1. matt_kicking
    Offline

    matt_kicking Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    UK

    Character Name Change

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by matt_kicking, May 10, 2014.

    Has anyone ever thought long and hard about naming a character or characters to find something that fits, and then part way through the story you find something that just feels perfect?

    I've had it recently and it leaves you stuck with a bit of a dilemma. Either you go with the new name which, although it feels perfect, means going back and replacing the older name which feels like you're removing some of the character's personality. That, or you stick with the old name but with the nagging sense in your head that their name isn't quite right.

    Has anyone else had the problem, and if so do you find it difficult too or not as big a deal as I've found it?

    Was just looking for a bit of input to see if it's just me or if others do the same.
     
  2. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,728
    Likes Received:
    4,826
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I have a boy in my novel named Adam. I wrote the first draft of this novel back in the 1980s and put it on the back burner. Now I'm kind of slightly working on revising it (most of my writing these days is a series of short stories, but I glance at the novel every now and then). I've been thinking of this boy as Adam for nearly thirty years, but now the name is kind of pissing me off a bit, simply because it has a biblical resonance I do not intend. I keep wondering if readers might think I mean something, something symbolic, by calling him Adam. I do not. So I'm seriously considering changing his name to something entirely neutral, but after decades of having Adam in my brain, I might not be able to do that.

    Argh.

    I'm probably going to leave it as Adam and let people misinterpret it all they want.
     
  3. Inkwell1
    Offline

    Inkwell1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2014
    Messages:
    144
    Likes Received:
    10
    Yes! I have the exact same problem and it is SOOOO annoying. I usually take the new name and copy it, and paste it into the space where the old name was, and that is probably what you do too. But it always takes forever and even after there are more places I accidentally skimmed over with the old name in it and it is super frustrating.

    So, shortened, yes I have that problem and yes I hate that problem.
     
  4. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I know what you're going through! In my first ever book - my mc started as Tom a pretty nice, laid back and kinda ordinary guy. But I had just read Lolita and all those unusual names had me thinking Tom was rather boring. So I renamed him Dexter and suddenly he became very outspoken & befuddled. But it actually improved the story.

    In the same book I also had to fracture a character into two to accommodate my name problem. At the time I was working on it, I was inspired by Twin Peaks so I named the villain Leo ( after Leo in Twin Peaks ) however, he became a little like his namesake - vile temper, very low key, brooding and reclusive. Try as I might, I couldn't flex him into the main villain who was supposed to be charming, and manipulative. I created a new character Charlie and he replaced him as the true villain and Leo was bumped down to a disloyal cohort. Though he still had a pretty important role.

    Go with your instinct. I've had a female character whose name has fluctuated over the years and I can never pin it down. And with each change her personality changes. I'm tempted just to call her the girl in the rewrites and slip a final name in when it's all finished.
     
  5. sunsplash
    Offline

    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2012
    Messages:
    312
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    Between the Magic City & the Conch Republic
    Yes, I've changed my share of character names, too. Usually, if something's just not working I'll dub them with a first initial that feels right and go back later and find a different name with that letter...one started as Loren it but never clicked the way I wanted it, so I changed it to "L", ended up loving that so much I made her Elle at the end. Sometimes the name changes are completely different from the original: Maisie used to be Erin, Tamsyn was at one point a Charlotte, Theo was formerly Brooks, etc. There's also been a couple times where a (typical) nickname just took over and the formal became unnecessary, so I scrapped the proper one altogether because I never used it passed the introduction. I think it's a fairly common dilemma. :)
     
  6. Mckk
    Online

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,535
    You're not "taking some of their personality away" - what you're doing is giving them a name that fits their personality perfectly, and reflects that perfectly. You're not taking anything away - and if you are, then all you're doing is taking any misinterpretations away.

