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In my short-story/novella, the title was "Hypnos Wakes" where "Hypnos" is the name of an alien/monster thing that possesses the protagonist. The possession, as well as the protagonist's reference to Hypnos as a semi-sapient entity begins immediately, but the protagonist only gave Hypnos its name after about 4700 words.

Is this a good idea?

(In case needed, the P.O.V. is first person, the genre is Y.A., mild horror and somewhat decadent, focusing mostly on how the protagonist deals with the alien possessor and his thoughts/feelings.)

  • It is perhaps worth noting that in the novel Frankenstein the monster is never given a name at all. (The scientist who created the monster is, of course, Victor Frankenstein.) – Hugh Meyers Apr 11 '18 at 10:21
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There is nothing wrong with an unnamed entity receiving a name after there has been some interaction with it.

Let's think of an analogy. A person lives in a house in the woods. One day, some noises begin in the forest at night. At first, the person thinks the noises are from the wind. As the noises are regular and do not sound like wind, the person understands that they must be caused by some animal. As the noises persist over many days and weeks, the person understands that the animal did not just pass by once, but is living close by. He decides to give it a name.

What we see here, is that first there must be some understanding that the experience of your protagonist is not causes by something natural or within himself, but by some kind of being. And then he must realize that the being is not just visiting upon him once or twice, but has "moved in" with him and is there to stay. And finally, he has to accept the presence of the being and conceptualize some kind of relationship to it. Only then will he give it a name.

Your protagonist has first to understand that the changes overcoming him are not a shift in his mood or caused by his physiology (malnutrition, tiredness, stress). Then he has to understand that he does not suffer from some mental disorder (hallucination, delusion) but that what he experiences has some "outside" cause. Then he has to understand that that cause is not natural or random but a being with intent. And finally he has to understand that that being is there to stay with him and relate to it somehow (he will struggle against it, communicate with it, or whatever, instead of just waiting for it to pass). And finally this relationship has to lead to some form of acceptance of the entity's presence (even if it is the acceptance that he has to fight it). Only then will he give it a name.

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I don't think there is a specific time that you need to introduce the name. If it's later, that's fine. I'd caution against a bait and switch though. However, it doesn't seem like you are doing that.

When you reference someone you spend a ton of time with in real life, you often don't refer to them by name. It's only when you're talking about them to an external source that isn't familiar with them that you name them.

If "John" is your roommate, you might say "Hey John" when they come back from work, but you aren't going to do that if they've been around the whole time. So when you are watching TV on the couch and you've been hanging out for five hours, you aren't nearly as likely to say: "Hey John, pass me the remote." you'll say something like "Pass me the remote." and if that isn't noticed "Hey, pass me the remote." People won't generally address each other by name.

For your story, since Hypnos is in the main characters head, they are always with the character. Even if they converse, they aren't all that likely to use the others name. Now, if they are trying to get the others attention, that might be a situation, but if both of them are active, it's unlikely that the main character will use Hypnos name.

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Scando! Nice answer. If you have a moment, you might want to visit the help center and the tour. Enjoy yourself. – White Eagle Apr 10 '18 at 19:13
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The 'reveal' of the name may seem obvious, but the reader will be waiting for it. We will want to know if it's created by the main character, if it's an ancient title, its own taken name or whatever.

I do not believe it will be much of a shock to find out this entity is the "Hypnos" mentioned on the front cover, but it will satisfy some curiosity. If anything, the name of the book "Hypnos Wakes" offers the questions:

  • What is Hypnos?
  • What happens when it wakes up?

As such, the reveal of the name will be a highlight of the story, no matter how it is written, because it answers the first question the story offered the reader. That being said, it would probably be spoiled on the back anyway. It would be hard to give a blurb on the story that doesn't involve the possession-based-story, and your readers could probably guess that the possession would be because of this "Hypnos".

I believe spoiling the name - unless the name is supposed to be some well guarded secret - would not be a bad thing and would actually be satisfying for a reader to get to the point where the name has been "created" in the story.

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If the name is known to the main character in the beginning just tell it to the readers in the beginning. If he does not, tell the story of him finding or giving the name, so the readers finds out when the character does.

Basically, if you have an interesting story about the discovery of the name tell it and reveal the name at its end, if you don't just let the character and by extension readers have the name from the beginning.

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