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  1. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Oh, that's quite a good idea. I've never read that book but I might have to look it up, it might give me some more ideas. I agree numbers might be confusing for the reader, but I need something impersonal. What about if they're just called demeaning things by the people in charge - "Hi, my name's Ugly" sort of thing? So to them it's important, it's their name, but to the reader it's a sign of control from the people in charge.

    Anna Katherine * Lydia Ellen * Zoe Madeleine * Phoebe ___ * Imogen ___ * Emilia ___
    Samuel * Thomas * Charlie * Reuben * Oliver * George

  2. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    New Hampshire
    Quote Originally Posted by essjay View Post
    That's a good point. Maybe I need to think the plot through a little more; the idea of them not having names was because the people who were raising them wanted them to be all the same, removing identity as a sort of control mechanism. But like you say, they need to communicate with each other somehow - maybe give them a military number instead?
    To me, it would seem like the people training them and holding them would give them a number or something bland like that. Jane12 and John32, maybe. But then, the children would be more individual than their "official" name declares. The children themselves would have either taken on their own names, or given each other more distinguishing names to call one another. Like Freckles. Or Fatso. Or Pretty Boy. Princess. Etc, etc. Think of the mean nicknames kids give one another and go with it.
    Marilyn Margaret Lucille
    Seraphine Lorelai Danielle

    Shane Benjamin Lee
    Sebastian Roger James

    Mommy to David Theodore John "Teddy" ~ June 2016

  3. #10
    Really this is a world building question. What do you want to define the characters? The identity that they had in the orphanage or the new identities they get when they are rescued? Perhaps some will stick with their orphan names and others will seek new names? It's a great character/world decision to make, so think about the underlying themes and ideas you want to convey in the story as you make the decision.

    Other ideas...
    In the Game of Throne series, the Unsullied are soldiers that technically have no names, but they go by the vermin names their trainers called them (i.e. "Grey Worm") because even if you're not supposed to have a name, people have to call you something.

    My other thought was you could to Latin number names (or numbers in any other language) to balance the idea of them being numbered, but also not confuse readers: Quintillus, Sextus, Septimus, Octavian, etc.

  4. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Just how old are they? At first, they aren't understanding the concept of names, but then, they are giving each other nicknames. First thing: pick an age range. Still very young, as in 5-8, where they are understanding basic concepts and have real intelligence and a sense of self and identity, or younger, when a personality hasn't yet developed? If it's younger, then the names would be more physical characteristic-based, whereas if they already had some intelligence, the might have a personality, to name them by, or they might already have names for themselves. If they are old enough, they've probably given each other names. If they're younger, then they haven't.

    I don't like the idea of naming using numbers, it would keep the story much more impersonal and distant, as well as hard to keep track of. If you right, "Six ran down the hallway, took a right, and gasped in surprise as he ran straight into Winnie the Poo", the most personal, recognizable thing in the sentence is Winnie the Poo, but you want it to be your character.
    “I read books when I was a kid, lots of books. Books always seemed like magic to me. They took you to the most amazing places. When I got older, I realized I couldn't find books that took me to all the places I wanted to go. To go to those places, I had to write some books myself.”
    ― Pat Murphy, The Wild Girls

    "Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words – the words live on..."
    ― J. Michael Straczynski

  5. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Perhaps they could all have military numbers, like people have suggested, but these are combined with a characteristic defined by the children to make themselves distinguishable? So if there were three children, one short and blond, one fat and short, and one tall with freckles, they might call themselves Blondone, Fattwo, and Frecklethree? Just a thought.

    Also, Latin numbers would be a cool way of doing it. From 1-10, ordinal numbers sound cooler:
    I. primus
    II. secundus
    III. tertius
    IV. quartus
    V. quintus
    VI. sextus
    VII. septimus
    VIII. octavus
    IX. nonus
    X. decimus

    Then you could refer to them more easily.
    Also, what kind of place are they living in? I know you said it is a military training program, but as it sounds like science fiction, perhaps they could have their own number system- that would be more obvious.

    One more suggestion- how about giving all the girls and all the boys the same name, but adding numbers? I know a pp said this, but if they were all Jane322 and John478, you could have them not quite properly understanding and keeping the numbers, but not the names. They could spell the numbers fonetickally, or add a characteristic. If they have several numbers, some could be dropped so you aren't writing something like fiveninethreeredhead the whole time. And the names could change over time, becoming new, distinguishable nicknames. So John478, fat and blond, might be:
    forsevenateblond to start, then become
    and end as venteblon.
    But that could be time consuming and hard to explain to readers how someone called 'John478' by the people training him became 'Venteblon' to his friends, without showing the entire process. So maybe that isn't a good idea.
    Caspian ~ Genevieve ~ Benjamin ~ Claire ~ Sebastian

    Caspian Bartholomew & Claire Gwendolen

    Currently: Corisande + Icarus + Aurelia + Casimir + Octavia

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