Writing is more than running with the muse. The muse is a showoff and runs easily while I clumsily try to maintain pace. What trips me up is naming characters. It can be an arduous task. To be less confusing, I try not to use a name more than once. Yes, I have slipped up with having a Mike and a Michael in the series and will admit to giving Whitney and Ted the same surname of Martin (oops).
In my defense, I have over 530 characters in the Haunted Series alone. So when a new character - even one that has the reading time of less than a minute – appears, I’m stopped. My fingers cease to fly over the keys. Maybe I should have said pound the keys. I’m hardly graceful. Sorry, digression is also a problem.
I feel I must take a few things into account before bestowing a name. Where do they live? What is their nationality? How old are they? And does their name mean something?
Where do they live? If I’m dealing with someone from the Chicago area, I will look at what neighborhood they were raised in. Their nationality for the most part will influence their surname. But it also may determine whether they are a Mary, Marie, Margaret Mary, or Maria.
How old are they? I also look at the popularity of names for the generation they are in. This isn’t an exact science as family names are passed down, or their parents may have been hippies or are hipsters. Native Americans may have more than one name. Several ethnic groups may name their child one thing but later choose another name to help the child fit in.
Does their name mean something? For those who have read the books more than once, you may have found these little tells. I’m writing a character right now whose name is Kalaraja Gupta. To save you Googling it, it means Lord Death Protective. Is this an insight into the character? Yes. It also gives you the mindset of Kalaraja’s father at the time when he named him.
Nominative Determinism may also come into play. This is where your name seems to lead you towards your future. Did you ever wonder if it was just a coincidence that your woodshop teacher was named Mr. Wood or your sewing teacher Miss Hand? I haven’t used this much, but it interests me enough that I also consider Nominative Determinism when I’m looking at surnames.
Problems can arise when I realize I’ve used a name that I’ve used before. When I write, let’s say, Maurice, I picture a dapper man. And, oops, I have a Maurice. I can’t simply change his name to Chuck (apologies to any Chucks out there who are dapper men). I’ll have to use Clive and then get used to seeing Clive when I’ve spent a month writing Maurice. I know… author problems.