Why Not Name Your Main Character?

This isn’t a rant, but a serious question: why wouldn’t you name your main character within the first sentence or so?

So many stories (especially short-short stories) have only “he” or “she” as the main character; some will start with the pronoun and then give the name later. But a name is so powerful! Consider the difference between the following opening sentences:

“She sat on an outcropping of rock that jutted out of the mountain.”

“Martha Whittaker sat on an outcropping of rock that jutted out of the mountain.”

“Svetlana Dushovsky sat on an outcropping of rock that jutted out of the mountain.”

“AnunciaciĆ³n McGrew sat on an outcropping of rock that jutted out of the mountain.”

“Elise de Martin sat on an outcropping of rock that jutted out of the mountain.”

“Dr. Alexa Martin sat on an outcropping of rock that jutted out of the mountain.”

“Libby sat on an outcropping of rock that jutted out of the mountain.”

You get the idea. These women are, in order: an abtraction, English-sounding, Russian-sounding, racially mixed or an Hispanic woman married to an Irishman, French, educated, and casual or perhaps a woman (or girl) of the country. The abstraction is in many ways the least powerful, yet probably 80% of the stories I get have an abstraction as the main character — a bare pronoun, not a name.

Why do that? I’m serious that this isn’t a rant: if you have thoughts on the subject, please add your comments below.

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