Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What's in a name?

Naming  characters is something little attention is given too.  Writers are seldom asked how they come up with names. Charles Dickens actually kept a notebook that he'd write down an interesting name if he came across it.  

Then there's me.  They just kind of pop up. I envision a character and start thinking about that character--does she drink too much? Is she cute?  Is she smart? And, voila, Sarah Meadows is now a character [Bonded Agent and misc short stories].  

The only character I've ever really gotten a backlash on is Paul.  People do not seem to like the fact that Miles O'Malley's horse is named Paul.  It bothers them. They do not think Paul is a suitable name for a horse.  They may be right. I've certainly gotten a lot of static about it.  But now that he's been in all these Miles O'Malley weird western books, I'm kind of stuck with him.  I can't get rid of Paul anymore than the Lone Ranger could send Silver off to the glue factory.  It just isn't done. And Paul will be in my new book, Fallen Angel.  Of course he is.  If Miles O'Malley is in the book, Paul is certain to show up. 

Mabel?  She kind of appeared in the first Miles O'Malley book, The Two Devils. I fell in love with her right out of the gate. She's been a real hoot, but this time it is Mabel who is the main character and Miles who has a tag along role. Miles isn't even present in the first third of the book.  I wanted a name that's authentic to the period [1800s]. but not too common these days.  My grandmother's favorite china head doll was named Mabel, so this one didn't entirely just pop in my head.

Then Kevin? Mabel's sister, in Fallen Angel, is Kevin. She's a girl, but Kevin is a boy's name? Well, I envisioned this blond girl angel and Kevin just popped up.  It seemed just right for her. This girl is just plain nuts. Now I'm not saying giving her a boy's name is why she's nuts, but it just kind of fits her. You don't want to mess with Kevin.  She is not to be trifled with. 

Into this mix, we have the town drunk Moses.  I've named other characters in other stories Moses, They were all loosely based on this drunk homeless guy I once knew, although this Moses has a lot more shit all over him. I think we'll see more of him in future stories.  

And we add three real people for color and authenticity.  It's hard to just stick entirely with made up characters and not cross paths once and a while with authentic folks.  Sioux Chief Rain-in-the -Face gets things going. We meet Deadwood Marshal Seth Bullock, who became marshal after the murder of Wild Bill Hickok. And General Ulysses S. Grant performs a substantial role. 

And there, without any spoilers, I have discussed the major characters in Fallen Angel by simply discussing the naming of characters. Shameless self promotion or objective writing discussion? Hmmm.

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