Friday, February 4, 2011

It's All in the Name, Part II

If you're a regular reader here at Publishing Lane, you'll remember a few months ago when I talked about naming characters, and how it plays a large part in shaping their personalities. I've since continued to struggle with this problem, and only recently managed to find my way out of the maze. How, you ask? Lists. Lots and lots of lists. Trial and error. Imagination.

SILENCE is in the midst of revisions, and a lot of things have changed. Most importantly, Neva's love interest. Since I started writing, he's undergone three name changes, both first and last:

1. August Eisenberg
2. Zion McGarvey
3. Graham Madigan

I'm still not sure where the hell McGarvey came from; I think I was using it as more of a placeholder than actually seriously considering it. Either way, these changes have caused mini uproars with each new name. The first draft was written entirely with August at the helm. He acted a very certain way, but as I re-outlined the story, I realized it didn't suit his name at all. So either I changed the name, or I changed his personality completely.

A massive rewrite didn't sound fun, so I chose to change his name. Zion fit more with the personality I'd created, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was still wrong. And it wasn't just the name. As I sunk my teeth into the second draft, I realized that Neva wouldn't want to be with the boy I'd created. She'd morphed slightly from draft to draft, and as I perfected her, I realized that she needed a better match.

So what did I do? I changed his name again. No only that, I went back to the drawing board and mapped out a slightly different personality. Graham's actions are more deliberate, but also more reminiscent of the way a teenager would act. He isn't so hardened, and I think it's really added to his and Neva's chemistry. So the Graham you see in the final draft won't really resemble the August who was there on day one. Am I sad to let him go? Not at all. Because Graham is the boy I (and Neva) had been trying to find all along. He's charming, kind, thoughtful, but also kind of an idiot. He doesn't always think, which eventually leads to some major complications. And that's why I like him. I like him because he isn't perfect. He's tall, and skinny, and kind of awkward looking. Lanky body, cherub face. So he's stuck feeling like an adult but not looking like one. I love him and I hope, when you get to see him, you will too.

This guy kind of resembles the mental image I have of Graham, so do with that what you will.

On the downside, I still don't have a name for my villain. Every time I reference him, it says "___ ___" in my manuscript. One of these days I'll get it!


  1. For my RH.Wri.Mo I don't have a name for Lore's love interest either!!!! I'm thinking about making it Dav....but I still don't know. It sounds a little too similar to another character that I read recently, although personalities and everything else are totally different.
    Depending on if I need something unusual or not, I either go to the Etymology of Names and just SCOUR for names. Or I write out the entire alphabet, and start putting letters together that I think might look good and sound good together. I also choose the letters so that they don't sound like past characters; so I'll try and not put 'vu' together more than a couple times for all of my characters.

  2. I fell into a good ol' standby of John Doe. Seriously. I have yet to refer to a last name for him....

  3. Oh, I do this--search and replace is my friend in the early writing stages, because I have to keep trying on names like they're dresses before a big party. I just keep swapping them out until one sticks...or there's a rewrite that negates the sticking power of a previous name lol.

  4. Villain names are the hardest things in the world to come up with. I was naming a villain when I was a lot younger, and my sister happened to take a look at my manuscript.

    Her response: You named your bad guy Art?
    My response to her: Back to the drawing board then?

    Good luck!