The plot of the novel is the following: The villain has body-swapped with the MC and I want to keep this hidden and reveal it as a plot twist in the middle of the story.

If MC real name is John and the villain name is Mike and I start calling the MC as Mike, once I reveal the body change, should I keep naming MC as Mike or could I start using their real names (they haven't changed back bodies yet)?

EDIT: As you were asking for more details I'll give you: The narrator is in third person (so, none of them is the narrator). They both keep it secret, as the villain wants to be on the MC position, and the MC don't tell anything because he fears that people will think he is crazy.

EDIT2: I want to make chapters focused on characters. For example, one chapter will be focused on what Mike does, and the next will focus on what John does, so that's why I thought using third person narrator.

  • What point of view are you using? I'm guessing third person esternal narrrator, but it's probably better to point it out in the question in order to make it easier to answer.
    – Liquid
    Nov 25, 2019 at 7:51
  • Could you precise if both of them will keep this secret ? Because the good guy might want to warn everyone that the other is not him, or they might not react when called by the name of the "body" Nov 25, 2019 at 11:38

3 Answers 3


Interesting intrigue.

When YOU write about the 2 characters, you should willingly mislead the reader by calling them John and Mike

But be careful when the story characters talk to them, avoid to call them directly by their name, if both of them keep the secret.

I presume that both of them will "play the game", in order not to have problems in their new environment. In that case you can willingly make them act as if nothing was special.

You could show some hesitations sometimes, or some puzzled reactions from the other characters, bringing some tension, without pointing directly at the body-swapped character, to maintain cohesiveness while still not giving direct hints that something special happened.

When the truth will be revealed, readers will be able to rewind all the small hints troughout the story and be more surprised ! Everything was in front of their eyes since the start, but they could not guess it.

Good writing !


You should refer to the character based on your POV character, who would be the eyes and ears of the audience. If this is third person, John and Mike would be known through their relationship with a POV character (David). If your narrator is first person either as a character in a scene or reporting the details, this will follow the character's natural storytelling skills, so the character will likely refer to John as John until it's time to call him Mike. If you are working in the Third Person, then your narrator voice is either limited-omniscient (usually will be aware of one character's thoughts and senses and can relay those to your reader), omniscient (knows every detail of the story from the moment it begins. May break the fourth wall and talk to the audience. Will have a first-person ability to with-hold the facts until the right moment to reveal) or Roving Camera (typically used in stage plays and filmed stories, where the audience is not privy to the inner thoughts of any characters and knows only that which occurs "on screen" or is said to have happened off screen. Will also follow a singular POV character through each scene but is not as impenitently aware as a semi- or fully omniscient narrator. It's like watching CCTV with sound. Could be used if you want the revelation that David picked up on a subtle clue that "John" was not John (Of course I believe you that you didn't kill Sue, you were with me when it happened... except you said 'I was with you when Sue was poisoned'... I never told you how Sue died, did I?).

Either way, you should refer to not!John as John until the audience learns that not!John is really Mike. After this point, the narrator should refer to not!John as Mike until John is back in his real body OR a First Person narrator or a character with Dialog with not!John refers to Mike in a way that acknowleges the situation's weirdness. A sarcastic character or narrator given agency and awareness of his status as Narrator and of the Audience may crack wise about Mike in John's body in so far as it fits his character.

Edit: Track down the Animorphs series if you can, which has a first person narrator (rotates between characters but usually is consistent within a book) and faced enemies who were mentally not the people associated with their physical bodies. Book six is especially a good read because the narrator actually becomes a victim of this, so his friends reactions to the reveal are told from his POV, rather then his own.


You could attempt a Fight Club esc. spin on it, by adding certain aspects/reactions/objects and actions throughout the story that can only then be understood omnisciently.

  • Hi, welcome to writing.se! Take the tour and visit the help center for more information. This is a good start but could be improved with a little more detail. Currently this answer is a little confusing for people who haven't seen Fight Club.
    – linksassin
    Nov 25, 2019 at 23:01

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