Showing posts with label names. Show all posts
Showing posts with label names. Show all posts

Thursday, 19 May 2016

My Problem Character...

Sometimes I find getting into the mind of my characters easy, at other times it can be problematic.

In my second draft I have some gaps to fill, and Hannah is one of the problematic gaps.

She arrived in the last chapter of draft one as if she had always been around; she and my heroine know each other quite well, but looking back, nowhere in the first draft had there been any hint this young woman existed...

That was when I realised that she would actually fill a necessary role that was one of the gaps I had.

She has the confidante role. But she'll also be a means of passing information on where appropriate.

Seeing the light?
At the moment I'm still learning about her, and her way of speaking is starting to emerge more clearly than in her first few lines.

I know she's a year or two older than my heroine, and has had a little more experience of the world, so that will prove insightful later- there's a completely new scene in my mind (for much further on in the draft) where Hannah will be doing a little manipulation- for the best of reasons of course. :D

Unlike my other characters I don't yet have a bio for her. That's usually when I find out all those useful snippets of information lurking in the recesses of my mind.

Perhaps that will get through her protective shell.

Onward with the never-ending mystery of the supporting cast...

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Now to Get On With the Story...

I've been working on possible names since my last blog post, and being able to put variations into Google has been very helpful.

A rose by any other name...
If you haven't read my last post, it might help to explain my dilemma.

I had a list of first names that seemed to be possibles for the ex-girlfriend/model character in my contemporary romance.

All I can say is there are a lot of models out there and finding an original name is tough work. All the ones that I thought would be few, were quite the opposite.

Yesterday I was at the stage of reverting to Suzi/Suzy if I couldn't come up with anything else, but I persisted and found two possibles, but whether they would work would depend upon the right surname.

This was where the Behind the Name website proved useful. I was able to bring up an alphabetical surname list - my own is not on it!

Finally I had five potential surnames that would work with either first name- I'm not revealing which two until it's finished and ready for publishing. :-)

Over the last few days as I've searched for her name, I've also been concentrating on her role in the story and discovered more about her. I  now understand her motives- which is important.

Sadly I had to exclude some surnames because combined together with my possible first names,  I found there were models with those names!

It was using an alternate spelling of one of my Christian name choices that made all the difference, and it's always worth checking for spelling variations that might make the name slightly different from usual - there may just be fewer people using that variation.

And best of all, the final name choice does not clash with any of my other characters names.

So I can now get on with her bio and back into writing - I'm really looking forward to writing the upcoming scenes...

Image courtesy of Tim Seed &

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Giving Characters the Right Name...

As possible names for the new royal baby is getting press coverage at the moment, with the birth of a daughter to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I thought talking about suitable names for characters might be a good topic - and it's wonderful to have something other than the approaching general election to discuss.

Names 'come with baggage' even if we don't realise it. It's built into us as we grow, experience life and are exposed to the numerous influences around us; certain names can suggest certain things- when you may have been born, and even social background.

But it doesn't have to...

Ethel for example; it suggests an old lady, which was perhaps why the early writers of EastEnders called one of their fictional elderly characters by that name. But to someone else who grew up with the golden age of Hollywood films, the same name would suggest the gutsy singer and actress Ethel Merman, Two completely different examples of the same first name.

There are lots of name books available, and the Internet has numerous sites where you can find out the etymology of names, whether general or to specific cultures/countries. So if you need to find a name for a character you've decided was born in another country, you won't have such a struggle...

Have a look at the random name generator on the Behind the Name website. You can set options for country; there's even Myth to Fantasy via Ancient, Biblical and even Fairy, Goth or Transformer!

If you have a contemporary setting there's a lot more choice of names, even taking into account setting, location, and background of your characters.

Look on the ONS website for the list of popular baby names each year going back to 1996.

Names in an historical settings are different too, especially the further back you go. Name choices are reduced for the ordinary worker, compared to the variety used for those with land and money.

If you've ever done family history research you will often see the same names being used, in the 1600-1700's, William, John, and Thomas are extremely common- it wouldn't be unusual to find first cousins with the same first name (that must have been confusing at times).

By the Victorian period there was a much wider variety of first names- even unusual ones, probably reflecting the progress made with the industrial revolution and the wider movement of the population..

Genealogy websites can be useful if you want suitable surnames for a character located in a specific region or county. I did this for one of the main servants in my Dorset novel, and it just brought her to life, giving me a stronger mental image of her.

I've learnt to listen to my characters where names are concerned. If I choose a name that my characters think is wrong, whether their own, or someone else's, they'll deliberately start referring to them by the name they think is right.

A few even tell me straight out that what I've called them is wrong, and their name is...

To be able to write these characters' stories their names have to be right, because if they aren't, the words don't flow for me. So it's all in the depths of my brain.

So, how do you choose names for your characters? Are there any books or websites you'd recommend to others?

As Shakespeare wrote, what's in a name?

Image courtesy of Tim Seed/