Developing Your Character

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #003.

Does he have any nicknames?

Not every character is simply known by his name or alias (established in previous issues). Some go by nicknames, which are either terms of endearment, or abbreviated forms of their original names. In the Star Wars franchise, Han, and then, by extension, everyone else, addresses his copilot as Chewie because it’s shorter and easier to say than Chewbacca. In Ready Player One, Aech refers to Parzival as Z instead of using his gamer tag whenever he wants to address him.

What was the spirit behind his nicknames?

Not every nickname is given as a term of endearment. At times, a nickname may be given to a character as an insult, or out of frustration. In Get Smart, the other agents call Max a variety of nicknames, such as Maxi Pad, because they dislike him. In Hey Arnold!, Helga calls Arnold ‘Football Head’ as an insult, meant to hide the fact that she is in love with him.

How does he feel about his nicknames?

Just as not every nickname is given as a term of endearment, not every character always appreciates or is amused by his nicknames. In fact, some come to the point of absolutely hating their nicknames. In Get Smart, Max grows highly frustrated by the constant nicknames that the other agents bestow upon him, offering up sarcastic responses to discourage their behavior. In Big Hero 6, Wasabi is very frustrated about the fact that his nickname came from a singular incident of spilling wasabi on his shirt.

Has he ever tried to change his nickname?

A character may have such strong negative feelings regarding the nicknames his friends have bestowed upon him that he actively works to convince them to refer to him by different nicknames. In The Big Bang Theory, Howard actively tries to convince his fellow astronauts to choose the nickname Rocket Man for him, while they instead elect to call him Fruit Loops.

The Writer’s Everything

This article, as well as many others, have been featured in previous issues of my writing journal, The Writer’s Everything, in which I, along with occasional guest contributors, provide essays, guides, encouragement, motivation, writing prompts, character bio development kits, and anything else that can help you turn your dream of becoming a writer into a reality.

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