So one of my main characters uses three different names throughout the story.

There's his nickname Warlock, his name Andreas, and his shorthand name Dre.

Warlock is probably used the most, enemies use it in combat with him, along with anyone not familiar enough to use his name.

Dre is used by all of his friends.

The problem one is probably Andreas, it's used to refer to him in his POV chapters but very few people call him that. Some workshops have pointed out it does lead to some confusion trying to work out that the multiple names are in fact the same person.

Any tips on this?

Couple of minor solutions I use in places that might help show what I'm going for.

Showing his response to dialogue in other names.

"Hey Dre!" Andreas turned when he heard his name. "Oh, hey."

Describing Warlock/Dre/Andreas when he enters, drawing attention to distinguishing features or habits so readers can more easily visualise him being the same person walking into a room to save dependency on his name.


I think you need to find a consistent way to refer to him in the narration of the story.

You need to choose the name that the reader is going to know him by, if that is Andreas then your example would work perfectly regardless of what he was being called. If you emphasis those connections early in the story, maybe pointing it out in an early scene

"But Dre, why do they call you Warlock" Andreas' friend Bob asked.

Then maybe you could have his mother calling him Andreas (or hopefully something less clunky than these examples!)

Be consistent, lead the reader through story and they should be smart enough to keep track later on

  • Yes. This. Different characters should use different names for him, but pick one for the narration, or it's horribly confusing.. I once spend a few pages of a Tom Clancy novel trying to figure out why Jack and Ryan kept taking each other's stuff. – MissMonicaE Jul 6 '15 at 16:00

I'm kinda having the same problem. Got myself a protagonist who is called Edvin in my first book, and then in the second one, his past is being revealed, and he had apparently lived a whole life full of conspiracies and lies, one being his name, which he changed from Arthur to Edvin before he returned home. The second book he's going to meet several of his old friends, all of which know him only as Arthur. I was planning to change his name at the chapter like: "I'm not Edvin anymore, he was only a ruse, a lie, a character I made to hide my true self; one that was long dead in the government's eyes. I am Arthur again, shit, hearing me say that myself feels so alien now." Maybe do what I did?


I think you should only use his true name and a name used by others who don't know him well. You should make Dre his real name and remove Andreas from the whole story. Unless three names are truly needed, I think it's overdoing it. Just try two.


I really like that you have him be referred to by different names. It adds nuance to his character. Now, I did something like this in one of my books. There was a character whose full name was never used at all to reference her, except in the very beginning. It's her formal name, and is only listed on official documents, and so on. Then there's her nickname, which is used for the majority of the book. Then a single character calls her something else. However, I use the nickname the most frequently.

Also, in the example above, Andreas can just turn his head around when someone calls him. The reader will understand that the other person is referring to him.

Or you could explain up front about his three names, only this way means that you have to avoid THE DREADED BACKSTORY DUMP. Good luck, and I hope the force goes with you.

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