Sunday, August 22, 2010

What In A Name?

Development of Bon Secour Characters Names:

Role                              First Try               Interim Try             As of now

Protagonist                    Joe Ed                  Jed                        Jed Frazier
Antagonist                     Bob Lee               Bob Lee Rankin
Damsel in distress          Jennifer                 Ashley                    Lou Ann Frazier
Jed’s love interest          Jo Ann                 Michelle                  Emily Catlett
Jed’s mother                  Barb Mary           Mary Frazier
Deputy Sheriff               Michael Fike        Michael Parker
Damsel’s roommate       Becky McGahan  Chrystal McGahan
Mechanic                       Lester Roberson
Damsel’s co-worker      Jane Sanfeld         Dani Sanfeld
Damsel’s ex-boyfriend    Bill Marler           Wesley Marler
Deck Hand #1               J. T. O’Bryan
Deck Hand #2              Skip White
Damsel’s friend             Ashley                  Jennifer                Jacki Anderson
Bob Lee’s Father          John Rankin

One of the really interesting things about asking friends and family what they think of your story and its characters is how many more suggestions they have about character's names than ideas to improve your story.

I had a couple of specific ideas based on Southern naming styles that I wanted in my character names when I began:
1.  I wanted a double named male character = Bob Lee.  Bob Lee coming from Robert E. Lee.  Using the name of a Southern hero for the villain is just perverse humor on my part.  Rankin is a name from my family history.
2.  I wanted a double named female character = Lou Ann. 
3.  I wanted a male character who used initials = J.T.

I wanted to use but didn't:
1.  An adult female who goes by "Sissy" or an adult male who goes by "Bubbie" (not Bubba).  I have friends who are both and I just love it.
2.  A double named female where one name is masculine. e.g. Tommie Lou, Sally John, Bobbie Sue, etc.

My protagonist started out as Joe Ed.  I have a friend named Joe Ed and I have always liked his name.  Suzy said "You can't use your friend's name."  I had been abbreviating Joe Ed as 'JEd' in my outline so I decided to just change it to Jed, short for Jedadiah.  A little quaint, but hey I've got some Jedadiahs in my family tree.  Frazier is my favorite grandmother's maiden name.

The Damsel In Distress' name changed the most.  I started out with Jennifer based on the most popular baby names in the year she would have been born.  Then I didn't really like having Jed and Jennifer both starting with 'j' so I changed her name to Ashley.  Then, the critics said she needed to be Lou Ann.  I like double names so I said OK.

Jed's Love Interest started out as Jo Ann (my original double named female).  The name of a very Southern friend now deceased.  But, I ran aground of too many names starting with 'j'.  Then I picked Michelle.  I think this is a really pretty name and I knew a Michelle back in high school who I thought was pretty hot.  But, alas, Michelle turns out to be the name of a friend's soon to be ex.  It was pointed out that making my Michelle really sweet and nice was bad manners and might offend the friend.  Who knew you had to think of these things and be so politically correct when you named a character.  I obviously didn't.

Becky & Jane got their names changed when it was pointed out to me that those were "old" names and would not have made the top 100 baby names in the years they were born.  Oh, well!

Every Sunday morning they show the names of servicemen who were killed in Iraq and Afganistan on This Week.  This has been the source of my non-family last names.  But, no one liked Fike so it got changed to Parker.  Probably because I just finished reading a book by T. Jefferson Parker this weekend.

So everyone has a made up name except, Lester Roberson.  This is name of a real person, now deceased, whom I loved and respected.  I hope my character can come close to representing the goodness that his life exhibited.

So now Bon Secour character names are locked and loaded.  Or at least until another of my helpers shows me the error of my ways.  :)

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