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My daughter fought me when I wanted to name our Japanese chin David. He became Amadeus, which better suited him. (My daughter on the other hand has yet to forgive me for putting a second L in Llara, although I suspect if she hated it all that much, she would have changed it with my blessing. She is lucky my ex, her father put his foot down when I wanted to name her Cloud--okay it was the sixties.)
Being a writer of 10 published novels, one due out in September and three unpublished, I get to name many, many people.
I am starting a new novel, my first novel since my Murder in...A Third Culture Kid series.
It will involve four women between their late twenties and late thirties. Working title is Day Care.
Because it is set in present time there is a need for names that work in time and place. You cannot have an eighty-year old Chinese woman named Madison without a lot of explanation.
I have begun my character cards where I jot relevant but minor details of all characters. That way someone does not shrink from being six foot two to five foot nine unless I give them a double leg amputation.
I have sources for appropriate names:
- The most popular name lists for (year)
- Phone books (especially if the setting is outside the US)
- Grave yards (especially if the setting is outside the US)
- Friends (first names only)
The short list for her three friends are Melissa, Victoria, Morgan, Vanessa, Nathalie, Caitlin. I need to decide more about their characters and family background before making a final selection.
They have daughters born in 2012. The French twins are Sophie and Lydia but I need three American names. I will resist Madison, Savannah and Brooklyn tempting though it maybe.
I remember when I was doing my creative writing degree at Glamorgan University in Wales, the profs talking about exotic names in romance novels as OTT. I remember thumbing thru one to discover the hero was named Cash Boudreau. The Boudreau I liked because it was my maiden name and the setting was New Orleans, but Cash????
Some short lists for the kids are Harper (my love of To Kill a Mockingbird) and I can make the mother a wantabe writer, Layla, Olivia, Rebecca, Sarah.
Once I have the main characters, I will add the auxilary characters as they appear.
The cards are a handy system for when six weeks after the introduction of a character I have to remember some detail. I need to keep consistency.
The cards are the only handwritten part of the novel. Other techniques I've used is to highlight some detail I may want to check in yellow followed by using FIND. Still the cards are easier.