Monday, June 16, 2014

What's In A Name?

I finally had opportunity to watch Saving Mr. Banks. Any author could identify with Mrs. Travers passionate plea to screenwriters and producers. “You don’t understand, Mary and the Bankses are like family.” That part of the movie really struck a chord with me. 
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 The male MC in my debut novel was named Adam West. Yep. Made everyone including my editor think of the man who played Batman. Zowie. Not gonna work. I never thought of that. It had to be changed. Our characters are like children. We can be very protective of them. I didn’t want anything to be a deal breaker since I’d just gotten my foot in the publishing door, so I picked another name. I felt like a murderer. I needed a masculine sounding, salt of the earth, regular kind of guy moniker. OK, hello Scott. It took me quite awhile to get used to it, but he finally grew into the character with that name. The takeaway of this lesson?
1.      Be careful naming characters. Not as problematic, but an interesting point arose in this same book. I always wanted to name a child of mine Bailey (my maiden name). That didn’t work out so I gave the name to my female MC. A regular question I receive from readers is “Was your Dad like Bailey’s dad?” Uh, no, my dad was a sweet man, not at all like the character in the book. This one has opened doors of discussion, but I hate for anyone to think I might have had a dead beat dad. Far from it. I found this article about how to choose a name:
2.      Decide what you really want the story to accomplish, and be willing to part with what doesn’t help that. I wanted folks, particularly women, to be encouraged to view themselves through the eyes of Christ, and not get their self worth from a negative past. That would come through no matter what the male MC’s name turned out to be. I’ve read of authors sometimes having to fight for things on principle. That wasn’t the case for me.

Have you made any mistakes naming characters?

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