If I haven’t said it before, let me say it now: I have an amazing publisher in Fierce Ink Press.
Last week they asked me to flesh-out my synopsis for book 2 in the Portia Adams Adventures, and I have to tell you, I find writing synopses MUCH harder than writing casebooks.
They were super-patient and helpful, teasing out the bits that really draw a reader in, and teaching me a lot about how to ‘sell’ your story.
But the most interesting thing that came up was the paragraph about Portia’s new boyfriend – the brilliant coroner I named Gregory Charles. They were as unimpressed with his name as I have been through the course of writing about him (here’s my post from last year about my issues with his name) and in talking out what his significance will be to Portia’s story arc over the next few books, we all decided he needed a new name.
He has that kind of dark-cool-sexiness that reminds me of Mr. Darcy or Spock or Sylar from Heroes. I started by listing out some words that describe him: dark, cool, sexy, mysterious, brilliant, restrained, closed-off, intimidating.
After going back and forth about his character and how he develops over the casebooks, and using some baby name sites to brainstorm we settled on Dr. Gavin Douglas Whitaker (no more Gregory Charles!).
This is actually a funny blog post because I only discovered this by mistake while writing out the character profiles over the last month or so.
There are very few character names that I really really thought about before naming them: Portia Adams and Nerissa are two that spring to mind right away for example in that I walked around thinking about the best name for my protagonist for some time. I knew her last name had to be Adams based on the canon, but her first name is all mine, and led to the naming of her faithful bloodhound Nerissa.
BUT what is interesting is that the rest of the characters were named on instinct for the most part. Brian Dawes for example, was just the name that seemed to fit the character best, based on nothing but it seeming to fit. The same is true for Sergeant Michaels, Dr. Beans, Chief Inspector Archer and Annie Coleson.
I struggled with Dr. Gregory Charles (actually I still do) because it seemed to be a name that was too anonymous. But as the character is growing in my mind, more and more it seems to fit.
The funny thing is that while writing these character profiles I am discovering neat things about my seemingly random instinctive choices. Some really apt meanings of names have sprung out at me from Google that honestly make me feel like some higher power (the God of the Lexicon perhaps) was guiding my hand. It’s very weird, but also super cool.
This has led to planning the first names for Michaels and Archer (who up until now were only known by their titles and surnames) that I will not claim were random.
What about you guys? How do you decide on character names?