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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Playing the Name Game--Again

In the past week or so, I've seen two authors on Twitter talk about their trouble choosing names for their heroes and heroines that they haven't used before. Both times it made me stop short and go, Whoa! That's right. Some authors get to pick names.

I don't. At least not usually and I don't have a problem with this. I've had one character a few years ago who let me name her. The experience was awful. I spent weeks going through names, trying different ones out, eliminating one, trying again. After that experience, I stopped complaining about this. Oh, every now and then I still feel a small pang that I can't use some super cool name I've seen, but then I remember the Chaya incident and always tack on, But I'm okay with it. Just in case. I never want to go through that again.

Right now, as I work on my synopsis for one proposal, I'm in Pre-Book for another story. The heroine dragged her feet a little on her name, I got one that was semi-close (okay, it ended in the same letter as the name she finally claimed), and then got her real name. I probably should put real in quotation marks since she's not sure if it really is her name or a nickname. It's a long story. :-) Bottom line--I had her name in a week with very little effort on my part. I like this.

The hero, however, is proving to be much bigger trouble. For a while, we played around with H names. Finally, I got the right H, but it turns out it's his surname. Okay, I can deal with this and it doesn't really matter which name comes first, right?

His given name didn't come quickly. It starts with an R, he tells me. I run through baby name sites, I flip through baby name books, but he refused to claim any name that started with an R. I tried one that I thought might maybe work. Yes, I do know better, but I'd spent so much time and I just wanted a name. It didn't survive more than a couple of hours before I gave up.

With nothing coming, I started wondering if what I thought was his surname was really his first name. He seemed open to this. I found a new surname and told a writing buddy, this is my hero. It wasn't.

Last Friday, I think he finally gave me his name. At least this name has stuck for four days, so I'm hopeful. I'm not sure why the hesitation since it's a normal, common name. My theory is that it's because I'm working with a different hero and heroine who have my focus right now and this makes it harder for me to connect with other characters.

And despite all this time and effort on my part? Yeah, I'd still rather have the characters pick their own names. It really is easier.