One of the hardest things I’ve found as a writer is not writer’s block, although it has occurred. I don’t stress over sales, I have no control over that. It also doesn’t bother me to work with my editor. She bluntly lays out her comments; I say, yes, ma’am (97.9 percent of the time) and get the job done.
My problem is naming my characters. Characters are very important. Number one, not only does the reader have to relate to the name, he should remember it. That makes sense, right? If I name a character Bob Jones, that’s not particularly memorable or exciting. So I work, and I work hard to bring my characters to life and give them names I like, the reader likes and that people remember.
Names also are binding I’ve found. Since I struggle with character names, I’m always changing them. Critique partners have no patience with this. Last week her name was Sarah; what do you mean you’ve changed it to Imogene?
It’s enough to give a writer a complex. So, here’s the newest conundrum that hit me. When I come up with a name I like and think voila, I’ve got it. This name so fits this character, I Google it. And guess what? There’s somebody out there with that name.
Nothing brings me down faster than to worry I’m going to be contacted by an irate reader who says, why did you make me a killer? I’m a nice guy.
Here’s my latest fiasco. My protagonist is a Special Agent for the FBI. I wanted to name him Brian Di Pietro. I really like the ring of it. It says a lot about him. He’s of Italian heritage. Brian, in my opinion, is a strong character name. Brian means high and noble. What’s more, I’ve never used it in any of my published books for one of my protagonists.
Decision made, I Google Brian Di Pietro. He’s a hockey player! A very cute hockey player. There’s also one out there who’s a criminal lawyer. Do I really want to tangle with him? By now my character likes that name. He doesn’t get what my problem is. Since there’s several out there, he insists, “If anyone gives you flack, tell them I’m the one who likes mountain climbing. I’m also the one that carries a badge as well as a gun.” (He’s so smug.)
So my question for all of you is, am I alone? Am I the only one on this planet of authors who frets over character names ad nauseum? I suspect not. How often do we read a book where in the first part of the novel the protagonist’s name is Fred and 200 pages later he’s turned into Bill? Copy editor anyone?
Donnell Ann Bell grew up in New Mexico and today lives in Colorado. A homebody at heart, she concentrates on suspense that might happen in her neck of the woods – writing SUSPENSE TOO CLOSE TO HOME. She is the author of The Past Came Hunting, Deadly Recall and Betrayed, all of which have been e-book best sellers. Buried Agendas is her newest release. Along with veteran police officer Wally Lind, Donnell co-owns Crimescenewriters, a Yahoo group putting law enforcement experts together with writers. Like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or contact her via her website. You can also find her on Goodreads. If she’s not arguing with her characters, she’d love to hear from you.