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Friday, January 11, 2008

Throwaway Names

One of my least favorite things to do is name the minor characters. I'm not talking about secondary characters, I mean the ones that I don't think will make much of a ripple in the story or that I'll ever want to write about, but are on the stage long enough to be named and not just referred to as "the valet" or whatever. My two problems are 1) I want it to be a name that I'm unlikely to be using as a hero or heroine in the future. The near future at any rate. And 2) I've been bit before by thinking someone was a walk-through character only to have them tell me later that they had a story.

So yesterday I'm trying to come up with a name for a character I don't think will make a second appearance, but at this point, I can't be sure. I also don't want to repeat names that are close to any of the characters in my Light Warriors series. I had a great name for this character--until I realized how close it was to Anise (the villain in Midnight Hour) and I thought it might get confusing.

Sometimes it's not so bad. The inside joke in Eternal Nights is that it's my baseball book. :-) Many of the walk-through characters (mostly bad guys) all have the names of major league players. Hey, desperate measures, right? And I had the games on anyway for the playoffs.

The character name that bit me, though, was also from EN. I needed a throwaway name for Wyatt's chief warrant officer and I went with Cantore (hey, it was hurricane season when I was writing that part of the book). Only it turns out that Flare has a story. I haven't written it yet, and TBH, there are other stories calling louder right now, but if I do write it, I'm stuck with Cantore. At least I didn't give him a first name for him in that book.

I think I finally came up with something for the character in the Work In Progress (WIP), but what if she ends up being a bigger player than I thought? Do I really want to be stuck with this name that I don't like? And so the dilemma rages on.

I'm curious. How do you other writers handle the throwaway name thing? The football playoffs aren't going to help me with the first name for a woman. :-)