Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don't call me baby

In a previous post on name generators, I mentioned the troubles I endure while searching for that perfect name.
Well, for some odd reason, I've been thinking about names all this past week.

No, no. I'm not expecting a baby! I'm actually considering changing some of my characters' names. Many, many people (and some monsters) make Serving Time come to life, and their names range from common options (Martha, Katherine, Robert...) to stranger, more creative ones (Alete Freeborne, Eneld Cross, Koremdor...). However, I'm aware that some of my names need more oomph.

For example, there is a minor character who has a terrible, bland name: Arnold Johnson. I chose it on purpose actually, just to show what a boring sort of person he was. Over time, however, Arnold became more important in my novel, he forged a much better personality for himself, and he even earned the right to a short story explaining how a demon managed to--no, no! I promised myself no spoilers!

I concluded that Arnold didn't deserve to be so bland. He didn't deserve to be Arnold--or Johnson. And anyway, his name was already too similar to anoher one, belonging to a main character: Eneld.
Over the weekend, I chose a new name for Arnold, a constellation which hints at his role in the novel: Argo. I'm all right with Argo, now I just need a new last name. Jot it down on my to-do list!

This isn't the only name I would like to change. My demonologist Robert (who you can see in action here and here) has a rather... uncomfortable last name: Harwood. I immediately see "hard wood" whenever I read it. I guess I'm just that kind of person...

I still haven't come up with a better last name for him, but I'll find something soon. To-do list!

All these name changes made me think... There are several names I love--name I wouldn't change. But were they always that way? What were my characters' names prior to the completed manuscript?

Let's have a look!

Tristan, one of the main characters, was always Tristan. No big story here, sorry! His first appearance was in a short story I wrote when I was about 12 or 13 (I'm 28 now so you can do the math). He appeared as a space bum, travelling from one derelict ship to another with his brother, Seth.

In Serving Time, Tristan's brother isn't called Seth anymore; someone else has inherited that name. The character who used to be Seth is now called Eneld. Can you guess where I got that?

From a Spanish cooking show! I had been thinking about a name change for a few days, and one day at lunch I was watching Eva ArguiƱano teach someone how to cook. She mentioned "eneldo", dill, and I liked it.

So who inherited the name Seth? Well, a quirky engineer living on the Jovian colony Ringwall, that's who! Seth is the owner of the Robot Rehab, the one person who can make all your robotic fantasies come true.

But what about the antagonists? Have their names changed too?

Of course!

Verin, the main antagonist who makes Tristan and Eneld's flight to Earth a living nightmare, used to be Quagga. Don't ask me where I got that! Yes, I know it's an animal! Remember I was around 13 when I came up with the main characters, so don't judge my ridiculousness. "Quagga" was always a working name, a placeholder really. Then I did my research and came across the name Verin. Perfect.

Koremdor, the seven-foot-tall cyborg StarCorp goon, used to be Tymothy. I got that name from a person I once met who must have made quite an impression on me...

The name change for Tymothy came about when someone on Critique Circle pointed out that a cyborg goon from the future should have a more unique name. New name, no problem! And you have to agree that "Korem" packs a better punch than "Tym"!

These are just some of the changes I've made over this last year. Names are my bane--heck, I even changed the name of the novel from Making Time to Serving Time!

What about you? How have your characters' names changed over time?


  1. LOL, I agree, Tymothy doesn't sound that imposing. I liked Verin, it reminded me of "vermin." Tristan of course reminds me of the Arthurian Knight, though your character doesn't!

    I am running into renaming issues, too. The hardest one are my Asian characters-- when I named them, I had Chinese symbols in mind, not phonetic pronunciations. My female lead name Jingjing sounds cute in Mandarin, but it's been pointed out to me that it sounds ridiculous in English. An Australian reader said that combined with her last name, Wang (meaning "King" since she IS a princess!), Jingjing Wang sounded rather unwholesome (if you thought "harwood" has connotations, well, I'll leave it to your imagination).

    So I am debating new names, too.

  2. LOL@Jingjing! Have you reached the part in "Serving Time" with Koremdor yet? He has a cat named "Mr. Jingaling"... so I understand why some people pointed out the name "Jingjing". "Wang" is ruined to me now! It's so common in Chinese, right? But in English it's become something totally different.

    If you want to look through Chinese names, you can check out my post on Cool Name Generators. There's a link to a site where you can choose names from different cultures.

    1. Oh Geez, Wang is one of the most common name in Chinese! If I do change the name, it will have to be one that sounds good in English. I am thinking Faye (Fei). Downside is that Faye Wang is a famous Chinese pop singer...

      I finished through chapter 10, I think, when Time has gotten back from her visit to the Triangulate Sisters refuge...

  3. Oh, okay! Then you'll meet Koremdor in Ch 12 I think. Hope you enjoy Ch 11! It's one of my favorites!

    Faye is a really nice name. If you want to keep the name but not have it clash with the singer, maybe you should consider changing the last name too.

    1. hmmm, I'm very detail-oriented (i.e, anal), even for stuff that never makes it into the story. That family name change could have repercussions into the back story!

  4. I'm picturing one little changing rippling through True Colors like Dominos.

    I didn't change any of my character names, though I did change a place name.

    I am only on chapter 1 of Serving Time, but I'm already worried about you using the last name CROSS because it makes me think of James Patterson and Alex Cross and Cross is a huge movie right now.


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