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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Name Game, Part 1

Since I got the contract for Out of Orbit sooner than expected, my writing fingers are already starting to get itchy. I read the two books I wanted to read, and for whatever reason, video games are not calling to me right now, so I've already started outlining for my next WIP. I'll go into more detail at a later time, but due to the nature of this project, I want a really strong outline before I even get started.

One of the challenges for this WIP is there are going to be a lot of characters: eleven "on-screen" and a couple minor parts/people mentioned in passing. And characters need names. The name nerd in me enjoys most of this part, but as I said, it can be a challenge.

Somewhere in my archives here (before I started tagging posts, oops) I wrote about how I wanted the three significant women in Disintegration to have names that were very distinct from each other. Similarly, when I was getting ready to write The Fall of the Midnight Scorpion, I initially worried that Ro and Reggie were too similar for my leads. After all, we don't want to confuse any readers.*

I've ultimately come to the decision that having a variety of ending sounds for characters' names is more important than first letters or alliteration. (As indicated by me forging ahead with Ro and Reggie.) Having pored over tons of name lists to prepare for the twins' arrival last year, I can tell you that a LOT of female names end with -a. That doesn't mean that you can't have two characters with -a names in one story, but as the number of named characters grow, it's something to watch out for. 

When first planning this WIP, I had a Laura and a Clara before realizing how close they were. Laura's name was more tied to her character in my mind, so Clara changed (to Ruth, for the curious). On the other hand, I'm okay with having a Laura and a Veronica, as those are juuuuust different enough for my tastes. There's also a Mary and a Brittany, but to me, those are wildly different names that just evoke different feelings and images, if that makes any sense.

When looking over my file of ideas for blog posts, I saw a lot of name-related notes, so I've decided to make this the first in a series. If nothing else, it should get me blogging more regularly, right? ;) Stay tuned for the next part!

*Somewhat relevant, but not really: In Agatha Christie's A Murder is Announced (STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS), part of the big!reveal! hinges on two sisters having very similar nicknames - Leticia and Charlotte are Lettie and Lottie, respectively. There's a clue when another character calls one by the other one's name. When reading, I did notice it...but this was in the early days of the Kindle and I'd just thought it was a typographical error made when converting the book, and didn't realize the name mix-up was significant. Oops. So I didn't solve the mystery, but then again, I rarely do.

Except for The Girl on the Train, which is one of the books I just read. Figuring out the ending ahead of time kind of ruined the fun. But I'll award points for the three main female characters -- Rachel, Anna, and Megan -- having names with different final syllables. There, I've come full circle. :D


  1. I've run into the names ending in "a" problem, too! I'll be so happy and then look over them and realize that even I'm getting a little confused. I find a great job with the current project though! :P

    Good luck with the new story! ^_^

  2. Oh names, how they plague me! I've had character names change within a WiP a number of times. For the -a reason, because I want to use it in a different story, because it's too similar, etc. etc. I love reading/hearing about peoples' naming processes!