First of all, I’m so happy to be guest blogging today! And I’m thrilled to be one of the newest Mysteries & Margaritas members! Thanks so much, ladies, for inviting me. I’m such a fan. My topic today is names.
How do you come up with names for your characters? Do you use a baby name book? Telephone book? Do you skim through magazines, go through old year books,or shake up scrabble tiles(which I’ve personally never done, but now that I put it out there…that might be fun!).Me, I’ve never had a problem coming up with my characters first names. I like to hunt in the recesses of my brain for something different. It’s last names that always have me searching because they just have to be a good fit. And if I get really stuck, I resort to the address book on my cell phone. Yup, I do. I scroll down looking at each name and pairing it up with my hero/heroine name. I’ve also been known to try sorting my music list by artist and trying out their last names with my character. And in a real pinch, I’ve thought back to my favorite TV shows and the main characters names. There’s usually a winner or two in there somewhere.
And what about locations? Do you write using real places, or do you make them up? Sometimes I will use actual names of towns but put them in different states. I have that nagging fear if I write about a factual place, someone will find fault and try to prove that something I put there never existed. Have you ever used places you’ve been to on vacation? I wanted to write a Caribbean setting…but when we went on our cruise, I was so relaxed I couldn’t concentrate on research! Yes, I have memories of beautiful locations, but my heroine would have to be passing through because between the sun and fun and cocktails I don’t remember enough details to set the entire story there! So unless I ever decide to write a non-fiction book, I’m going to mix and match my cities and states like my darling Diva mixes and matches her hair bands.
One thing I did subconsciously when I wrote Extreme Love Makeover was use street names from my local town. When the Dreams & Desires Anthology came out, my mother read the story and pointed out the ‘familiar’ names I’d used (as only a mother can). Ever since then, I’ve noticed just how much I do it. I use department store names from my childhood or even from my current town. And for some reason I’m partial to using names of people on my husband’s side of the family. And every once in a while my characters take on characteristics of some of my bestest friends (although I’ll never tell them!). The funny thing is…it just happens. I’m not intentionally doing it, but I love the results!
I guess when they say “write what you know”, it means more than just topics and plots. As writer’s I believe we put into our stories so much of ourselves even in the subtlest of ways, right down to having a character treasure the recipe of great grandma’s molasses cookies. And who knows, the old girl might even have a starring role, reliving her youth as your next heroine!
And if we write it right…readers will love those places, those characters and those details too. What a tribute to the people we care about, and the places we loved to live in or visit. If we write with heart, how can we ever go wrong?
So tell me – how do YOU come up with the names of your memorable characters and settings? I’d love to know! I’m off to toss my scrabble tiles and see what name I can spell first but I'll be checking back to hear what you have to say! Happy Tuesday Everyone!!