Monday, August 4, 2008

What's in a Name?

Memorable names can go a long way in helping to create memorable characters.

I know this because I've messed up with names more than once. My male protagonist once had an imminently forgettable name. Are you ready for this? Hold on tight . . . Robert Johnson. The only worse name I can think of would have been John Smith.

And to think I did that on purpose. Sheesh.

I wanted him to by Everyone's Man. I figured a common name would make him easier for readers to identify with. Maybe, but if we're just talking about his name? It would be in a very forgettable way.

Chalk up one more piece of learning when it dawned on me that it was okay to change the name of someone I'd created in the first place. Believe it or not, I had this little box in the back of my head that said it would be rude to move on without his permission. Oy. I finally got the okay when I learned that other writer's characters go through name changes on a regular basis.

When I changed his name, he finally started to differentiate himself from all the other characters. His new name? Chase Waters. (OT--I love that someone placed a little towel under these pups for cushioning.)

And for an even stronger name? My female protag went from Vicky to Bond. I love that name. She's now strong and smart and even though she struggles, I no longer want to shake her and tell her to get over it. Her name stands out in a crowd and rather than hate it like she did when she was in fifth grade, she loves it now.

There are baby name books and phone books and year books and online sources. When I'm stuck I just grab a pad and start scribbling until I find something I like.

Names are important. They're as much a part of the picture I'm painting as the plot and the setting.

Still reading Deadly Beautiful.

It's all better with friends.

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