What are you writing?

I often deliberately choose names for my characters that obscure their gender. In this particular case I was thinking of Morgan le Fay although the character in question has nothing in common with that figure of legend.


Written English is, in fact, my native language.


I think there is a slight rhetorical difference. The final word in the sentence is the most emphatic; being last, it’s the one that will be retained in the reader’s memory. So if you say

“You weren’t saying anything,” said Morgan

it tends to emphasize that it was Morgan who said that, and not someone else. Whereas

“You weren’t saying anything,” Morgan said

does not emphasize the identity of the speaker; it’s more a routine marker. And “said” is such a low-energy verb that the emphasis doesn’t do much of anything to it; the whole sentence is unemphatic.

You could also say

Morgan said, “You weren’t saying anything”

but I think that

Said Morgan, “You weren’t saying anything”

sounds kind of strange and it would be unusual for a native English speaker to use it.


In the US, a Morgan under the age of 40 is almost certainly female. A Morgan over 50 or so is probably male. In between, flip a coin. That’s from subjective experience. I’m not going ot dig through the social security name data to quantify it.


http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/index.html won’t compare them side by side, but will give you a popularity rank for male (jumped from the 400s to the 200s about 1980, slid back from about 2000) and female (appeared in 1976, top 100 from 1987 to 2012).


Apparently “John” isn’t even in the top 200 for the 2010s; everyone just wanted to call their boys Noah or Liam instead :open_mouth: Who woulda thunk?

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Hmm, the barchart you get under “See How the Popularity of a Name has Changed Over Time” puts it gradually falling but still at #28 in 2019.

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Ah, yeah, I just missed it cause I’m stupid. #26, though, which is still pretty low considering.

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Today I finished the first draft section on Arcolais for my project Forty Exotic Worlds. It is 1,495 words, and took two days of three hours each, but I’m content that I will be able to pick up the pace.


Congrats :slight_smile: You have written more words in two days than I have the whole month despite my intentions. I cannot write “best intentions”. No words have been written.

I think I need to go read. Reading motivates me to write–usually.


Yesterday I rattled off 1500 words of documentation for the Flamme Rouge software (which probably needs a name). I’m quite familiar with the coding trance in which I simply go at a thing and don’t notice distractions; it’s new to me when writing docs.


Today I finished writing at 5,399 words. Still well shy of what I would like, but that’s okay. Progress. I will get even more progress on Wednesday, but I have to step up the pace.

I have to pre-book my editor’s time in April (1st-15th), which means I need the second complete draft finished before then. At this rate it will take far, far too long, so I have to average about 10,000/week for the next month to get anywhere close.

Upside, I am enjoying writing the story a good deal. Mina Hattori (my protagonist) makes me smile.


Dammit, Roger, what are you doing bringing facts in to this for?

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Does she look like Uma Thurman? I feel with that name she should be a character from Kill Bill :wink:
(I sometimes take pictures of movie characters and put them with my character notes to give myself a better visual)

My protagonists are a weird bunch usually. I am very scared of having a Mary Sue character and I also don’t really want them to be an obvious author-standin but then it comes to a point where I enjoy writing any of the side characters more and the main character who is supposed to be protagging becomes a lifeless husk…

My current protagonist Asta is–despite my best intentions–yet another instance of this problem. I find her “sidekick” Morgan much more interesting to write than her. Even though the next scene I am supposed to write should be so cool. Asta meets someone unexpectedly… and…


It’s a problem many writers have had. I remember Ayn Rand complaining that the side character Petronius was much more interesting than the Christian protagonists of Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis . . .

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No, in my head she looks more like Misaki Ito or Rinko Kikuchi. Solidly in her 40s, blazing eyes, dark hair that coils around her head when in zero-g, absolutely capable of kicking your ass but totally unable to put up with your shit.

Plus, you know… Japanese. :slight_smile:

Although far enough in the future that if you were to meet her the concept of “race” would be completely irrelevant, it’s not irrelevant today, and so, Japanese.

Her sidekick is named Cici DiSenza, and she’s the young, bright-eyed, optimistic one. A bit too naive, but her heart is definitely in the right place. Plus she’s a much better shot than Hattori.

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You can have a character be pretty awesome and not be a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Mary Sue is awesomeness without struggle or justification (especially when other characters are artificially made weaker or dumber to make the Sue more awesome). A superhero is a Mary Sue when they are living their regular civilian life - but not a Mary Sue as soon as Darkseid shows up and they are being chased by Omega Beams. Or, in Spiderman’s case, when they realize that balancing superhero duties with normal life is impossible.
It’s okay to make a spectacular character as the main character - just make them face greater odds to balance it out. Indeed, if you’ve got some pretty amazing/interesting side characters - if your main character is too boring/weak they would certainly notice, and wouldn’t be likely to go along with them.

It took me a bit to figure out what you meant. You’re saying that you shouldn’t have to specify ‘Japanese’ because it wouldn’t exist in the future, but you’re doing so for ease of description, correct?

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Basically, yes. I’m never going to describe her as Japanese in the book, other than briefly mentioning her hair colour (black) and general height/size. In my mind she’s Japanese, but in the future I’m writing there is no connection to Earth or old nation-states, so her name is just a name.

My last Japanese character I wrote (three or four novels ago… “Starconvoy EH-76”) didn’t use contractions as a holdover from her Japanese language upbringing, but that made several of my beta readers suspect she was an android, which she wasn’t. So I’m just going to have Hattori speak in a way specific to her as a character (a little double-speak-prone, lots of veiled threats and a lack of comprehension about why other people don’t understand everything she’s talking about as quickly as she does), and not to any historic elements.

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I’ve made some progress with writing GURPS martial arts for dwarves, goblins and elves. At some point I should really contact SJGames and see if they actually want those… I’m enjoying coming up with spurious etymologies, histories and suchlike, as well as the mechanics of new techniques (non-combat skills are severely under-loved in that regard).

I agree with the others here - I think if you’re aware of the risk then you’re very unlikely to do it. And it’s also really dependent on the context, like the tone of the story, genre, and the capabilities of other characters.

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GURPS already has GURPS Martial Arts: Styles of Yrth, which includes Battlecraft (dwarves), Dragon Fighting (reptile men), Harmony (halflings), Sylvan War Lore (elves), and Ulvinger Fighting (werewolves), plus various underwater styles. So they might feel that that ground is covered.