What's in a name?

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 1:27 PM | 13 comments »

I started a new project recently. The first thing I did was name my characters. Good start, boy's name, girl's name and then I worked on the plot.

Once I had worked out the bare bones of the plot, a short of road map of which way to start, I got down to the business of writing the opening chapter. So far, so good.

This is a time-travel romance, interesting concept, but requires quite a bit of world building. The heroine is from 25th century earth, while the hero is from the very early 21st century. It is fun imagining how life will have changed. I'm zipping right along, this is going to be easy! I wrote more than 2000 words the first day, almost 1400 the second day. Wow, I'm on a roll. Nothing can stop me!

Wrong. The third day I wrote 279 painful, forced grudging words and today my total was 165.

OMG! What happened? How did I lose the momentum that had carried me along for the first two days? It was sabotage, plain and simple. My characters decided to leave me in the lurch. Why? The Italian Bespoke Men's Suit

It took me a while to figure out what was wrong. I pissed off my hero because I gave him the wrong name. He finally just stopped cooperating at all. Now, I am left to pick up the pieces and try to figure out the name that better suits him. He was upset about being kidnapped and zapped to the 25th century, but my calling him the wrong name was the last straw.

Going back and looking at my choice for the hero, I know he is right. I don't blame him. I'd be pissed too! Nope, it just doesn't fit him, not in the least. Now I'm looking for a name for a 21st century power player who knows what he wants and how to get it. A self-assured, self-made, sexy as sin Italian-American.

This isn't the first time I've made such a mistake. You'd think I'd learn. But at least I've learned to listen to the silence from my characters. If they ain't happy with their names, they ain't talking.

What about you? Do you have a process for naming your characters? Is it successful? Do you ever find yourself in a position where a character demands a name change?
Obviously my character doesn't like my choice for his name, so I'm on a quest for a new one. I'm open for suggestions, I've posted a picture of what I picture this character to look. Help me find his name. Suggestions?


  1. Mary Ricksen // June 2, 2012 at 3:59 PM  

    I think they will let you know when they are happy with their names and stories! Let them speak!

  2. Mary Marvella // June 2, 2012 at 5:18 PM  

    Mine tell me their names and refuse to let me change them. My characters have me trained. Scarlet's are working on it.

  3. Patrice // June 2, 2012 at 9:47 PM  

    Iusually find a name and stick with it, but sometimes, even years later, I think to myself, where did that name come from? It's not the way I envision the person now, but go with your gut. If you feel this super guy deserves a better name, then find him one. How about Rafe, oh, I don't know. It's too late for me to think now.

  4. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 3, 2012 at 1:23 AM  

    Mary R, I'm hoping I figure it out soon because right now the story is going no where. Will listen and let them tell me what their names are.

  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 3, 2012 at 1:24 AM  

    MM, you know they often argue with me about what I name them! Guess they know I'm not as stubborn as you are and will listen and change it for them.

  6. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 3, 2012 at 1:26 AM  

    Patrice, I wish I could just find a name and stick with it. It just doesn't happen that way for me. When they ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll ask to see if he likes that one. LOL

  7. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 3, 2012 at 2:29 AM  

    We have a name! Anthony, but he goes by Tony. I going to do a search and replace and see if the character will get to work! The name keeps popping into my thoughts, so I think it might be his name.

  8. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 3, 2012 at 2:30 AM  

    Anyone curious about the name he didn't like? Zane. I don't know where it came from, I can only say it was late at night and I was tired. Do you blame Tony for going on strike?

  9. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 3, 2012 at 2:45 AM  

    Ladies, I think I just discovered what pissed off the hero and made him go on strike! Not only did I give him the wrong name, but I did it twice. At the beginning of his first scene, I called him Andre. Then somewhere later on changed it to Zane. He didn't care for either names, but definitely took exception to Zane. He likes Tony, seems to fit him. Anthony, but his friends call him Tony. Mystery solved. Now I can get beck to work. Heroine says she doesn't object to her name, makes her sound like a bad-a**. Happy writing everyone. Hope my neurotic rant wasn't too much for the fuzzies Ladies!

  10. Mary Marvella // June 3, 2012 at 3:05 AM  

    Scarlet, I like the name Tony.

  11. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 3, 2012 at 4:19 AM  

    So does Tony, MM! He's beginning to get revved up for his story. Yes!

  12. Josie // June 3, 2012 at 8:36 AM  

    LOL! You're so right about our characters. Many seem to have a mind of their own.

  13. Mona Risk // June 4, 2012 at 7:51 AM  

    I've changed names in mid-story just because I decided it's not working. My heroines' names are important. Cheryl is Cherie for the French hero. Mary-Beth becomes Sweet-Mary for another. My Russian hero calls Cecile, Cecilya...

    In my current, WIP I recently changed my hero's name from Roy (for Roberto) into Dante. Yes my hero is a handsome Dante now and the story is flowing.

    But I have more trouble with titles.