Naming Characters (and Places, Groups, Gods…)

I’m awful with names. Actually that undersells how bad I am. I’m the kind of person who likes things to be precise and correct from the beginning (engineering hat) so I don’t even like having placeholders and calling my characters Bob, Janet, and Tony. I’ve tried, really, but I keep fidgeting and will spend hours trying to come up with the perfect name. Plus even if I somehow move on find/replace can only do so much. If I screw up and talk about how Bbo and Tony are trying to one-up each other to take Janet on a date we all know what’s going to happen.

The solution: placeholders. Yeah, even though I hate them they’re still the best option. Let’s look at a practical example.

\newglossaryentry{first-guy}{
  name = {Bob},
  description = { }
}
\newglossaryentry{second-guy}{
  name = {Tony},
  description = { }
}
\newglossaryentry{girl}{
  name = {Janet},
  description = { }
}
\gls{first-guy} and \gls{second-guy} both have a crush
on \gls{girl}.  I'd tell you who gets her in the end but
 I haven't actually thought that far ahead.

That’s from a stupid LaTeX file I just wrote that spits out the following: “Bob and Tony both have a crush on Janet. I’d tell you who gets her in the end but I haven’t actually thought that far ahead.” Notice how their names only appear in one place each, where I define the glossary entries? This means I can come in later, change Bob to Brad, and after I process the file again I end up with: “Brad and Tony both have a crush on Janet. I’d tell you who gets her in the end but I haven’t actually thought that far ahead.”

Now I can pick names that are good enough (mostly ones I blatantly pilfer from video games) and I don’t have to worry about find/replace letting me down when I go through later with better names. It’s already helped me once when I realized there were two businesses with “Irving” in their name (courtesy of Lloyd Irving from Tales of Symphonia) so all I had to do was update one entry in my glossary files and my name duplication issue went away.

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