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What Would You Do? Change of name / POV

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Andrew Okey

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Happy Monday everyone - so, here's the thing. I'm writing about the Venetian painter, Tintoretto. That was only a nickname (in fact, it was a snide nickname, one whose venom he transcended and made powerful). HIs real name was Jacopo Robusti and when I am writing from his perspective (in close focus third person POV) he is always 'Jacopo'. However, some passages are written from the point of view of a Cretan woman (again 3rd person POV). When she first meets him, she doesn't know him and so he appears in those passages as Tintoretto - his public persona. However, once they are friends he insists she should call him Jacopo and, from that point forward, that's how he appears in passages written from her perspective.

Is this >> entirely correct and appropriate?
>> confusing to the reader?
>> not actually confusing but certainly bullshitty over-cleverness on my part?
 

Barbara

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In my view,

entirely correct and appropriate
You say:

he insists she should call him Jacopo and, from that point forward, that's how he appears

Does she comply easily? Does she want to call him by that name? Does she do it reluctantly? Does she slip up at certain times? Or use his real name when she's annoyed with him? Either way, I think it's characterisation / character progression. Is it clear from the beginning that he has a nickname? On the basis he insists, I suspect the readers won't be confused.

Happy Monday to you too.
 

Andrew Okey

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In my view,


You say:



Does she comply easily? Does she want to call him by that name? Does she do it reluctantly? Does she slip up at certain times? Or use his real name when she's annoyed with him? Either way, I think it's characterisation / character progression. Is it clear from the beginning that he has a nickname? On the basis he insists, I suspect the readers won't be confused.

Happy Monday to you too.

Thanks Barbara,

Bit of each. Its clear from the very beginning that it's a nickname (coming to a pop up submission near you, sometime soon!!) BUT she does take time to adapt - as a servant her instinct is to call him Sir, but that's only what she feels she should say, not what her internal perspective on him might be. I guess the strongest argument for calling him Tintoretto, though, is not confusion avoidance but to provide more distinction between story elements from Tintoretto's POV and from her POV. Hmm... it'll all come out in the editing process, I guess!
 

Eva Ulian

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I'd stick to just one name- Tintoretto. Any other and you take out all the magic of the novel as people identify with "Tintoretto" and not Jacopo, which would have no resonance with readers.
 

Andrew Okey

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I'd stick to just one name- Tintoretto. Any other and you take out all the magic of the novel as people identify with "Tintoretto" and not Jacopo, which would have no resonance with readers.
I totally get that, its a good point but I'm still not sure - because we see him in his domestic setting, as a father, a friend, a man who is doing everything to protect his family. The danger of only using his nickname is that it might put a barrier between him and the reader (and his internal perspective on himself is surely that he is Jacopo?)
 

Eva Ulian

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I'm afraid I don't see it that way- what can be more intimate than being called "dyer of cloths"? For him there is nothing more familiar and at the same time traditional than such a name embodies. Did you not get called by a nickname in your lifetime? People know me and still call me by my nickname.

The barrier created with Tintoretto and the reader is the one created if he is called by any other name- It will sound stilted, aloof and detached, not homely as to what readers are used to know this painter by- I think. But that's only how I would react if I were reading such a book...
 
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Katie-Ellen

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I don't see there's a problem with it, Andrew. Depending on the clarity of the writing. That's how it works in real life. Of course he will expect a friend to call him by whatever name he wants her to use. We all have more than one name, one persona, depending who we're talking to, more or less public or private.
 

Robinne Weiss

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I think it's just fine to change his name, based on his relationship to other characters--readers will get it, and it will add depth to the changing relationship between the characters.

In my middle-grade dragon series, the main characters' school goes through a dramatic change, and teachers who previously went by their last names change to going by their first names--not one reader has ever mentioned having trouble with that transition (the characters struggle briefly with it, and it gives me the opportunity to make the multiple name connections more than once as they mess up and call teachers by their last names, then correct themselves). If ten-year-old kids can handle multiple characters changing names, I don't see any reason adults can't manage one.
 

