Monday, October 19, 2009

Alice and Tom are Stuck in my House!

My seven year old has been naming everything new in her life, Alice. You may recall the turtle we found in Rappahannock County and then released in the woods behind our house? She (or he as I have no idea how to tell a turtle's gender) was when the "Alice" syndrome started. That was this summer.

My four year old is following suit as he usually does but I don't think he is intending to copy his sister this time. Every new "friend", be it a stuffed animal or a rock, is named Tom. Sometimes Tommy.

I can't keep all these inanimate things straight there are so many Alices and Toms. But, it struck a cord recently. I too tend to choose the same names over and over. For my characters. Whenever I begin a new story, there is a bank of names I unknowingly go to. Favorite names for sure. My current MC has one of those names, Claire.

A week ago, while we ate dinner, it dawned on me that I'm stuck in a rut. Not that my bank of names are lame. They obviously are ones that I have liked for sometime. Some of them were actually on a shortlist in my mind for my kids. But, that's no reason to choose them for the characters in your book.

Recently, on reading the first few chapters of Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant the characters' names jumped out. What great names she dreams up!

So, I need to work on my character naming. My kids showed me this. They teach me quite a bit actually. I just hope I don't start naming my characters Alice and Tom!


  1. Names are fun. This weekend I watched my nephew run a cross-country race. At the awards ceremony I paid particular attention to everyone's name, thinking of course about future characters. Last year at a steel drum concert at a local high school I took the program home and put it in my name's file.

  2. I have a problem with the naming character thing too. My crit partners even pointed it out. Apparently, I tend to go for one syllable boy names. This is something I need to work on.

  3. Paul - good ideas!

    Susan - was it your blog that I read about a writer who doesn't name their characters until the end? If not, I don't know if that would be a good thing or not!

  4. I love naming my characters, but sometimes it's really hard! I know lots of people pick names that are meaningful etc... But for me the name just has to fit.

  5. For that reason I kept all of my baby name books. If you don't have one, you can get them cheap off of Ebay.

  6. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment, Jennifer. I've been lurking on yours for awhile now. I'm going to pay closer attention, because I am starting a fiction work when all my life I've written nonfiction.
    I so need help.