Naming a character is really important to me. Having just sent a book in, and being in that happy place before the rewrites come back to me, I’ve been giving some thought to the next book, which has been percolating for the last few weeks but having to be ignored whilst I finished the WIP.
I already have my heroine, because she’s the sister of Cleo, from All That Mullarkey, a character I like too much to leave her perpetually in a support role. She’s surprising me with some of her thoughts and history, but she’s recognisably Liza Reece. I’m enjoying getting to know her better.
I had conceived my hero as Marcus. But then it was pointed out that Marcus is quite like Martyn, hero of my WIP, Love & Freedom. I would hate a) a browser to put the book back because s/he thought s/he recognised the hero’s name so must have read it b) me to get the two heroes mixed up in my mind. At my son’s suggestion, Marcus has become Lucas, because it’s a similar shape on the page. But, having been rechristened, he has changed his image in my mind. Slightly irritating … And it means both hero and heroine have names beginning with the same letter. Argh! But he seems to want to be Lucas now, so I don’t think I’m going to change him again.
But he will not tell me his surname. I keep trying to guess but it hasn’t come to me, yet.
Surnames have tripped me up in the past, in most unexpected ways. For example, in Want to Know a Secret? I knew that my heroine was Diane Jenner and her husband was Gareth. I also knew that their daughter was Brenna, which I thought was the sort of pretty-and-unusual name that Diane would have chosen. I was half way through the book before I realised that I’d lumbered the poor kid with Brenna Jenner! So she had to become Bryony.
Something I pay attention to, and it always grates when others don’t, is giving siblings names that sound as if they have come from the same parent. If the elder is a plain and sturdy David would his parents have named his little brother Elvis? Or Dimitri? Or Ptolemy? Not in my imagination! James North, from Want to Know a Secret?, called his daughters Tamzin, Alice and Natalia. Not only did I feel the same two people (James and wife Valerie) would choose three names like that – but they were just right for a family with money. Of course, the girls insisted on calling one another Tamz, Ali and Nat, which spoiled the effect. But that’s kids for you.
Along with a lot of writers I know, I find naming characters just as important/frustrating as naming a baby. Last minute changes happen. Nicknames develop. Mistakes are made (aren’t they, Brenna Jenner?) But it’s always a lot of fun.