Posts Tagged ‘names’

What’s In a Name?

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

I hate naming anything.

That hatred extends to titles, by the way. Part of that stems from my experience – editors are going to use the title they think is best no matter what I do, so why sweat it? I’m not complaining about that, by the way. In theory, an editor knows the line, knows the market, knows her readers. She knows what’ll move copy. My job’s the story. I’m happy to let someone else set up the packaging.

But part of my hatred of naming is that I’m terrible at it. I have a baby name book in my reference material stack, but it doesn’t help. For one thing, I don’t want to name characters (especially characters who want to be spanked right before a three way on a tarp sprayed with baby oil) after anyone I actually know. That rules out a ton of names.

Also, for the record, I’ve never written anything that involved a tarp sprayed with baby oil. But the spanking right before a three way gives me an idea… wow, I’m off topic.

Names. Right. So, no names from people I know. That rules out a ton of names.

Names can’t be similar, either. I had a story where I named one male Derek and another one Jared. After three paragraphs I changed one of them, because they were too aurally similar. But even after Jared became David, it still didn’t work. Too many Ds. Okay, Derek, and Fred.

Here’s what it sounds like inside my brain: “Argh, no, I dated a Fred, and he was a wimpy unshaven loser, and I need the character to be plausibly tempting. Can’t write tempting when I’m thinking of an unemployed deadbeat who never washed his hands after he peed. Ew. Who does that, anyway? Derek… and Nate! There’s a good name. Wonder where I got Nate? Oh, crap, that’s right, my cousin’s kid. I never see her, though, does that count as someone I know? Nah. Wonder what Nate means… “gift of God.” Huh. Would that make readers think that Nate is supposed to be the right man for Christie? Oh, jeez, Christie? I can’t give a gift of god to Christ. That’s just weird. Maybe I should change her name. How about Gwen? I like Gwen. GWEN! Oh, Gwen, that feels incredible. Yeah, like that, Gwen. Ooh, Gwen. No. I don’t think Derek could ever call out “GWEN” in the throes of passion.”

While the hamsters in my brain are running on their wheels, I accomplish no writing. This is why I name the characters after my dogs in the first draft. Otherwise I’d get nothing done.