When writing or brainstorming the beginnings of a story, one complication that paralyzes the writer is what to name their character?
Some have a placeholder name such as “John Doe,” waiting for the character to reveal their name once the story is complete and will add this new name while editing.
Others, like myself, go to Google for unique, unusual, or rare names. But what if we made the decision not to name our characters at all?
For this prompt, resist the urge to name your main character. Instead, consider characters such as
- Cathy Ulrich’s, “The Astronaut’s Wife,” who is simply known by her wife’s job title and role in their marriage.
- Hema Nataraju’s “middle-aged commuter,” or
- Eric Scot Tryon’s “Wife #2.”
How do names identify our characters? Are they defined by their job title, feelings, or their role in the world around them?
DO NOT be afraid to experiment and, as always, have fun! Afterall, someone dared to create villains such as Polkadot Man and Condiment King.
After the Thrill by Amy Lyons
Compound by Noa Covo
You Were Only Waiting for This Moment to Arrive by Kathy Fish
Rumors from the Castle by Cathy Ulrich
K. B. Carle
K.B. Carle lives and writes outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her flash has been published in a variety of places including Lost Balloon, Five South Lit., The Rumpus, JMWW, and elsewhere. K.B.’s stories have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, and her story, “Soba,” was included in the 2020 Best of the Net anthology. Her story, “A Lethal Woman,” will be included in the 2022 Best Small Fictions anthology. She can be found online at kbcarle.com or on Twitter @kbcarle.
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