What I'm reading: Forbidden and Freedom's Price, both by Suzanne Brockmann
(Finished reading all my contest entries.)
What I'm working on: Scoring my Daphne reads. Also, back to Fozzie's book. Feels good to be doing something 'new' after all the edits and revisions.
With all the books I've been reading lately, and especially, trying to read quickly but still give them the attention needed for scoring, I've been caught up in the Name Game. Naming characters is a challenge all writer's face. They've got to "fit" the character. However, readers bring their own expectations or inner visions. My mother in law's name is Lucy. She's going to be 90 in a couple of weeks. Somehow, a young, svelte, sexy character named Lucy means the author's going to have to work at getting a good description down from the get-go. And what do you 'see' when you read a character's name is Allenby? That was the name of our tour guide in South Africa, and believe me, he looked nothing like the man I envisioned. (His pictures is in this blog somewhere down in the South Africa travel posts from December)
Anyway, when I write, I create a spreadsheet of the letters of the alphabet. Two columns, with A-Z in each one. Then, as I come up with a name, I'll put the first name in one column and the last name in the other. This has nothing to do with who the characters are -- it's simply a way to track names to make sure they're not too similar. And, on the advice of author Jeremiah Healy, I do everything I can NOT to use the intials of my h/h -- first OR last -- for any other characters in the book. So, for Finding Sarah, Sarah Tucker, the heroine, would mean I wouldn't use any S or T names.
The importance of this came when I was writing a scene for Hidden Fire. I had three characters having lunch, talking about a 4th. As I started typing Langley, Lalone and Laughlin, I realized I needed to do some renaming.
In the books and manuscripts I've been reading, I came across one with an Alex, and Aaron and an Anna in the same book. Also a Sophie and a Sabrina. In another one, there were two major characters, one named Mike and one named Mack. One was a first name, one a last, but the frequent use of the last name kept stopping me to make sure I knew who I was reading about.
And I suppose that just like 'real' names go through popularity cycles, so do fictional ones. I've seen lots of "S" heroines lately. I had 2 Sophies, a Samantha and a Sarah in recent reads. And three Jacks (one was a Jackson, though, but nobody called him that).
How do you feel about character names when you read? Do you even have trouble remembering who's who? Do you care if you can't pronounce the name?