By Reece Hirsch
How do I come up with character names? I must admit that I don’t have many cogent, coherent things to say about the process because, for me, it’s largely intuitive. Over the course of writing a book, I usually try on a number of names for my protagonist until one just seems to fit the character that’s on the page.
Sometimes I think a name is right for a character when I start a manuscript, but then the character morphs during the writing process. There are actually quite a few variables when picking a name. The first name has to sound good with the last name. And you can’t have too many character names in a book that are too similar because that can confuse the reader. You would think that naming the primary characters would be one of the more straightforward parts of writing a novel, but I always seem to struggle with it.
Since I don’t have a lot to say on this week's topic, and Bouchercon has just wrapped up in Cleveland, I’m going to cheat a bit by rerunning my post from last year on 9 things that you might overhear in the bar at Bouchercon (slightly updated). I wish I could have been there, and I want to congratulate Criminal Mind emeritus Michael Wiley on his Shamus Award win for A Bad Night’s Sleep!
1. “My agent says that because my last book didn’t sell, I’m going to have to publish my next book under another name. In fact, it was so bad that she says that my wife and kids are going to have to change their names, too.”
2. “At every panel at Bouchercon, there’s always that one guy in the front row who wants to explain to everyone during the Q&A about how self-published e-books have killed traditional publishing. I know it’s not always the same person, but it feels like it’s the same person.”
3. “Forget biorhythms. I never feel better than when my Amazon rating spikes.”
4. “My next book is a stand-alone, but it could also be the first book in a series. It’s a mystery, but it has thriller, paranormal and dystopian elements. It’s the Swiss army knife of books.”
5. “See, it’s kind of like Strangers on a Train. I’ll create sockpuppets for your book, and you create sockpuppets for mine. It’s the perfect crime.”
6. “I’m writing a YA noir. With the economy and the environment in the toilet, kids are going to need to understand earlier than ever that life is bleak and unjust.”
7. “My cover art looks like it was drawn in poo on the bottom of the monkey cage at the zoo. And not by a smart, Rise of the Planet of the Apes monkey. No, I'm talking about the other monkeys.”
8. “For my next book, I’m doing a virtual book tour. I’m going virtually nowhere.”
9. “After four or five stiff drinks in the bar at Bouchercon, this whole publishing business starts to make sense to me."