Three Reasons Why I Didn’t Name My Narrator

If you’ve been hanging around my blog during my NaNoWriMo talks, you’ll probably know by now that the name of my main character has never been revealed.

She does have a name, and I know what the name is, but it never felt right to include it in the story. Halfway through the novel, Elayer finally asks her what her name is, she tells him Eminence (hence the working title), which is actually what she had planned to name her sailboat before it got destroyed in the invasion.

Elayer thinks the name Eminence is ridiculous and proceeds to call her “Em,” but I feel weird calling her “Em” because my own name is Emily, so I sometimes call her E here on the blog.

Her true name, though, is never stated, so I thought I’d share my three reasons why:

1) Her name didn’t naturally fit into the story.

The story follows a first-person, present-tense narration. My MC doesn’t have any human interaction until almost halfway through the novel, except what is shown in flashbacks. A lot of the story is her interpretation of the things around her and the things that she remembers. By the time I got to a place to naturally introduce her name, it seemed irrelevant. By that point, the reader was already familiar with her voice and character without a name, and I liked that. Throwing a name in after eight chapters seemed clunky, so I chose to leave it out instead of forcing it.

2) Her name is tied to the way things were before the invasion.

It’s a novel about change. There are really two stories going on: what’s happening to her in the present, and what events in the past led to the present circumstances. After the invasion, her country is completely destroyed. Hundreds are killed, and the rest either lose their memories or are turned into monsters. Everything about their way of life is lost, and she must learn how to live in the present world. On top of that, she begins to uncover secrets about Arcadia that completely change her perception of it. As a result, the person who she is in the present timeline is much different from the person she was in the past, so the change of name seemed appropriate.

3) I didn’t want her to be another “chosen one.”

You’ve seen it before. So-and-so holds the key. Only she has the power to save the world.

I didn’t want this story to be like that. Even though she is the only Arcadian with her memories intact, and even though she discovers that she has the power to bring back the memories of others, she is not the chosen one. This isn’t a story of destiny. She represents any Arcadian; it could have happened to any of them. Any one of them could have been the cause for change, it just happens to have fallen on my MC. Because I wanted to stress this point, I didn’t even reveal the names of her family members. Her mother, father, and siblings are all blank slates. They represent average Arcadians, not special members chosen by fate.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you ever had a narrator/main character that you left unnamed? How do you usually choose your names? Have you ever read or watched something that left the main character unnamed? HOW DID IT MAKE YOU FEEL?


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