Eva Ulian

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I don't think I've explained myself well on the above posts. It's not that I think readers are too slow witted not to be able to manage a character to be called by more names than one... I'm just saying that the name "Tintoretto" resonates in readers' mind more so than Jacopo could ever do. And if a book is about Tintoretto, it would be a hard thing to swallow if I find that is not the case.

However, an author could well play a trump card on this double name. Tintoretto probably despised being called Tintoretto because it means "Cloth Dyer", and he was a painter... surely his pride had a real knock out. Just imagine the drama! Since Tintoretto seemed an impulsive, if not rebellious sort of fellow he would probably have kicked someone in the face if he was called by that nickname...

I'm afraid what Juliet says in Romeo and Juliet: "is a rose not a rose by any other name", simply does not apply here...
 
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RK Capps

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Personally, as a reader, I'd be interested to learn something other than the norm about someone famous.
 

Barbara

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Personally, as a reader, I'd be interested to learn something other than the norm about someone famous.
Totally agree with this. Using just that one name may resonate with some readers, but it's always nice to see/read something from a different perspective, and hopefully most readers are willing to go beyond their own worldview (in this case: his name ) and be open to the fact that he's being called by other names.

And then there are of course those readers who've never heard of Jacopo (I'm sure they don't mind what name is used).

Personally, I write for the truth of my novel, not for the reader. I apply craft to make it 'readable' for the reader and to grip them; to pull them along the journey, but the truth of my story's world comes first. Sometimes suspension of disbelief may have to apply too. The reader will either follow me if I've done a good job, or they won't if I didn't. But like I said, that's just the way I write.
 

Eva Ulian

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@Barbara @RK Capps Frankly I can't see how an author writing about Tintoretto can get away with not mentioning his other name Jacopo. As I mentioned, the author can capitalize on this duality of names. There is huge potential drama in this if Andrew wishes to exploit it.

As I mentioned, Tintoretto probably hated this nickname which he "inherited" being born into the trade of a cloth dyer, which is what the nickname means. And judging by the fact he was kicked out only after 10 days apprenticeship in an art studio, had eight children and his paintings have the vigor and musculature of a man of not so quiet a nature, he must have made a fuss, every time anyone called him "Tintoretto", a name thrust upon him by society and was therefore considered his "surname"... In effect he doesn't have a surname for certain; his father was called Robusti o Comili- one does not know- the only name for certain we have for this painter is Tintoretto and this should be highlighted above all others, if we want to be credible.

But certainly @Andrew Okey, do not overlook the dramatic undertones in the importance of being, no, not Jacopo, but Tintoretto. Good luck, you have chosen an exciting subject.
 

Barbara

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I can't see how an author writing about Tintoretto can get away with not mentioning his other name Jacopo.
@Eva Ulian Apologies, we must have got our wires crossed somewhere. @RK Capps and I said he should use his other name, and that he should capitalize on his duality.

In my post I was explaining my different view to this below (I should have made clear that this was what I was referring to):
I'd stick to just one name- Tintoretto.

Anyhow, I have to google him now. He sounds like a fascinating character.
 

Paul Whybrow

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Readers like pet names—it creates a sense of intimacy—revealing the personal relationship between characters. My protagonist in the Cornish Detective series insists on being called "Sir" in the police station and while investigating out in the field, but answers to "Neil" when relaxing with his team in the pub. He becomes more human then, not just a representative of law and order.
 

Susan

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Sounds like an intriguing character, @Andrew Okey! I’d love to read any excerpts you might post in the writing group. I’m with the consensus here. Unless you have several characters with multiple names, there shouldn’t be any confusion.

And this:
I think it's just fine to change his name, based on his relationship to other characters--readers will get it, and it will add depth to the changing relationship between the characters.
 

Andrew Okey

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@Barbara @RK Capps Frankly I can't see how an author writing about Tintoretto can get away with not mentioning his other name Jacopo. As I mentioned, the author can capitalize on this duality of names. There is huge potential drama in this if Andrew wishes to exploit it.

