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Discussion Starter #1
I have a somewhat tricky situation and am not entirely sure my solution will satisfy readers. I have two main female characters (one will be the focus of book one, the other the focus of the sequel.)

The two girls, through a combination of their own desire and some supernatural hocus-pocus, end up switching not only bodies, but places in time. Sort of like a Freaky Friday situation, but across two centuries as well.

Obviously, the girls know their own "real" names post-switch, but everyone they come into contact with post-switch, sees them looking the same as the old girl still. Only one or two very close friends will ever know about the switch.

The solution I have come up with for now is to have the girls want everyone to call them by a nickname (based on their original name) post-switch, that they weren't called by before. Which will, of course, seem strange to those around them, but it will only be one more thing out of many others, since they will also be acting very differently--enough so that everyone can tell something about them has changed.

I guess where I am confused is, do I start the first few chapters referring to the girls by their "real" names, then when the switch happens, do I still have the people around them refer to them by the name they THINK should be their name? Do you see how that is confusing? Ugh. I'm not even sure if my question makes sense. I guess I'm looking for a more experienced author, here, to give me a clue as to how something like this would be handled in dialogue or narrative. My main question is how to do this without confusing the reader. Or at least if someone could point me to a resource or some books I could read that are written this way and I will be happy to do the research myself, I just have no idea where to begin looking.
 
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You are overthinking it.

First, minimize the number of times someone would even HAVE to use a proper name. In the real world, how often do you use someone's name during a conversation with that person? One of the things I often do when editing is removing unneeded references to proper names. One it is established that a person thinks the girl is so-and-so, you don't need to keep addressing the fact.

Second, if the girls are in two different time periods, then the situational changes with the time periods will serve as the notice to readers that they are currently at the POV of a specific girl.

Third, trust your readers to be smart enough to follow the story. Keep it simple, and the reader will be able to follow along. The more you overthink it and artificially try to make it understandable, the more likely it will confuse people.

This is no different then when dealing with characters in disguise who are pretending to be someone else, or cases of mistaken identity.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you.

I'm sure it's no surprise to most of you, but editing someone else's work is infinitely easier than trying to write my own.  :eek:  I appreciate any and all advice. 

 

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I agree that you can minimize the number of times somebody would have to use a proper name. I wrote an entire novel in which the narrator/main character's name is never mentioned, so I know that minimizing name use can be done while still keeping the dialog and narration easy to read.

Second, the simplest solution seems to me: when you are in Girl A's POV, your narrative voice should refer to her by the name she normally uses for herself when thinking of herself. If her true name is Anne, she will still think of herself as Anne, even if she's in Girl B's body. Maybe Girl B's name is Susan. Your writing could look like this.

"Susan!"

Anne turned and saw Mark running toward her. She stopped, quickly fussed with her hair. "Hi, Mark."

"I'm in love with you, Susan! You're the woman of my dreams! Come to the opera with me tonight!"

"Okay, fine. I'll come to the opera with you if it will get you to shut up." Anne sighed. Mark was relentless, and man, did he ever love opera.


Presumably you have already shown the reader how the two women switched bodies, so there shouldn't be any confusion for the reader on why a woman named Anne is responding when somebody talks to Susan.

If you're in first-person perspective for both characters, it gets a little trickier, but again, you've already shown the switch to the reader. Trust your reader. They're smart enough to read, so they should be smart enough to follow a pretty straightforward concept like a body-switch.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
ElHawk said:
I agree that you can minimize the number of times somebody would have to use a proper name. I wrote an entire novel in which the narrator/main character's name is never mentioned, so I know that minimizing name use can be done while still keeping the dialog and narration easy to read.

Second, the simplest solution seems to me: when you are in Girl A's POV, your narrative voice should refer to her by the name she normally uses for herself when thinking of herself. If her true name is Anne, she will still think of herself as Anne, even if she's in Girl B's body. Maybe Girl B's name is Susan. Your writing could look like this.

"Susan!"

Anne turned and saw Mark running toward her. She stopped, quickly fussed with her hair. "Hi, Mark."

"I'm in love with you, Susan! You're the woman of my dreams! Come to the opera with me tonight!"

"Okay, fine. I'll come to the opera with you if it will get you to shut up." Anne sighed. Mark was relentless, and man, did he ever love opera.


Presumably you have already shown the reader how the two women switched bodies, so there shouldn't be any confusion for the reader on why a woman named Anne is responding when somebody talks to Susan.

If you're in first-person perspective for both characters, it gets a little trickier, but again, you've already shown the switch to the reader. Trust your reader. They're smart enough to read, so they should be smart enough to follow a pretty straightforward concept like a body-switch.
I like that. It will be entirely in third person. The only problem is that they aren't ever switching back. I think that's why I was thinking I needed to find some way to deal with the name issue for the ongoing future. But I prefer the advice I was given above. Keep it simple. :)

Also, I am divvying up the very early chapters between the girls long enough to introduce them and they will be introduced by date (not girl's name). Once they realize the switch has taken place, it will most likely be all one girl's story, and the next girl's story for the sequel, only because there is so much story to mine in a fish out of water tale like this, I don't want to skimp.
 

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Well, in the current Star Wars series, there is a little girl who uses a fake name of Amelia instead of her real name Allana.  They use the fake name for everything.  Dialogue, internal description and what not.  However when it's important to be reminded that she not some girl, but the future Happen Queen and super Jedi daughter of Jacen Solo who supposedly died in an assassination.  They whip out the real name.  This happens about 3-5 times per book.

So if everyone thinks and sees Jill as Jane.  Then write it as Jane.  She can be Jill when she looks in the mirror or has some break down because she is centuries in the future and cant figure out how to send a text.
 

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If they're never switching back, or if the character thinks she's going to be stuck with a new identity forever, you can have a brief period (by brief I mean one or two paragraphs) where the character struggles in internal monologue to remind herself that she has a new name now.  Do you read the A Song of Ice and Fire series?  In one book the character Sansa has to take on a new identity in order to survive.  As she struggles to remind herself that now she has to be known as Elayne, the third-person, Sansa-POV narrator eventually switches over to using the name Elayne for dialogue tags and actions.  Maybe you could do something similar.
 

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I think it might be smart to have a read of Freaky Friday and look at how they did it.  (In book form that is, not watching either of the movies).  Might give you some ideas anyway.

Good luck!
 

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I kinda had this problem in my book vampire manifesto. I had a male demon named Jenova Darkstar who possesses bodies. He ends up possessing the body of a woman named Billie Holiday.

At first I still called him Jenova Darkstar. Then I sometimes called him Jenova Darkstar (sometimes using first name, sometimes just last) and I sometimes called him/her Billie Holiday. After awhile I only called her Billie Holiday.

(see what I dd there?)

So I eased the reader into the new name until I was sure that they knew he was taking over her life, then I stopped using his old name altogether.

Idk if that helps or not...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks you guys.  Lots to think about here.  I got 1300 words written in an hour and a half, and the story is just pouring out.  It really wants to be told, so having experts to come to for help with the technical side is a lot of help.  I'll download the sample of Freaky Friday (and the whole thing if the sample doesn't get to that part).

I haven't read the Song of Ice and Fire series, but it's good to know that my instincts are right that at some point they'll need to deal with the fact that the name change is permanent if they're not changing back.
 
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