Saturday Writers Group: Names and Stanzas

14 Jul

Yet again, I’m way behind on getting these posts up. My Saturday group met on 7-June and this is just now being posted. I’m embarrassed!

One of our members is a talented poet, but she says the thing she struggles with most is stanza breaks in her poems, so this is something we always talk about with her work. The poem she brought had a series of illusions and we discussed if it was better to separate each illusion into its own stanza or to keep them in one stanza and let them bleed together. It the poem is about illusions, isn’t it good to let them become one and create an ultimate illusion? I feel there are some poems that work better in one stanza and others that need to be broken apart to clarify the meaning. When do you break a poem into stanzas?

Some books will have a character without a name, referred to as ‘the boy’ or ‘the mother.’ We talked about the effects of doing this. Does it give the characters a more universal appeal than ‘Brian’ or ‘Mrs. Horm’ would? Certain stories seem to need something like this where as others seem awkward when written this way. When is it okay to not name a character?

One of our members writes personal essays and this got me thinking. In real life, it’s likely that I have two friends named Cat (this happened in college). In real life, that’s fine; you create nicknames or say ‘Blonde Cat’ when talking about these people. But if I were to write a story and Cat and Cat appeared in it, should I change one of their names? Should I refer to one as Catherine and the other Cat? Is it okay to change people’s names to make a stronger distinction between them in a personal essay? When would you keep them the same?

I hope you like the shorter post! Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

4 Responses to “Saturday Writers Group: Names and Stanzas”

  1. Molly Mortensen July 14, 2014 at 1:20 PM #

    Sometimes naming a character makes them seem more important than the are and if there are already a lot of characters it can get confusing. I originally named every person in my book, but I had so many important characters already I went through and removed the names of the blacksmith and the ostler and the like. What do you think?


    • Sam July 14, 2014 at 2:20 PM #

      I’m in agreement when it comes to minor characters. Sometimes, it just gets cumbersome and it’s best to call them ‘the blacksmith.’
      Another question is when it’s a main character. The example that comes to mind is the movie ‘Drive’ with Ryan Gosling. His character is never named, he’s just “The Driver.” In what circumstances is this ‘okay’ and when is it annoying to you as a reader?


      • Molly Mortensen July 14, 2014 at 2:42 PM #

        I think it’s only annoying when the character is repeatedly mentioned as the driver.


      • Sam July 14, 2014 at 3:04 PM #

        I agree. I’ve seen this done some times to make the character seem more ‘universal’ but I tend to find it frustrating.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: