Whenever I start a new project, one of the first things to consider are the characters. Not just the roles they will play as the story unfolds, but also, their names. In my younger years, I had a real flare for the dramatic here. I loved crazy and unusual names and could easily get carried away while naming everyone. And it didn’t stop there, because in addition to kooky and unique names I pretty much always insisted they had a wacky nickname to go with it ( I blame my mother. There is NO suitable nickname for Karina and alas, I had to live without one…) As a teenager who was writing for no other reason but to write, this didn’t bother me much, but as an adult who writes to entertain others, it’s a little different.
When I first set out to write something that was intended for the public, I was seriously concerned that my crazy naming habit would in some way take away from the story I was telling. So, in order to keep myself in some sort of realm resembling reality, I came up with a nifty little idea. I named every last character in the story after one of my best friend’s family members. It was perfect because my friend’s children had beautiful names, much like the ones I might have chosen, while her older relatives had lovely traditional names. Together they made for a wonderful combination of options for me to choose from in naming my characters. And best of all, I knew it had to be completely believable, since a group of people with those names actually existed.
As I continued writing, I made further use of this little formula. In one story I used the names of former co-workers, while another piece sounds like I ripped it right out of my high school yearbook. Which I did…the names anyway.
As I got more comfortable, I ventured out a bit from the original plan. In Lucky In Love, the three main male characters were actually inspired by relationships in my own life. I say relationships and not guys, because the guys themselves were quite fictional (and in reality there were more than three) but the men in my life, or more so the relationships I had with men, always seemed to fall into those three categories. So, when it came time to name them in the book, I wanted to include the essence of the three guys who had meant the most to me at the time, but there was NO WAY I intended to use their actual names. At first I thought about using their initials, but then I quickly decided to just mimic the names. You know, like a Lindsay, might be a Leslie or a Sam could be a Ben…I don’t know. It made sense in my head at the time….
Nowadays, I’ve got quite a few character naming challenges under my belt, so I worry less and just go for it more. However, I’m really glad I took the time to discipline myself in this department…nobody ever would have gotten to know my characters if I hadn’t, because they would have all gotten too caught up on the ridiculous (and let’s not forget MULTIPLE) names I would have stuck them with.