Sunday, June 26, 2022

How do you choose your character’s names—Tricia McGill

Find all my books here on my BWL Author page

We writers get asked many questions. Main one being, “Where do you get your ideas from?” Next on the list is, “Don’t you run out of ideas?” Then there’s, “How do you choose the names?”

Of course, we do not have trouble answering these queries as after years of writing the main one comes easily. Our ideas come from our imaginations. We all have one of these, just some use it more than others. Since I was knee high to a grass hopper I have dreamt, and can honestly say still do most nights. Sometimes I awake with the dream still there vividly and at other times it is just a thought that drifts into my sleep and slips out again as swiftly and can barely be recalled next morning.

My latest book is another Australian historical. I love writing about Australia’s vivid past so it seemed practical to begin another. As far as naming my characters goes, I rarely have trouble finding names for my main characters. I already more or less know the characteristics of the person, their age, their personalities, so their names seem to come naturally. As this book is set in 1860 Australia, I can’t give them modern names although of course some names are still as popular now as they were back then. When I take a look through the current popular names for boys I see that Jack, William, Thomas and Henry are still going strong. As far as girls go, Charlotte, Amelia, Grace and Chloe are still popular and will probably always live on. My mother’s name was Annie, so that will always remain one of my favourites and is timeless.

My hero’s name this time is Walter (Walt) as it suits him to a tee, and my heroine is Faith of the title which is, ‘For The Love of Faith’. Good solid old Walt is always there for Faith who deserves his devotion. I seem to have more trouble finding names for my secondary characters as we do not want them to outshine our main people. Often I will name one of the secondary characters and out of the blue decide to change it. Thank heaven for good old ‘find and replace’.

I do have a lot of characters who play a very small part in my stories so to me their names are often just as important. I always keep a running character chart as it wouldn’t be a good idea to start calling somebody Charlie and then on the next page rename him George. My characters are very important to me so must be named carefully. 

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  1. The bit about changing the names of minor characters hit me. Find and replace is frequentlyused by me

  2. Names are so important, I agree, especially in historical novels. They have to represent the period as well as the character. As for changing names, the "find and replace" feature can sometimes play tricks on you. If the name is slightly misspelled one time, it will not be changed. Also, replacing words can have unexpected consequences. Recently in my WIP, I decided to change my heroine's type of spaceship from "transport" to "freighter" as it fits the story better. To my surprise, some words containing the same component got changed as well. So, a "strange mode of transportation" became a "strange mode of freighteration." Needless to say, I am double-checking the entire document.


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