jump to last post 1-5 of 5 discussions (8 posts)

When writing about someone (say, "Joe Biggins") is it okay to switch between "Jo

  1. UnnamedHarald profile image99
    UnnamedHaraldposted 2 years ago

    When writing about someone (say, "Joe Biggins") is it okay to switch between "Joe" and "Biggins"?

    The person's name would appear many times and I wondered of changing up would be okay or confusing or whatever. Personally, I would welcome the change and also see it as cementing the person's full name in the reader's mind, but I'm interested in other opinions, especially regarding Hub articles.

  2. ematthowerton profile image72
    ematthowertonposted 2 years ago

    Very good question, Mr. Hunt.
    Personally, I have been taught in formal writing or composing literature, one should follow rule of "once it has been said once, it's fine".
    By this, I am saying once you write the name and put in parenthesis an "also known as", you may put whichever noun you feel comfortable putting there.
    For Example:

    "E Matt Howerton (also know as Howerton or E Matt) is a writer on HubPages. Howerton has been on HubPages for about a year. Just recently, E Matt posted a response to a question asked by another Hubber. Howerton has a few new articles you should check out."

    I hope this helps.

    1. UnnamedHarald profile image99
      UnnamedHaraldposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks E Matt. I agree that in a less formal text (like HubPages) it's not frowned up to use both names every now and then.

    2. ematthowerton profile image72
      ematthowertonposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      No problem David.

  3. DzyMsLizzy profile image97
    DzyMsLizzyposted 2 years ago

    In journalistic tradition, the person's full name appears the first time they are mentioned, and thereafter in the article, only their surname is used.

    For example, "Senator Joe Biggins, (party, state), introduced a bill to... blah, blah, blah, blah...  Due to public outcry, however, Biggins was forced to reverse his position.  (Don't we wish!  LOL)

    However, in story telling, the first name is the more usual convention.  That said, you don't want to overdo it, and use their name every single time they are mentioned.

    The context of the story should be able to make it clear about whom the author is writing by the use of the personal pronouns "he" or "she."  Use of the name again is appropriate if there has been a passage of time (i.e., several pages of action) without mention of the person. But if you are in the same time frame, don't keep saying "Joe" over and over again.  It becomes a distraction.

    You don't want to see, "Joe Biggins drove down the road impatiently, as he was late for an appointment.  Joe was getting angrier and angrier that he seemed to hit every red light.  Joe was so mad that he ended up spilling his coffee in his lap.  Joe had to take even more time, to go home and change his clothes.  This made Joe's mood ever more foul." 

    Instead, you would substitute "he" or "his" for all the subsequent uses of "Joe" in those sentences.

    So, in the end, it depends upon what you are writing:  a newspaper or magazine article dealing in facts, or a fictional piece of whatever type.

    1. UnnamedHarald profile image99
      UnnamedHaraldposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      I completely agree about overuse of the names-- especially where pronouns can be used without confusion (when a proper name is necessary because it's not clear who the the pronoun is refering to).  Thank you for your answer, DzyMsLizzy.

  4. lotusb34 profile image60
    lotusb34posted 2 years ago

    I suppose how professional you would like your article to appear.

  5. profile image0
    Anastasia Rokinaposted 2 years ago

    You can interchange them, but for the sake of consistency I would stick to one name. Makes it easier for the readers. They associate the character with one name, rather than a few he is known by.

    I find that if a character is known by two or three names, they become two or three different "versions" of that character. For example, Joe Biggins can be "Joe" to his friends and family, "Biggins" at work, and "JB" at the local pub. If someone says "Hey Joe!" we can automatically assume it's someone who knows him personally, versus "Oh you must be JB!" - someone from the pub who knows him in a different way.

    I suppose that's mostly dialogue, but even based on that, you can choose the name you will refer to him in your story, at the same time choosing how you want to reader to associate with the character. Do you want the reader to associate the character with the professional Biggins? Or the casual Joe? Or JB because that's the version of your character that is lesser known and what you want to focus on?