Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Characters Call Each Other

            “Fifteen seconds!” snarled the Goblin, and pulled back the hammer on the pistol.
            “I don’t know!” I yelled. My mind was a whirl.  The plan was in tatters.  Was this how New York State was to end, on a little hill in the Stansby-Williams Park in Applesey, because a ten-year-old ghost couldn’t think straight?
            “Ten seconds!  You will make me kill the girl!”
            “Frankie, I gotta tell you something,” Bron rocked back and forth, her eyes closed and her face calm and thoughtful. 
            “Please, no!” pleaded Jimmy, but this time the Goblin didn’t hit her.
            I was trapped.  If I surrendered myself, Canker would kill me, probably kill Bron and Jimmy anyway, and then go commit the murders as planned.  I had to jump the Goblin, there was no other choice.  Could I even hurt him?  Or could I signal Edmund Serious to help me?  I glanced at Serious – he was chewing on a fingernail and didn’t meet my gaze.
            “My name isn’t Bron.”  She was still rocking, and now Canker ignored her.
            “Five seconds!”
            “It’s Bronwen!” and she attacked.
*   *   *
How characters address each other really matters.  Above is a distinctive example, in which Bronwen, known to her male friends as Bron, chooses to reveal her full, more feminine name, in a moment of great physical courage and risk.

But how characters address each other matters in any conversation.  Take two men, A and B.  They are having a dialog, and A addresses B, using one of the following:

  • Sir
  • Mr. President
  • Mr. Johnson
  • Johnson
  • James
  • Jimmy
  • Jerkwad
  • Dad
(I don't mean to imply anything by the order of the foregoing.)  The name, or nickname, or title, chosen, reflects the relationship between the two characters and also the frame of mind of the speaker.

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