Friday 19 November 2010

Naming Names

So I’m spending my Friday night looking at a map of Britain, trying to get inspiration for a character’s name. There are some good possible contenders for surnames:

Willoughby, Lovell, Foscott …

Digby? Angus Digby?

Oh, it’s really hard. I’ve virtually finished the book and the character’s name is currently Sam Richards, but it’s not right. He’s a seven-year-old boy, a little bit spoilt, but with a good, brave heart. The book is the first in a series so I want the name to be strong, but a little bit quirky.

Burton Coggles! Far too quirky! It could be a double barrelled name, but he’s not a posh character, so that wouldn’t really be right

Todd Finchley – could be good.

I liked the name Edward Poots, but Pete, my husband turned his nose up. He’s probably right. It’s a bit Dickensian. Single syllable surnames are good though – Jones, Smith, Black.

My favourite so far is Thomas Tripp, but it’s actually a pub, named after a local smuggler. Would it be cheeky to rip it off and steal the name, or would people say, “oh yeah, she ripped it off and stole the name”? 

I also like Nathan Jones, but that’s probably because it’s familiar to me – Pete (again) pointed out that it’s the name of a song and, thinking about it, I do vaguely remember the Bananarama version.

Why are names so hard to get right? I know that if I do get it right, his character will come alive. Novelist, Elmore Leonard, once said in an interview that he had a problem with one of his characters - he couldn’t write any dialogue for him. He kept getting writers block. Then, as soon as he changed his name, he couldn’t shut him up.

What about the name Dylan Jones? But he’s not from Wales, so it would be confusing. Readers would wonder why he had a Welsh name.

George Swift is another possible. Wilbur? Walter? Arghhhh.  I’ve been thinking about this name for months.

Any suggestions?