Thursday, November 15, 2007

"I've given a name to my pain."

Patti Abbott was pondering character names yesterday, and I commented:

Character names usually come to me. Occasionally, I'll use a name that has stuck in my mind for whatever reason. ...I'm wary of loaded names ala Marlowe and Spenser. I don't want the baggage.

One of the longest times I've spent on a name was for the protag of "Home". In the earliest draft, his name was "Jack Charles," but by the time "Home" was published, I had published several stories with a protag named "C.J. Stone," and the initials were just too coincidental to last.

It was a while after I came up with his new name, "Tom Gregory," that I realized those were the names of a friend's brother and cousin.

In the case of C.J. I suppose I'm cheating a bit. One of his names was mentioned in the first story, but I may just make that a guess. Stone is a mercenary pilot and the nickname "Siege" seemed to go with that.

...I think characters grow into their names to an extent. Ian Fleming chose the name "James Bond" because he wanted a plain-sounding name. I doubt it strikes anyone as plain anymore...


pattinase (abbott) said...

Sometimes even years later, I know the name was wrong. Is it a truisn that every fictional character has a right name if only the writer can find it?

Gerald So said...

As I see it, multiple names can fit a character. If I hadn't published the C.J. Stone stories first, Tom Gregory's name may very well have stayed Jack Charles, and I would've thought of another name for C.J.

I do think a character's name affects him or her, if only because I don't picture someone named Lisa the same as I do someone named Sasha.

One of the cops from "Confession of a Spenser Fan" was originally named "Thad Cavett." At the last minute, I didn't like the repeated "a" sound, so I changed his name to Ben.