Epithets: Fandom's Designated Hitters

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Title: Epithets: Fandom's Designated Hitters
Creator: Arduinna
Date(s): December 2004
Medium: online
Fandom: multi
Topic: fiction writing, fanon, epithets
External Links: online here, Archived version
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Epithets: Fandom's Designated Hitters is an essay by Arduinna.

It is part of a set of essays (Essays: Rants and Rambles) about fiction writing:


A name encompasses everything about a person. The more you learn about someone, the more their name represents for you. You don't need to use his first name sometimes, and his last name other times, to remind yourself who he is; you don't need to describe him (by his looks, his emotional state, or his occupation), either. All you need is the name you default to when you think of him.
Please. I beg you. In the name of everything anyone has ever held holy -- never use a job title in place of someone’s name in a consensual sex scene, unless the job title is “prostitute” (or a variant thereof), or your characters are role-playing for kicks.

Comparative epithets should also be avoided; do you really want people wondering exactly in what way “the bigger man” is bigger? (Or, worse, how “the smaller man” is smaller?) Descriptive epithets aren't much better. If your POV character is having sex with Blair and suddenly starts thinking of him as "the curly-haired man" and "the blue-eyed man" and so forth, it sounds like he's got amnesia and is just going with the flow because he's happy about the blow-job he's getting, whoever it is that happens to be giving it. Not very romantic.

Epithets are distancing to begin with, and if you pull back that far from the people who are having sex, the whole thing turns very clinical and sort of creepy.