Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why You Might Want to Come Up With Your Character Names Right Away. If You Like.

I have a habit of learning things the hard way. Even if someone tells me that something's a bad idea, I still have to try it out for myself. I guess I don't always believe advice applies to me until I fail on my own. So, you can take this advice, or you can, like me, find out for yourself.

Never give your characters placeholder names. I was having a horrible time coming up with names for my characters in Mysterious Other Novel and it was getting in the way of my writing progress, so I finally just gave them silly placeholder names. Now that I'm revising, I have three inappropriately named characters whose whole personalities have been built up around the silly names that they're not allowed to keep. This is giving me many headaches. I know, whatever names I settle on will never feel like their real names. I'll always think of them and see them by their stupid, stupid placeholder names. Darn me.

So, just don't do it. Turns out it's harder to change a character's name down the road than it is to come up with a good one in the first place. Learn from my mistakes. Or don't. If you dare.

Has this ever been a problem for you? How do you know when a character's name is the right one? Are there any you've been especially proud of?

7 comments:

  1. It happens when you are pregnant also... in your head you name that sweet little unknown baby a pet name and then when you have her in your arms it is hard not to think of her as... let just say... "Bibs"!! Definitely come up with better names!!

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  2. Oh you poor thing! Yeah I tend to name my characters straight from the word go. Thankfully their names have always come easily Only once or twice have I had to tweak them.

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  3. That's been a problem for me--if I'm really, desperately stuck and I want to write and not worry about names, I put in brackets for names and/or call them something like [C1].

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  4. I'm terrible at naming characters! It's always a struggle. But I have to do it, because I can't move on until their named. I actually changed a significant character's name after the book was finished. The original was too similar to the main character, so I asked for suggestions on my blog. Turns out that character was named Ruth all along!

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  5. I've definitely learned my lesson. Still trying to figure out how to rename them without losing the essence of the original placeholder names. Golden Eagle, that's a really smart idea. I might have to steal that for future manuscripts. Sarah, that happened to me in my first book. I started writing it before the popularity of Twilight and used Edward for one of the main characters. Then, Twilight became a huge thing and I had to change it. :/ Now he's Stephen and I've gradually accepted him as such.

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  6. I did the place holder name thing, and I spent most of my time trying to find a REAL name. So yeah, didn't work for me either. :)

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  7. Yup, totally know what you mean. The love interest in my book is named Morris, because at the time I couldn't think of anything else. It stuck. I would have liked to have given him a much sexier name. :)

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