Saturday, September 8, 2012

What's in a Name? by Tinnean, Guest Author

Let’s talk about names.

You’d think as the author, I’d have the final say in what to call my characters. After all, they are mine, and it was my idea to begin with.

Well, think again. Back in ’03 I was writing a story where one of the characters, Red, was supposed to be sympathetic to the main character. Of course he disagreed, and the story came to a screeching halt. I’d open the file, read up to that point, and have to give up once again in defeat.

And then it occurred to me: Of course Red wouldn’t do this, but Jimmy could, and so another character, who suited the story very well, was created.

But originally? He wasn’t even supposed to be there!

Then there’s the problem of characters with similar names. What do you do when with them? In a novella that will be out in October, the main character is Emma, and her love interest is Elle. Too similar, with the possibility of confusion too great. I found another name I liked, but this one had a problem with pronunciation, and I wasn’t going to go there.  So I plugged “she” into Google Translate and found CailĂ­n. It’s pretty, isn’t it? And the name I’d toyed with? That should come in handy when I need to name another planet.

Sometimes you don’t have a choice, though. In To Love Through Space and Time, a character was named Hank and his son was Hal. Both are nicknames for Henry, and since Hal was a junior, it couldn’t be changed.

What do you do when you’ve got two characters with the same first name but are in two totally different stories? One will be out in December, while the other is still a WiP, but each character is saying, “That’s my name!” Do you hope no one notices? Do you hope the two aren’t confused? (Wait a second, in Always, Ben he was involved with a guy, but now in Come by Night he’s a dad?)  Or do you bite the bullet and make the change?

But it’s my name!

Back when I was a kid, we used to play games were we’d be Davy Crockett or Pat Garrett or Billy the Kid or any of the characters from the TV westerns we’d watch. (This was back in the 60s, and they were still wildly popular.) It was no big deal.  We knew we were really Tinn and Mike and Den.

But maybe it is a big deal.

So what’s in a name?

Shakespeare said that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Well, all I know is if I was a rose, I’d hate like hell being called a stinkweed.

You can find Tinnean's books at Dreamspinner Press:

And the newest release, Call Me Church, here:

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