So, I made a big mistake. Huge, apparently when it comes to naming characters!
I gave most of my characters in my romance trilogy names beginning with ‘J’. So what? You might be thinking, I love names that start with the letter ‘J’. You might even have a name that starts with ‘J’ – which is fabulous by the way! I love ‘J’ names too. The mistake is having too many main characters that have the same initial or sound to them. It makes the reader confused.
When I first heard this I thought – Bah! Readers aren’t stupid. I in my infinte
amazing-ness would never be confused by something as simple as too many ‘J’ names. I’m keeping my ‘J’ names characters. So there! *sticks out tongue to the rule makers*
It turns out that yes, I was wrong. Shocking, I know. My first reader did get confused with all the ‘J’ names around the place. I had Jay, Jackson and Joey running amok and causing general havoc and the reader couldn’t keep them straight, especially since they share chapters.
But I was so attached to these names I held off changing them, until I gave the manuscript out to my beta readers. Then I had to bite the bullet and rename these people who I knew inside out. Would they suit the new names? Would they like them? This was really very difficult for me to do. I was so attached to these names because I had made these characters, they are my babies.
It would be like your kid wanting to change their name at eighteen from Jackson to Hunter. You would always be slipping up and calling him Jackson when it’s not his name anymore. So I started on a project to rename them. I would like to say though, that if I had just thought more about character names before I wrote this book then I wouldn’t have had any trouble with this process!
I wanted names that still gave the same feel to the character as the names I had originally chosen. Jay got to keep his name because he is my favourite (Shhh! Don’t tell the others! Especially Andy!). Jackson became Hunter and Joey became Andy. Look, to be honest I’m still not happy about them, and every time I hear their names I think, ‘Oh yes, Joey.’ Not Andy, it just feels wrong, but I’ll have to get over it because it really is confusing having too many main characters with the first initial.
I didn’t even realise how important this was until I started looking deeper into it. I skip over names when reading a book, I don’t know if all of you do too? I read them the first time and then if I see a ‘K’ I assume it’s Katniss, for example. Or P is Peeta. What if Suzanne Collins had a Katniss, a Keeta and a Kale. Imagine how confusing this would have been. So even though I’ve changed the names I’m not entirely happy about it, but my beta readers loved it, so I’ll just let it go. In no way am I comparing myself to Captain Collins – as I like to call her – that’s almost blasphemous.
I’m much more careful now, and I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be to change the names of fictional characters. I suppose they’re not fictional to me, and that’s kind of the point.
Have you ever made a big mistake and thought gosh why did I do that?! I am an idiot and I deserve to wallow in a creative pit of hell? That has rivers of the tears of struggling artists that came before me! Okay, maybe not, but you guys know what I mean!
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