Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What's In A Name?

I’m beginning to think Maureen and I are somehow related. As the months roll on and I read her posts, it’s obvious to me that we could quite possibly claim birthrights to the same pod. I mean for starters we have the same agent AND the same editor. What are the odds of that? Something tells me those ladies must see similarities in Maureen and I, as well.

As for this week, it seems we have the same approach when naming our characters. I’ll just start with any old name (with the full intent of changing it) so as not to hold up my progress. In my current novel, Whistlin’ Dixie In A Nor’easter, handyman Jeb had an earlier name - handyman Ray. By the end of my first draft I was so used to calling him Ray, it almost stuck. But I was never really sold on Ray and even though he had taken on that name for a large part of the book, I still wasn’t sure it was the best I could come up with. When his character was fully developed, I actually searched the phone book for better suggestions. I needed a Vermonter surname and ultimately settled on Jeb Duggar. Now, I can’t imagine him having any other name.

My heroine, Leelee, has two daughters in the book. The Christening of those little girls turned out to be a personal sojourn into a part of life I seemed to have missed. As the mother of sons, and no daughters, I chose Leelee’s daughter’s names as I would have my own, had I ever been given the chance. Sarah, because I love it and Isabella, after my great-grandmother.

Finally, my antagonist needed a name that, upon seeing it in print, would create an immediate visual for a reader. She’s nearly six-foot tall, mean, bossy and 100% German. Her unpolished fingernails are yellow from the thousands of cigarettes she holds between her fingers each year. She’s the owner of the Vermont Haus Inn, Leelee’s future home in Vermont. Somehow Helga Schloygin seemed a pretty good fit.

Naming characters is actually the fun part for me. Spitting out a first draft . . . now that’s something I could attach another kind of moniker to altogether. How about . . . Pulling Out Hair!


Maureen Lipinski said...

Ha ha! Yes, there's a chance we were separated at birth. If so, could you please do me a favor and pretty please finish my revisions on Book #2 for me? Oh, and Book #3.

I promise, you can name the characters whatever you'd like.

Jillian Cantor said...

Great post! And I LOVE the name Helga Schloygin for your antagonist. You didn't even have to say she was 6 feet tall and bossy, because I totally got that from the name alone!!

Lesley Livingston said...

Yeah - I'm totally with Jillian on this one! I read Helga Schloygin and got an instant - perfect - visual!