Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Naming Characters

This morning I was brainstorming the name of the sheriff in my current manuscript. I'd called him "the sheriff" too many times. Obviously, naming this minor character (who somehow appeared in more scenes than I'd thought), was in line.

I wanted to find someone who was a reader and who I knew, well, at least kinda knew, in that strange new Internet way of knowing people to name him after.

John Bohnert was already taken, showing up as a detective in L.J. Seller's Jackson series . . . so who?

The sweet name who came to mind first, who has a Sweet Wife, I had to let go. The name Jack Quick sounded a whole lot more like the bad guy, in spite of the fact that I could imagine some terrific campaign slogans. Even though I won't be using him for the name of my sheriff, I'll file him somewhere for something far more nefarious. Something, I'm sure, Jack would like.

So the big news for the day (other than the fact that I wrote my Bound-To-Be-Changed ending) is that I've decided to name the sheriff after an Assistant Fire Marshall who gave me some terrific help to formulate my ending. I hope Jerry Coble doesn't mind crossing over to the dark side from fire to law enforcement. *wink*

CR: I just finished reading a most amazing story that should be available in September. Be looking for a very different novel from L.J. Sellers called The Arranger. It's a futuristic thriller that isn't so far in the future that we can pretend this kind of world won't happen while we're alive.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I love this name game! I save a bunch of interesting names in a file, first and last, as I run across them. But some times you need a good--or bad-- old common Jerry!
    I do think authors should pay more attention to naming multiple characters too similarly. I run across this a lot and I can't imagine it's intentional.

  2. A file is a terrific idea.

    Sometimes my characters' names just come to me, but if I'm struggling a little, I have a book called THE BABY NAME SURVEY BOOK by Lansky and Sinrod, which breaks down characteristics and common associations we have with names.

    As far as similar names go, it's hard to keep similar English names straight, let alone similar foreign names. I agree . . . I can't imagine it's intentional.

  3. I've used the names of people I know, and sometimes modified names or spelled them backwards.

    Names are a lot of fun.

  4. The names have to suit the characters, don't they? Once I get to know them better, the name just comes to me. That, or I flip through my dog-eared copy of 'What to Name Your Baby';-)

  5. This is the first manuscript I've used the names of real people, Mike. At least on purpose. I think it can be flattering, and for really big name authors, they've even been able to raise money in the past for charity by auctioning off a character to be named after a reader. It's been a few years since that's been done, but it might be an effective fund-raising tool again, given the right circumstances.

    Cinette, I'm the same way. Often, as I write a story, the characters will insist on being called something else. it really is distracting to type the name they want and have to hit the delete key to put in the name I've given them. Finally, I give up and give in. Characters know best.

  6. Hi, I'm John Bohnert and besides being in L.J. Sellers books I'm also a character in five other crime fiction books by five different authors. So, you see I'm not taken. Author Radine Trees Nehring is working on a book with me as a chef. It even includes some of my recipes.

  7. John, I'm so glad to hear you're still available! I will find just the right character to carry your fine name.


  8. Peg,

    I'm an all-purpose book character. You may use my name for any kind of character that fits in your book.

    Author Tim Hallinan in QUEEN OF PATPONG (2010) used me as a real nasty character and I loved it!

    Please just spell my name correctly. That's all I ask.

    So far, I've been an FBI agent, a mine owner, a movie director, a villian,a newspaper intern, and a police officer. I'm a chef in Radine's WIP.

    It's quite a thrill and honor to read a book and see my name.

    Please let me know the title and when the book with John Bohnert in it is published. Thanks.