As I mentioned, Tintoretto probably hated this nickname which he "inherited" being born into the trade of a cloth dyer, which is what the nickname means. And judging by the fact he was kicked out only after 10 days apprenticeship in an art studio, had eight children and his paintings have the vigor and musculature of a man of not so quiet a nature, he must have made a fuss, every time anyone called him "Tintoretto", a name thrust upon him by society and was therefore considered his "surname"... In effect he doesn't have a surname for certain; his father was called Robusti o Comili- one does not know- the only name for certain we have for this painter is Tintoretto and this should be highlighted above all others, if we want to be credible.

But certainly @Andrew Okey, do not overlook the dramatic undertones in the importance of being, no, not Jacopo, but Tintoretto. Good luck, you have chosen an exciting subject.

Eva (and everyone),

What's most likely is that the name 'Tintoretto' was a deliberately hurtful insult which referenced his low class artisan background, and was the coinage of Pietro Aretino. Aretino would more naturally have been a friend to Jacopo Robusti (who could also be called Jacopo Comin as Robusti was also a nickname. Gah!) and certainly commissioned work from him when he was up-and-coming, but Aretino was in Titian's clique and Titian hated Jacopo's style, so made Aretino choose between the two of them.

Titian, safe to say, doesn't exactly come out of my writing smelling of roses!

Anyway, just as (for example) 'queer' and the n-word have been reclaimed by victim communities as symbols of power and unity, so Tintoretto took up the name and made it his unique brand, a strength. As you say, the duality in that is fascinating and also very useful. My theme is magical thinking (the ways we try to convince ourselves we may have some control over all the things we have no control over), or - to place that in its medieval context - faith in an interventionist supernatural. So my character understands the world just as it is, but also believes he has insight into a parallel spiritual world; meanwhile he is playing out different identities/personalities in different contexts.

Susan - I've only just hit the 10,000 word marker (my first priority, as I'd like to put in for the Curtis Brown New Voices contest at the end of July) but I'm hoping that, at least, the opening segment will make it into Pop up submissions in the next 4-6 weeks or so. Maybe after that, if I have any confidence/morale left, I'll start putting stuff into the Writing Groups!

Thanks to everyone for their advice and input: I'll bear it in mind as I progress (right now I'm just settling in front of the laptop with the intention of putting Tintoretto through the funeral of a neighbour who's just died of plague... )
 

E G Logan

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Happy Monday everyone - so, here's the thing. I'm writing about the Venetian painter, Tintoretto. That was only a nickname (in fact, it was a snide nickname, one whose venom he transcended and made powerful). HIs real name was Jacopo Robusti and when I am writing from his perspective (in close focus third person POV) he is always 'Jacopo'. However, some passages are written from the point of view of a Cretan woman (again 3rd person POV). When she first meets him, she doesn't know him and so he appears in those passages as Tintoretto - his public persona. However, once they are friends he insists she should call him Jacopo and, from that point forward, that's how he appears in passages written from her perspective.

Is this >> entirely correct and appropriate?
>> confusing to the reader?
>> not actually confusing but certainly bullshitty over-cleverness on my part?
Yes, I think what you are suggesting is all of these things.
Probably best not to get into real 1500s authenticity re dialogue because it'd be confusing. And maybe take a free modern interpretation of his character! -- my art history suggests he was not a nice person.
 

Paul Whybrow

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Happy Monday everyone - so, here's the thing. I'm writing about the Venetian painter, Tintoretto. That was only a nickname (in fact, it was a snide nickname, one whose venom he transcended and made powerful). HIs real name was Jacopo Robusti and when I am writing from his perspective (in close focus third person POV) he is always 'Jacopo'. However, some passages are written from the point of view of a Cretan woman (again 3rd person POV). When she first meets him, she doesn't know him and so he appears in those passages as Tintoretto - his public persona. However, once they are friends he insists she should call him Jacopo and, from that point forward, that's how he appears in passages written from her perspective.

Is this >> entirely correct and appropriate?
>> confusing to the reader?
>> not actually confusing but certainly bullshitty over-cleverness on my part?

Of interest, maybe: Working on a Novel About an Artist? Write Like a Painter
 
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