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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No Arizona

I've talked before about how my characters choose their own names and how I get no say in the matter. I can change their surnames if I need to--they don't seem to be as dead set on those--but first names? No way.

I used to complain about this until I had one heroine who did let me pick her name. It was miserable. I spent weeks and weeks looking at all my name books and at a bazillion online naming sites. After that experience, I conceded. Life is easier if I let them tell me who they are.

And yet I still had this conversation with a heroine of mine recently. Maybe I haven't quite learned my lesson.

Me: You can't go with Arizona. I have another heroine named Phoenix and her story is written. We have to change your name. How about Ariel? It's close to Arizona.

Heroine: I'm not a Disney princess.

Me: That can be part of your internal conflict. Your parents wanted a Disney princess and they got a scientist instead.
Heroine: (silence)
I take her silence as agreement. I envision how this conflict between who she is and who her parents want her to be influences her life and her choices. I start to make notes, but I can't write Ariel. Every time I write her name it comes out as Arizona.

At first I think it's me, not able to mentally make the change yet. Then I see her expression. My name is Arizona, she says.

I sigh and surrender. Arizona it is.