Finding the right name for a character can be almost as daunting as finding the right name for a new baby. Maybe more difficult. With both my children I had names picked out almost from the moment I learned I was expecting, and never had a change of heart the entire nine months of pregnancy. But I only had to come up with one first name and a middle name. The surname was a piece of cake. When writing a novel, one must come up with first and last names for multiple characters. That can be a challenge.
For Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort there were at least a dozen folks who needed names. My main character’s name, Paula Jean Arnett, came to me before I even began writing the book, but the others weren’t so easy, and most I changed multiple times before typing The End.
I’d given one male character what I thought was an innocuous name and then about halfway through writing the book I realized there was someone from my high school days with that name and I really didn’t like him at all. Thanks to “Find and Replace” my character soon had a much less offensive moniker.
The only problem with Find and Replace is that one must be certain that the name being replaced isn’t part of a larger word. I changed a character’s name from Carrie to Stacy in the romance I’m working on and then realized that any place I’d had something carried it was now being stacyd, as in Barton stacyd a six pack of beer to the car.
And why, one might ask, did I need to change a perfectly good name like Carrie? Because in Mayhem I’d named a major character Cassie and when working on the romance I kept calling Carrie “Cassie.“ Thanks to one of my beta readers (Ann) for catching that.
If you write fiction how do you come up with characters’ names? I tried using name generators, but the results never sounded right. There are so many possibilities out there, so why is it so difficult?