Naming a character might be one of the best parts of writing a book, but it can also be one of the hardest. You want to get the character names just right because (if readers are anything like me) impression are sometimes created by the name of character.
When it came to Fostino, the male love interest for The Undesirable, I had a really hard time naming him. I kicked around about ten different names for him, and not one of them felt right. I could see him in my head, and almost hear him speaking in my mind, but I didn’t think any name I tried out for him worked.
Would you believe an early name for this character was Derek? Yes, friends, it was.
Fostino needed a certain name–an unusual name, a name that would immediately put him at odds with a community hellbent on conformity and “fitting in.” But after several weeks of trying on different names, I just couldn’t figure out a name that fit. In short, I was stuck.
Enter my friend Jacob. He works with me at my day job as a photographer (I’m a TV anchor and reporter) and we sometimes work on stories that take up several hours of our day. It’s the kind of work environment that allows you get to pretty close to your co-workers. After almost two years of working together often, he and I are pretty tight.
By the time we got in a car one day on the way to Ft. Sill from Oklahoma City, he knew I had started writing a book. He knew about where I was in the story. And he even know how much anguish the male lead’s name had been causing me.
So, he did what he usually does. He forced me to talk about it. He asked probing questions and even teased me a little until I opened up.
And that’s when it began.
He tossed out a name. I toss out one. I pulled out my trusty Moleskine notebook and started jotting them down. He said another. I brought up two others. By about 10 miles from Ft. Sill, that notebook had a list of about 25 names.
Only one of those names had a big circle and star. It was the one that rang true.