Sunday 6 October 2013

Creating Characters: What's in a Name?

I’ve just read a book (a romance) where the hero was called Trevor. He was described as a tall, dark and very hot twenty-something - but I still kept waiting for him to light a pipe.
In the book I’d read before that, the hero’s name was Virgil - and all I could think about was Thunderbirds.

So does it really matter what name an author gives their hero?
Why Do Fools Fall in Love
was turned down by the first publisher it was sent to. The most random reason was that the editor didn’t like the names of the heroes - Ross and Luke. “No one is called Ross,” she told me firmly.
Obviously not a Friends fan.

When Disney’s Little Mermaid first came out, I remember feeling very let down that the Prince was called Eric. Whoever heard of a hero called Eric? Ah … Well, if you’ve ever watched True Blood, or read the Charlaine Harris books the TV series is based on, you’ll be familiar with a vampire called Eric Northman. His name suits him fine - mainly because he’s also a 1,000 year old Viking.

In Breathless, Joseph Halfpenny’s daughters have been given the old-fashioned names of Phyllis, Selma and Constance. The Halfpennys are big on both family and history so I had the idea that Joseph named them after his mother and aunts.
So the moral of this story is that authors should have the freedom to call their characters whatever they like, even ‘Trevor’.
But they’d better have a very good reason.

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