Saturday, August 15, 2009

By George!

I find it really hard to name my characters. Really, really hard. My problem is that I like to give them names that I, well, like. Even the mean characters. I just can’t bring myself to type a name that I hate. If I’m going to have to type it again and again and again, I’ve got to like it. And it’s got to be easy to type. This is why you will NEVER find a George in any story of mine. In fact, I can hardly believe I managed to type it right just time just then. George George George. Well, now I’m on a roll. Maybe I’ll have to rethink my anti-George policy after all.

I feel funny about using the names of people I know, but I still do it. The main character in my new novel shares her name with someone at work, but I’m just going to have to get over it because it’s the RIGHT name. Some names just are. And some just aren’t. I renamed a main character in The First Novel just before I sent off submissions to agents. His new name suits him perfectly, although I do slip up now and again and revert to the old one.

My first stop for potential names is my book shelf. A quick scan of the author names on the spine can be helpful, but I seem to have a lot of books by men called John. A good, solid name, but not the one for me. Next stop is baby-name websites. These nearly always do the trick. But man, there are a lot of weird names out there. Parents can be cruel.

So when you’ve got the right name, you just know. It sounds right when you say it, you can type it with reasonable accuracy, and it fits the character like a snug pair of Calvins. Now you can rest easy, can’t you? WRONG! You’ve got to come up with a a good surname too, dammit. And it has to go perfectly with the first name. Sigh.

Atticus Finch - best name EVER. Completely brilliant in every way. If anyone can better that, I'll be impressed.

1 comment:

  1. When I was an Eternal Intern, I took home a bound proof of a book at Amazing Publisher and no fewer than THREE characters changed names in the final chapter. I was shocked.