Sunday, February 28, 2010

Joanie loves Billy Bob?

Today I dumped my heroine. She deserved it. She had the wrong name.

Daria. I love the name. It has a connection to the stars and was originally chosen to clash with the heroine's sister's name, Jewel. That was when the story was about the sisters, among other things. Long story short, I am rethinking how complicated books need to be and so have untangled that book and come away with two stories. This book proposal is for the story of the romance so Daria had to go. Maybe Jewel too. We'll see.

Oddly enough, the hero was once one name then a new name when I took the stories apart, now he's back, though with a new last name. That is major because his old last name said something about him that will no longer be true in this book - his ethnic background. The subtle shift of this story meant I needed to shift his appearance, because there isn't space or need to deal with ethnic differences in the romance. But by bringing back his first name I am happy to embrace the idea that under the skin, he's the same good guy.

The heroine's daughter gets to keep her first name. It was and always has been right no matter what the story. To me, that's the magic of getting a character spot on - you can take them anywhere. You may tell a different story or reveal something new about them, but the heart of who they are remains -- and that is first and best expressed with a name.

It may take time. It may mean living with the character's name a while before you realize that's the problem. But get it right. It matters.

I know. Today while was noodling this book over, I scribbled the names down on a piece of paper and immediately sighed. Yes, that's it. That's THEM. Let the story begin.

Any writers out there reading - care to share the perfect name of a character you created? I'd love to hear them.