The Name Game

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Writer's Little Instruction Book: Craft & Techniqueby Paul Raymond Martin

Writers often name their characters so as to reflect a personality trait. In Fugitive Nights, Joseph Wambaugh carries the technique a step further. We are introduced to a retired drug cop, Jack Graves, whose state of mind has been damaged by his accidental shooting of a child in the line of duty.

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Jack Graves is, indeed, of a grave demeanor. In the course of events, we learn about Jack Graves' physical appearance, life style, and mannerisms. But the essence of Jack Graves is communicated most clearly by the simple repetition of his full name. Every time Jack Graves speaks a line, we are given both his first and last name. And Jack Graves is the only character referred to in this way. Wambaugh's technique is subtle—and effective.

Are any of your character's names worth repeating?

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