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Spelling names in a story

Switch Blayde

I'm writing a novel with a character named Caitlin who goes by Caty. The story is written in 1st-person. When the character is introduced to the 1st-person narrator as Caty he hears Katy so I originally wrote it with a K. But when I re-read the chapter it seemed like a typo so, even though he's the POV character and heard it with a K, I wrote it with a C. I ended up playing with the confusion, but was I correct in writing it correctly even though the POV character heard it differently?

Here's the section (with sentences left out for brevity):

He laughed. "Cat got your tongue? Or should I say Caty got your tongue."

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"Caty Brewster." He thrust a thumb in the direction of the girl...

...

"Hi." I looked up to see the girl putting her belongings down on the empty desk next to mine. "Miss Foster said I could sit here."

I looked at the teacher, but she was busy talking to another student.

"My name's Caitlin," the girl said when she was seated.

"I thought your name was Katy?"

"So you know my name? Wow!" She smiled and her eyes lit up. "My name's Caitlin, but everyone calls me Caty, with a 'C'."

"Oh, I thought- I'm Cory." I smiled and said, "With a 'K'."

"Really?"

"Nah, just kidding. It's with a 'C'."


I did spell it Katy in one place, but in all the other places I spelled it Caty. Does what I did make sense?

Capt Zapp

@Switch Blayde

I did spell it Katy in one place, but in all the other places I spelled it Caty. Does what I did make sense?


Since it is very difficult to distinguish a spoken hard 'C' from a 'K', I don't see a problem with the POV character using 'Katy' before she clarifies the spelling. Once he's made aware, he should use the 'C'.

Then again, he could have been calling her 'Katie', which is how I would have interpreted it if I had heard it. Or is is supposed to be pronounces 'Cat E'?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

I agree with Capt Zapp. Cory should use Katie, until corrected, though Catilin should always use Caty (you spell the correct word, not the pronunciation.

This is a sensible play on the name, since it points out the correct pronunciation without making it obvious (which misspelling it would). Using "Katie" further highlights the difficulty with her name.

If you're looking to have even more fun, have her meet another Caitlyn, who pronounces it differently, and have the three characters wrestle with the names, with the two Caitlyns (Caitlyn and Kaitlyn) sighing in frustration.

Switch Blayde

@Capt Zapp

and CW,

My question was about the previous mention of her name by the other boy. When he said "Caty got your tongue" and then when he said her name was Caty Brewster.

The POV character heard it as Katy, but I spelled it the way she does.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I don't know how it is where you are, but down here most people would pronounce Caty more like Cat-e (with the softer C like sound) while Katy would get a Kay-te (with the harder K like sound).

Mt sister's first name is Catherine, but she's always preferred to be called Cathi, that's how she spelled it, too, and it sounds like Cath-e.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The POV character heard it as Katy, but I spelled it the way she does.

That's what I meant. I think that's (spelling the words correctly) is the proper way to go, rather than spelling out the pronunciation. By stressing how the character says it, you don't have to play extravagant games with spellings. Cailin should use her actual name (however it's pronounced), but Cory should spell out the name he mistakenly thinks she said her name was.

Ernest, the most recent uses of the name Caitlyn/Kaitlyn are all over the map, with the spellings and pronunciations all over the map. That makes it a prime target for comedy sketches, but makes it difficult on the individuals.

Capt Zapp

@Switch Blayde

He laughed. "Cat got your tongue? Or should I say Caty got your tongue."

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"Caty Brewster." He thrust a thumb in the direction of the girl...


I didn't think the original speaker that referred to her as 'Caty' was the POV character. It could have been someone that knows she spells her name with a 'C'. Even with her telling Cory that it is "...Caty, with a 'C'", he would probably still not know it is spelled 'Caty'. Assuming the pronunciation is 'Kate E' it could be Catie, Catey, Caitee, Caitie, Caity, Caty, Caytee, Caytie, or a few other combinations. With her telling him her name is 'Caitlin', he (or at least I) would assume 'Caitie' or 'Caity'.

This reminds me of the first Christopher Reeve 'Superman' movie where Lois tries to spell 'Krypton' "That's C-R-I..." "Actually it's K-R-Y-PTON"

Replies:   Switch Blayde
docholladay

I ran across this in a story I am reading. It looked like a workable idea in this type situation:

quote:
The forewoman, who's name is Celes (prounced Celese)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

The forewoman, who's name is Celes (prounced Celese)

Except using brackets (curly or square) is generally frowned on in fiction, though it's almost required for non-fiction. You can easily get away with it, but expect select readers to call you on it.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

The main idea was the explanation between the spelling and the actual sound was explained simply. Not in the form of the punctuation. The idea is the simpler the explanation is the better. Sure it is possible to make it a long drawn out process, but will that really help a story line.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

I don't know how it is where you are, but down here most people would pronounce Caty more like Cat-e (with the softer C like sound) while Katy would get a Kay-te (with the harder K like sound).


Her name's Caitlin. The "a" in it is a long-a (I think that's what it's called -- like Kate). So it would make sense to have given her the nickname of Caty with the long-a.

If I had spelled Caitlin as Kaitlin I wouldn't have this problem. I almost changed it but like the little humor of "Cory with a K" so I kept it.

But my question is more general. This is simply one example.

I believe the way I did it is correct. I agree with my wife -- if I were to spell it Katy until Cory learned of the correct spelling it would seem to be a typo to the reader.

Switch Blayde

@Capt Zapp

I didn't think the original speaker that referred to her as 'Caty' was the POV character.


He isn't. But it's written in 1st-person so everything is from the 1st-person narrator's POV.

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