Sunday, June 17, 2012

Character Names

Choosing characters' names can be a little like naming your baby.  It should be easier because your baby is an unknown in terms of personality and appearance whereas an author has at least a preliminary idea as to their character.    Sometimes it can be amusing to give an obnoxious character the name of the boy who humiliated you in high school.   Some thought is given to the age of the character.  I don't think too many baby girls these days are given the name 'Edna', the older principal in When Bees Die.  (I apologize in advance if that has been done by someone recently!  We all know that names go in and out of style.)

Jaswinder and her best friend, Manisha (in Operatory of Death and Death at Table 15)   are both part of the large East Indian community that lives in Surrey, Canada, and their names are reasonably common.  Characters names need to sound distinctive so Dick and Rick would tend to be confusing.   Even Marcia and Maureen could give some readers pause.

I chose the name 'Adele' initially for the character now called 'Faye' in When Bees Die.   Then I realized that a British singer had shot to stardom with the same name.   I don't want readers to have a mental picture of this singer (who looks nothing like I envision the character) every time her name comes up.   So I had to go back in my draft and change the name for several chapters.  If you use a family or friend's name, it's probably best to ask them first!


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