24 October, 2011

A Rose by Any other Name

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
  By any other name would smell as sweet."

                                            Shakespeare

What's in a name? Everything, if you're naming your protogonist.  Or antagonist.  Or any other character in your book.

Maybe it's just me, right or wrong, good or bad, I associate certain character traits with names. It may be the result of a relative, schoolmate, or famous person, but I have mental images of characters even before they're described by the author.  Preconceptions, if you will. And, I'll admit, they're not always on the money.

According to various websites I've consulted, my given name -- which shall remain unspoken -- apparently means I have the desire for only the best that money can buy: good clothes and refined surroundings, all the finer things of life; that I always strive to create a good impression; I'm pleasant and diplomatic, and seem to sense how others feel. I have a good business sense, but tend to procrastinate and get involved with people who could interfere with carrying my endeavours to a proper close.

And if you believe that, have I got a bridge for you!

But seriously, how long did it take you to choose a name for your protagonist?  What influenced your choice.  And how many times did you change it before the final draft?

My protag's name is, and always has been, Kensing. Kensing Delaney. It's a family name, suitable for a male or female (in this case a female) and denotes her Irish heritage. She could have been Sheila, Maeve or Siobhan, but she has three older brothers and her parents expected another boy until the day she was born. Make sense? 

A name is going to influence the way your character thinks, acts, and, most importantly, is perceived by readers.  What it I'd named her Magdalena Rosario?  Different image, right?

Kensing has a side kick.  She started out as Amanda Cummings, morphed into Annabelle Smith, and currently reads as Abby Bjornsson.  Guess what color her hair is?

What about the "bad" guy?  Does his/her name matter?  Which sound more menacing: Mortimer or Hannibal?  Lionel or Gunner? Lily or Bertha?

As I struggle through the final revisions of my mystery, I find myself once again debating the merits of all the names, tweaking some, keeping others.


So, be honest. Did you change your protag's name?  Do you wish you had?