    It's really not such a big deal. Here, lemme show you how my names changed:

    • MC: Heinrich >> Josh >> Thomas >> Will
    • Villain turned co-MC: Shadow Rider >> Shadow Walker
    • Secondary villain: Pandora >> Luniah
    • Main love interest turned villain: Eleanor >> Arlia
    • Backstory character turned main villain: Soul Keepers >> Morvitus
    • Another backstory character turned main villain: Tilos >> Locvoo >> still trying to think of a better name...
    • Secondary minor character who's possibly now gonna be scrapped: Nolly >> Norlina
    • Minor character: Abner >> Silas
    • Minor backstory character who makes cameo: some long name I don't remember >> Gavin >> Nicolas
    • Various characters who've since been scrapped:
      • Mackahl >> Kai (Malachai)
      • Avani >> Ravenna
    Like, seriously, it happens more often than you'd think. It's no big deal. Just go with it. Always, always, ALWAYS go with your gut. Replacing a name is easy - just use the find and replace option in Word.
     
  7. Okon
    Offline

    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2013
    Messages:
    694
    Likes Received:
    389
    From all of your future readers, THANK YOU; the simplest names are the best.

    Put to extremes, flowery names full of apostrophes just don't do it for me: Na'a'kya'a Ju'li'un'keja of Trash'ororan'golak <--- no thankso_O
     
    T.Trian, Mckk and minstrel like this.
  8. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Hooray for find and 'replace all'. :agreed:
     
    obsidian_cicatrix, Mckk and Renee J like this.
  9. matt_kicking
    Offline

    matt_kicking Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    UK
    Thanks for the feedback guys, all helpful!

    To clarify, I'm not talking about the actual technical process of replacing the character name using a computer program, but the effect it has on the writer when you've pictured them and named them as Dave (for example) for so long, only near the end to think, actually Bob suits them better.

    Seems like I'm going through the same thing you've had before @peachalulu and @minstrel . It's a pain but I suppose deep down the best choice is usually obvious
     
  10. Nooshi
    Offline

    Nooshi Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    11
    Yes, this has happened to me so much. My MC was called Ara, then Novel, Emma, Agnes, Athalie, Agnes Athalie, Bram, Honey, Ro, Wolfgang, Donovan, Smythe and finally Badger, which is so perfect for her. Strangely, the other names (apart from Smythe) have all become other characters.
     
  11. T.Trian
    Offline

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,246
    Likes Received:
    1,449
    Location:
    Mushroom Land
    We do this sometimes with @KaTrian, but it's usually not a problem. On occasion, a name just pops up that fits a character better, so we change it.

    It gets annoying when there's already a fitting, established name, but then after writing the story, we realize the name is too similar to another character, maybe from another story of ours. We usually notice this when we're discussing the story, trading ideas, and we mix up the names. To change, or not to change, that is the question...
     
  12. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    Yeah, drives me nuts that we now have Lise and Trise. They might not look too much the same, but damn do they get mixed up when we're talking about the stories.

    It's likely Trise will have to go, but I haven't come up with a better alternative yet.
     
  13. T.Trian
    Offline

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,246
    Likes Received:
    1,449
    Location:
    Mushroom Land
    Those were the ones I was thinking about. It's strange that the mix-up usually only happens with Trise, us calling her Lise instead of the other way around.
    For the non-Scandinavians out there: Lise is a Swedish name, pronounced li:sse, whereas Trise is a name Kat came up with (if my memory serves me right), pronounced tri:sse. Google Translate comes pretty close to the proper pronunciations when you choose Swedish as its language: Lise vs. Trise, except in the latter, the 'r' has a stronger alveoral trill and lacks the usual, singsong Swedish lilt. Too close? I'm still undecided since at least the characters are in different stories.
     
  14. plothog
    Offline

    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    514
    Location:
    England
    The main problem I've had with changing a name is forgetting I've done it.
    I changed Jakud to Akud, because another character had the Ja start. But I kept accidently typing Jakud. That still seemed to be the character's name in my head for a while. I got over it eventually, but it was annoying to start with.
     
  15. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    I'm biased, of course, but since they're in different stories, I doubt it'd bother the potential reader, so the only people (person) who're bothered are us (me). :p
     
  16. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,827
    Likes Received:
    7,353
    Location:
    Scotland
    Whew. I was about to have a heart attack...:eek:
     
    T.Trian and KaTrian like this.
  17. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    If we had stuck to the traditional nickname for Amélie, we would've had Mél and Mel in the same story, so how about that for heart-attacky? :D
     
    Okon, jannert and T.Trian like this.

Share This Page