**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**
Sometimes a character’s name comes to you right away. Other times you have to research it, go through countless lists of names before you find the right one. No matter what works for you, at some point you will choose a name for your character and you’ll start writing. Sometimes, though, you may discover that the name you chose is no longer working, and you have to change it. This can be devastating, but if you feel it’s necessary, it may be the only choice to make.
There are plenty of reasons why a name won’t work for a particular character. If the names of all of your characters have too many similarities (same number of syllables, starting with the same letter), it may be smart to mix this up a bit (I’ll have a whole other post on this subject for the letter V). Maybe the name is too similar to someone you know or someone famous. Or maybe the name just doesn’t feel right. Every time you write it, it just feels off. It doesn’t fit the way you picture this particular character.
There’s also other people’s perspective on the name to consider. If you have one person read your work and they don’t like a name, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change it, unless they give you a good reason. If everyone you have read it hates the name, and their reasoning makes sense to you, then you probably should take it into consideration. Ultimately, though, the choice to kill a name is totally up to you. If you love a name and think it’s working, then stick with it.
WHAT I’VE DONE: I actually need to rename a character who is in my sequel ideas for Uneven Lines. The drummer in Jordan’s band so far has been named Joe, but I thought having two characters’ names start with the same two letters wasn’t going to work (and I certainly wasn’t going to rename Jordan!). I’ll probably pick another one syllable name, since the other two guys in the band also have two syllables in their names (Eric and Adam).
It can be difficult to change a character’s name when you’ve already grown accustomed to it. A secondary character may not cause you as much grief as a main one, but there is still a process to work through. You’ll have to consider everything about this character’s identity. Why wasn’t the name working? What sort of name will work? Will the new name go well with the other characters’ names? It may take a while to find that one perfect name, but it’s out there and you can find it.
It’s kind of like ripping off a Band-Aid. Once you know you have to change the name, try to figure out the replacement as soon as possible. You don’t want to dwell on the decision or you may second guess it. Also, be sure any mentions of the original name are replaced with the new one. Do a search in your documents to find and replace them. You don’t want your character’s old name haunting your story like a ghost!
Have you ever had to change a character’s name? Why did it need to change?