Monday, May 24, 2010

How To Deal With Possession

No, this is not a demonic user's guide, it is a question.  In my story, one of my characters becomes possessed.  For a time, they share a body, until the original owner's soul is booted out.  From that time on, whenever referring to the character inhabiting said body, I have a bit of a challenge.  For the most part, I refer to the entity by name. Let's say that Orville possessed Jerry.  There was a fight.  Orville won.  Now he's walking around in Jerry's body.

As a writer, I must convey Orville's actions, even though they take place in Jerry's body.  Mostly I refer to Orville as Orville.  A few times, however, I include things to remind the reader Orville is using Jerry's body.  I might say something like:

Orville waved Jerry's fist in anger.

Or, some of the actual text:

Elliott grabbed Orville's hand - Jerry's hand - and stretched it out across the deck...With swift precision, Elliot plunged the dagger at the deck.  It tore through flesh, severed the bone and the finger flew from Jerry's hand.

Confusing?  Not to me, but I know all too clearly who is who.  This was from the same scene that gave my critique group a headache because five characters were too many.  Orville is only one character, but throwing Jerry's name into the mix probably didn't help.

Has anyone else ever dealt with this?  Or read anything like it?


Tina Lynn said...

I have the same thing in one of my books. I called him Ramiel-Lucas. That's just the way the MC referred to him. First name was the possessor, second the body.

Natasha Bennett said...

I did the same thing in one of my novellas. I think there are really two different issues. For the main character's POV, it's whoever spends more time being developed-either the possessor, or the one possessed. For example, in my novella Amy's character had been developed many chapters before being possessed by Tom, so it was mostly her POV (in the form of blackouts).

For other characters in your novel, I would think they would mostly refer to that person as Jerry (as they know Jerry more than they know Orville) with an occasional sentence referring to Orville thrown in to remind the readers.

I hope that's not too confusing :)


Travener said...

Nope, never done it. I stick to reality. Good luck.

Erica Chapman said...

Hmm. well the knowledge I have is from movies, not books, so... yeah. I think having 2 names would get confusing, but that's just me. I'd stick with who the reader knows the best and mention the entity here and there to remind them.

If they know the body is possessed, that's all you need. Trust your reader to know.

Good luck dude ;o)

Bossy Betty said...

Matt: I see you are now a follower of Betty. All is forgiven. Let's have make-up blogging. I hear it is fun.