Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Dragon Mode Hero

Sally's People are characters I invented for books, short stories and poems. Their creation spans the last three decades of the 20th Century and (so far) the first of the 21st.
It always comes as a surprise to me when I realise some of my characters, even major protagonists, don't have names. Sometimes this is because they are first-person narrators, and star in short books, so no one has the opportunity to address them by name. Sometimes it's because they go by nicknames, imposed by themselves, or by others. For example, the protagonist/narrator of "Call Me Fizz" gives herself that name in the course of her story. But what is her actual name? She says she's "Annie Average", but is that her name, or a description? Another character goes by three different names in the course of her story... She is Annabel Jackson, who prefers to think of herself as Annabel Falmouth (her maiden name) but who introduces herself as Anna Bell. Then there's Sam, from "Shakedown", who uses the ambiguity of this name to fool most of the people most of the time.

The Dragon Mode hero is an example of the first, less complex kind of unnamed protagonist. He is a lively, noisy small boy with a vivid imagination. He seems to have little use for proper names, as he refers to his brother, mother and the cat by role names. Only his teacher is dignified by her actual name, and at that he probably thinks her first name is "Ms". This pragmatic treatment of the real world contrasts with his rich inner existence in which he can slip into "dragon mode" and become his inner dragon. Our hero's dragon is brash, noisy, and clumsy, but ultimately out of place in the suburbs. Only in the sky can he express himself without troubling others. Far from being angry, the people in the street admire his dexterity in the air.

This lively youngster appears in "Dragon Mode" (ISBN 978-1-921042-57-7), published by New Frontier in 2007. He is wonderfully brought to life in illustrations by Chantal Stewart.


  1. Yes, Sally, I have unnamed protagonists and sometimes feel guilty about this. I find myself wondering if I'm being lazy, or mysterious, or whetehr the character simply hasn't yet told me their name.
    The MC in the story I'm brewing at present doesn't yet have a name, and when I discussed thsi with my kids they were full of suggetsions. they couldn't udnerstand why I wasn't looking for suggestions. I'm simply waiting for his name to come. And it will.

  2. Strangely enough, I had this happen for the first time the other day! It's an old first person story already published in the school mag, which I was preparing for another submission, and realised my protag has no name! I did feel a little guilty, but I'm sure he would have told me off earlier had he felt strongly enough about the issue...