Dear Mr. Clemens,
I am in desperate need of assistance and hope that your generous readers will come to my aid. I must begin a new story and have no clue what to name my characters.
Many authors speak of their books and the characters therein as their ‘children’ or ‘offspring.’ This is true for me but only in the sense of having an emotional attachment to and an investment in the development of those characters. When I named my children, their father helped. No one ever helps me name my fictional characters. I knew before my kids were born what I wanted to give them and a specific name that represented that. Not true early on in a book. I haven’t spent nine months gestating with these characters so I rarely have any idea what to call them.
For some authors, characters come to mind full-blown, complete with names, cultural and family backgrounds, back-stories, and all sorts of other information. I, however, usually start writing a book with no clear idea of who the characters are other than the role that character plays. Take the following paragraphs from a work in progress as an example.
HERO paused in the doorway of his gentleman’s club and surveyed the room. Good he nodded to himself. Not a friend or family member in sight. He ambled toward a row of tall wing-back chairs near the fireplace. It was beastly cold outside, and the chance for a few quiet moments to warm himself and consider his circumstances was irresistible. He sat, propped his cane against the chair-side table, and held his hands out to warm in the heat of the fire.
“Hullo coz,” WHATZIZNAME’S voice floated from behind the chair. “Mind if I join you?”
HERO repressed a growl. Of course, I mind, but I doubt saying so would stop you. The last thing he needed now was one of his many cousins pouring out their latest family troubles and seeking their wealthy relative’s advice. Advice which without fail proved to be expensive, for him. However, this time he would turn the tables. This time he would seek advice—not that he would follow it—before WHATZIZNAME could even hint at a personal problem let alone that cash would solve it for him.
“By all means, cousin,” HERO gestured to the chair flanking his. “I could use your help.”
WHATZIZNAME paused in the act of sitting, his bum poised a good twelve inches off the chair. His face paled, and his eyes went wide. “Y . . . you wish my advice?”
HERO waved a hand in the air. “Well, I thought, since you are a man of the world, you might have experience with the kind of trouble I’m in.”
WHATZISNAME finished sitting. He looked about as comfortable as a fat monkey that had stumbled upon a tiger’s lair. “Ahem. And what sort of trouble might that be? I can’t imagine that a man of your reputation and, ah, sangfroid would have any difficulty not easily resolved.”
HERO allowed himself to heave a sigh. “My problem is of a delicate nature.”
“Ah, woman trouble,” WHATZIZNAME sat back and made himself comfortable.
WHATZIZNAME’S frequent difficulties with women made him a horrible source of good advice. HERO knew he could successfully follow the opposite of his relative’s counsel to resolve the issue with his current mistress.
“What is the exact nature of the problem?”
“As you know, LADY X, and I have enjoyed a pleasant dalliance for several years.”
“True, every man I know envies your success with the widow.”
“Well, she’s decided she no longer wishes to be a widow.”
“Ah, and she wants you as her next husband?”
“She said as much to me.”
“So buy her off.”
“She’s wealthy enough not to be interested in money. That’s is reassuring to my vanity, for I know her interest is in me and my title rather than my fortune. However, even if I could purchase my way free of her, it wouldn’t work.”
“Because . . . .”
As you can see, dear readers, I really must name these two gentlemen and the lady involved. Progress in drafting this novel will be next to impossible if I cannot find suitable names. To help you help me, here’s a little background on the story. It takes place in 1815. While the story opens in a London gentleman’s club, the bulk of the story takes place at the country home of a recently deceased relative. Lady X will play a very small part, but she is a motivating force in HERO’s decision to obey the summons to the reading of the will. Anything you can provide in the way of suggestion will be most sincerely appreciated. However, my most desperate need is names for these three characters. Please comment below with any suggestions and accept my grateful thanks.
Rue Allyn is a Bluestocking Belle and the award winning author of both contemporary and historical romance. You may find her on line at the following links:
Rue’s Website: https://RueAllyn.com
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