him as at times an adviser to in one point, and the enemy at another.

    He would be very complex, and you would have to limit what he could remember because no mortal mind can handle that, or at least not for long. Perhaps that might be the key, in between names he could remember thing, and that would be a driving force for him to find the next name.

    It’s a good premise sis. I like the idea.

  4. I like it as well, sounds extremely technical though, I think few could do it justic, luckily you are one of them 😀 I’m rather intrigued by the who premise, and you’re right an immortal would fit his role better, but wheres the fun in that.

    I do wonder, how would he recieve these names though? I mean in a manner of seconds a dozen names could be thrown at him, which stick and why? Perhaps not so much a name, as the way he’s treated? Or the two could do hand in hand? For example, there are ways of calling/making someone a slave without saying those words.

    Sorry don’t mean to step on toes 😀 I like it. Good Luck.

  5. Jaym Gates Says:

    It would have to be a select few people who knew HOW to make the names stick. His problem would be that he’d have all the defenses of a mentally weak person in a Roman-type society: ie. NONE. He literally would be a toy for everyone around him…and yet, he’d be a pawn to, and could be tossed around by plenty of people.

    As far as getting the names to stick…at one point, he’s branded. That brand denotes him as the monster Shep-Sin, a truly gruesome vampiric creature. He’s forced to eat human flesh, but he loathes it. And when some merciful creature blanks out that brand, they give him the name ‘Free Man’, and he goes with them and becomes a leader.

    Or so I think for now. I’ll post about the Shep-Sin later.

    “Shep-Sin did not eat human food. Shep-Sin did not drink human drink. Shep-Sin ate human flesh. Shep-Sin drank human blood.
    He did not feel like Shep-Sin. Human blood repulsed him. Causing harm made him physically ill. But oh, he was hungry!”

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