Character Conundrum

I’m writing a novel. This isn’t a moment where I’m making some profound statement about my work, nor am I asking you to throw glitter and toot a horn. I am actually questioning my sanity at the moment.

The idea of a character came to me — she’s so perfect — so delicious in a matronly blue-hair, girdle type of way. Even her name makes me laugh when I say it.

What’s my conundrum?

The other characters.

I know who they are and who they’re supposed to be, but I can’t name them. I’ve spent hours pacing the floor,  yelling out into the void “What is your name?” and they continue to hide.

I have a friend who published”Characters Without a Book.” My characters have a book, they’re just being incredibly stubborn about telling me WHO they are.

Naming characters is a challenge. Not only do I want to make sure the name suits the character, but that it fits the era (or in this case, eras) and works with the geography. While my book is based in the US, the area is a small Southern town I know and is unique in the names of the “native born” who have inhabited the area for a few centuries.

And so, I will sit here with my notebook and a list of names I’ve scribbled over various pages and debate. In a few weeks, I’ll travel to said town to visit the library and look at old yearbooks from the past and pick random first and last names and fill in the pages of the same notebook as I work to give my characters a name.

If I’m going to tell their life story, they deserve a great name.




6 thoughts on “Character Conundrum

    1. That’s the plan. I’m going to check out the yearbooks and maybe walk through a few cemeteries. Morbid sounding, but effective!

      1. Some libraries will have a local archives section where they are housed. The town I’m writing happens to have that, so I’m in luck!

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