Outtakes 150


By Cait Collins


One of the many things I love about my job is the opportunity to learn. I’ve picked up information that has helped me in my writing. Legal terms fascinate me. I mean who cannot be intrigued with a BLO, an APB John Doe warrants, No-Knock warrants, and UNSUBS. I recently added another term to my list, FNU LNU. Don’t laugh. It’s a real term. It means First Name Unknown, Last Name Unknown. It’s a very handy term for writers.

Have you ever had one of those characters that you just couldn’t name? No matter what you tried, the name just didn’t fit. And of course, the character wasn’t giving out any clues. You could have named him FNU LNU. This provides a good place holder, and when the person decides to reveal himself, a quick find/replace updates the manuscript.

We can take this a little further. I’ve seen writers obsess over the name of a town. They were so frustrated, they couldn’t continue with the story. Fret no more. Plug in CNU (City Name Unknown), TNU (Town/Township Name Unknown), or VNU (Village Name Unknown). Problem solved. Now write the story.

Of course we have CoNU (Country Name Unknown), ONU (Ocean Name Unknown), LNU (Lake Name Unknown), and the ever popular PNU (Parent Name Unknown). As you can see, overcoming the frustration of not knowing what to call a person, place or thing can be solved. Employing the FNU LNU technique frees writers to complete the story and deal with details in the editing process.

Okay, so this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there are opportunities to create your personal place holders and get on with the story. Never let the UNSUB, unknown subject, become a roadblock to your writing dream.

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