Thursday, August 14, 2014

Books of Their Own - The Name Game

Debra is attempting to use minor characters from her series in books of their own.

When I set out to write my first book, I purposely included a cast of secondary characters who would, one day, get their own stories. And while these characters naturally weren't as up front in the spotlight as the hero and heroine, they did play an integral role in the story. I gave them unique traits and voices in order to set up their future stories. I even gave them names that would one day be fitting for the heroes in other books.

Now that the series is done, I've found I'm not quite ready to leave the world I created. So, I got it into my head to do a few 'spin off' stories. The Corral would be featured, but we really wouldn't hear too much about the main couples from the three books in the series except in passing. They won't have dialogue or any major interaction with the new characters. My plan was to take minor characters I'd mentioned in the main books and use them as my heros and/or heroines.

Which is all fine and good, but at the time I never thought about using them as a main characters, so I didn't put a lot of thought into their names. Now this is turning into a bit of a problem as I try to go forward with my plan. It's not that I've given them bad names. Just...ordinary names. Ones that purposely faded into the background as to not take away from the main hero and heroine.

For me, naming my characters is a huge deal. Usually I have one pretty much set from the start, and then I try to 'match up' a name for the love interest. Usually I have a character in mind, and I choose a name to go with that type of character. Now I'm trying to do the opposite. I have a list of names and need to create characters around them. It's proving to be quite tricky.

Right now I have a story I started where I'm using one of the waitresses from The Corral as the heroine. Waitresses I've named in previous books are: Pam, Tina, Darla. The hero's name is Tyler (And I've already grown familiar with him, so I'm not changing it.) so Tina is out. Tina and Tyler? Nope. Not gonna fly. Pam is a lovely name, it just doesn't seem to work for a heroine. For me. Do I extend it? Go with Pamela? Darla could work, but in the third book in the series I referred to her as the 'new' I then need to worry about an exact time line and how these stories fit chronologically into the main series? Is anyone but me going to really care or notice if the timing is a bit off? Especially since the stories aren't related at all?

Maybe I need to dig back into the books and see if I listed anymore waitress names.

I guess in the future I need to be more careful about choosing minor character names in my stories...just in case, right?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


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  1. I understand exactly where you're coming from with this, Debra. I hadn't even thought about a spin-off story until my editor suggested it, but as a result I've ended up with the heroine's best friend Charley (aka Charlotte) as my new heroine. I would never have thought of having Charley as my heroine's name, but I'm getting used to it now. In future, I'll think more carefully about secondary characters' names - just in case I decide to do any more spin-off stories!

    1. Live and learn, right? :)

      I have to say, I do like the name Charley for a heroine!

  2. You bring up a really good point, Debra. Maybe build the next story around a waitress whose name you like and can match with a hero. Then introduce new waitresses for future books in the series. Waitresses come and go, so your readers would not be likely to question anything.

  3. I was thinking that about the comings and goings of waitresses. A very valid point. Would a waitress from my first book still be around if I'm sticking to a literal chronology? Probably not. It's a good thing we're talking fiction here, so there's a bit of wiggle room, right?!

    I think I'm just stuck trying to make some kind of connection to the previous books besides just the setting.

  4. Oh, names are tricky! If The Corral is the kind of place that inspires loyalty, then the waitresses would still be there. I like Pam the best, although Darla could work too. You could also have the hero come up with a nickname for her based on one of her character traits and then he refers to her by that rather than one of the names you have.