Adventures in Naming Characters

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One of my favorite parts of writing is choosing my character’s names. I love creating characters with strong, distinct personalities who are memorable.  I love the names I chose for my characters in The Legend of the Light Keeper, but I will admit, those choices taught me a thing or two. You’d think choosing names would be easy, but here are some of my stumbles that prove otherwise.

Spell Check: My first issue was spell check. I had chosen the names  Lily, Hunter, and Talon that would NOT pick up on spell check since lily, hunter, and talon are nouns and perfectly acceptable not capitalized. I had to keep a close eye on those words, especially Hunter and Lily, since I’m not an ambi-shifter, and can’t shift using my left hand. (Oh the shame! I’m the Zoolander of typing.)  What I finally did was use my Find feature in Word to go through and double check and make the corrections. In the end, I’m glad I kept the names I did, because after writing four more books using those character names, they’ve kind of grown on me. I couldn’t imagine them named anything else, but choosing differently from the start would have saved me a ton of trouble.

Keeping it simple: I’ve learned choosing common spellings is best. Throwing in a ton of extra letters, changing the common Y to EE, or adding in a strange Z and a silent G, H, or X is only going to create more work for me and my reader. I’ve read so many books that had some really memorable names that were spelled ten kinds of crazy, and I didn’t want to do that to anyone. Besides, I tried that once and then found myself going back to see how I spelled the name, because it was so strange that even I couldn’t remember how to spell it. And you’d think a simple name like Cate would be easy enough, but no, I even had to add Cate to my dictionary to avoid all of those annoying red squiggles. I loathe red squiggles.

Avoiding confusion:  Another thing I did with The Legend of the Light Keeper, that didn’t survive past the editing process, was name Lily’s grandmother Grammy. That alone would have been great, but with Owen and Hunter’s grandmother being named Granny, it kind of made for confusion, not only for me, but for my readers. So in the end I changed Grammy to Gram. I learned to make sure that my readers can distinguish who I’m talking about with ease.  Having to pause to figure it out only slows a reader down.

So you see, even the simplest things like choosing a character’s name is not so simple. Writing is a fun adventure just like reading, so if you’re a writer or aspiring, I hope this helps to make things smoother, if not for you, then for your readers. There is a method to the madness. Happy reading! Oh, and…Happy writing! 😉

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