Naming your characters can be tough, or it can be the easiest thing ever! It depends on the character…
Two of the main characters in my novel, Claire and Keagan, I had trouble naming. Originally, Claire was going to be named Olivia, but every time I wrote about ‘Olivia’ her personality just wasn’t the way I wanted it to be. That’s when I discovered that it was the name that was changing her, not really me.
I finally came to the conclusion that when you hear someone’s name it gives off an automatic feeling and a general gist of who they are. I’ve always noticed this. It may be because you have met someone with that name or a similar name and you think of the person as the same kind of person as the one you already know.
For example: when I think of the name ‘Justin’ I think of a young, lying, conniving snake of a person. Not all Justins are! But that is just my experience with the only two Justins I’ve ever met.
Or, the name just sounds like a certain kind of person to you. For example: The name Spencer makes me think of a tall, lanky, handsome, nice, but nerdy guy. I have never met a person named Spencer, but for some odd reason that’s what I think of. It’s weird what the mind does sometimes!
Sometimes these ‘gists’ are completely wrong… but it will still affect your perception of how someone with that name will be in your writing.
Back to my main character Claire. Claire is a 16 year old girl. Her good traits are that she is strong, protective, loyal and sweet, but she is also a little hard-headed and impulsive. I named her Olivia in the beginning, but changed her name to Claire, because Olivia made me think of a really sweet, but weak and naive girl and it was affecting my writing.
The name Claire made me think of sweet, but easily-manipulated girl; not exactly what my character was going to be, but it gave me a sense that I could work with it and still form her character into what I wanted, without loosing that initial feeling of what the name sounded like. I actually liked that it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, because I thought it might give my reader an unexpected turn about what they initially thought of Claire to be like just by hearing the name. Maybe I’m wrong about this theory, because I know everybody thinks of names different, but I’m still sticking to it.
I know my whole family hates the name Claire, because it reminds them of a homely, manipulative, phony-darling girl. But I’m hoping that once they read my novel it will change their minds and, hopefully, they will like the name by the end because they now think of my character instead of the manipulative, phony-darling girl they once thought of… maybe.
My other main character, Keagan, has a different story. When I started my novel, his name was Logan. Yes, Logan. No question about it. It’s perfect. It was as easy as that. I loved that name, but my mother, who knows a lot about my story, thought that he should have a different name. I disagreed, but changed it anyway. It went from Gunner to Sitka and a few others. I decided that it was not going to work. Logan is his name! It has to be!
And now it is not. It was actually only last week that I changed his name to Keagan and here is the final reason:
My family friend Skye’s ‘best friend’ was named Logan. A few weeks ago she brought him up to my house. I liked Logan at first, he seemed nice. Some things happened and we all found out that Logan was screwing Skye over and owed some money to her and ruined her chances of getting a new house. I suddenly didn’t like him anymore…
Now every time I sit down to write in my novel about ‘Logan’, I picture Skye’s friend’s face and think of what he did to her. It was affecting my writing so I searched and searched for a name that still gave off the same feeling that Logan gave to me at first. Keaton, Keaden, Keiden…
I know that some people would probably not recommend changing character names for the reasons I have, but this is my experience. Hope this could help someone.
Has anyone else had these problems?