I admit it. I have a memory like a sieve. Stuff goes in one side of my head and immediately flies out of the other side, never to be seen again. Names and dates are especially adept at slipping through the cracks in my memory. Even the names of my characters. Especially the names of my characters.
I've written a lot of books and short stories. Unfortunately, with prolific writing sometimes comes the much-feared Deer-in-the-Headlights Syndrome, of which I often suffer.
Picture this: You're at a convention. You've just presented an eloquent presentation on some subject pertinent to writing, and opened the floor to questions. A reader stands up, clutching one of your books to her chest. Obviously, she's a fan. You smile and wait for her question.
"In Blah Blah in the Blah Blah, which character did you like best?"
You freeze, your smile still plastered on your face. Blah Blah in the Blah Blah? You dimly remember writing the book.You remember the cover. It was about a renaissance faire, wasn't it? No, wait...that was Blah Does Blah Blah. This one was about a jockey and a freakishly tall shoe salesman. No, that was Blah Meets Blah. Which one was it? The taxi driver and the Fuller Brush salesman? Yes, that's the one. What were their names again?
Damn it! You can't remember. You wrack what few brain cells are still working and not fighting to exit before your head implodes, but for the life of you, you can't recall the names of the characters. So you offer this wonderfully crafted response:
I hate when that happens, but it's sort of unavoidable. It's like a stressed-out mother who has a whole passel of children. When she wants to call the second to the youngest, she invariably ends up going through all of them first. "Mis-Fre-Bri-Pan-Jen-Larry!"
I need a cheat sheet. That's all there is to it, and isn't it sad that the author who wrote the damn book needs to shoot her cuffs in order to remember the characters' names?