Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Character Development

What's in a name?

For me, everything. I spend hours finding just the right names for the characters in my novels. Until I find the perfect names, I can't even begin to outline the book. Same thing when it comes to a book title. I must have a title before I can begin writing the book! Crazy,  huh?

Oh, I have tried to push on without the names hammered down, but I don't get anywhere. I have even named a  hero, written two chapters, decided the name wasn't right, stopped in my tracks to rename the hero, and then I had to write the two chapters over again because the hero changed completely in my mind when he had a new name.

Names conjure up certain images in my imagination. It doesn't matter to me if my friends don't like the names. I have had my best writer friend say, "I hate that name. You must change the heroine's name. It's awful." But I shrugged and stuck to my guns. She had been christened and I was well pleased with her, name and all.

After I have the names, then I create a character profile for each one. Not just a physical description, but what makes the character tick. What is he/she frightened of? Where is the person most vulnerable? What happened in the past to shape this person? When this character looks in the mirror, what does he/she see?  I might write a whole page on the main characters and half a page on the supporting characters. I add to the profiles as I write the book. That helps me to not forget story threads and character details.

If an editor asked me to change a name, she or he would have to possess an airtight reason for it, and chances are, the editor would lose the battle. Years later, when I hear one of my hero's names or my heroine's names, I can immediately see them in my mind's eye and I can hear them in my writer's ear.

I have caved in and changed a book's title at the request of an editor/publisher. And I rue each title that was changed. A couple of them are my least favorite and, frankly, are senseless. They could be slapped on practically any romance book.

I am genuinely fond of the hero and heroine in each of my novels and even a few of the secondary characters. They are my creations, names and all.

It is the season of giving. Give yourself more time this month to daydream and to write -- and to think of some lovely names!