Avoiding confusion of characters

by Kevin
(South Africa)

Question: I'm writing a third-person novel and the key element of my plot is a completely identical clone of my antagonist (This is played for laughs). So here's the problem...My antagonist and her clone have met so they are aware of each others existence. However, the clone refuses to accept that it is a clone, and goes by my antagonist's name whenever it introduces itself to other people (Insists on using the same name). How do I avoid confusing the reader if my antagonist shares the same name as her clone? Especially in a one-on-one fight scene...


Answer: The question is whether the narrator or narrative voice is confused.

If you are writing in third person, using an omniscient narrative voice, the narrator can simply assign different names to the characters. For instance, you can refer to Bob and Bob's clone or clone-Bob or maybe Bob2.0. Regardless how the clone introduces himself to others, the narrator knows who's who and can let the reader know by giving the right name in the narration.

Where it gets more difficult is if you are using first person narration and/or the story is being told from the point of view of a character who can't tell the two Bobs apart. In that case, the character's confusion can become the reader's confusion - which might be what you want at some point in the story. However, you may need to have your character eventually figure out a way to tell the two apart - perhaps some slight difference in hair style, clothing, or personality. The POV character may come up with his own nickname for the clone, - so that he can explain to the reader what is happening.

Comments for Avoiding confusion of characters

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Dec 20, 2012
Thank you
by: Kevin

This clears things up for future missions and sub plots in my story. The idea of wanting to confuse the reader at some point sound intriguing...*evil laughter*
I hope I can learn more from this brilliant site in the near future (Assuming that the world doesn't end today ^_^)

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