Every writer has their own process for finding names. I work with the public, so I hear a LOT of names. I also collect baby name books, and I’ve been known to thumb through a phone book, especially for last names.
Bobbi Williamson was the first character I ever created. Period.
Before we go any further, I didn’t plan I being a writer. I’ve never taken a creative writing course, not even in high school. I took lots and lots literature classes, but those focused on picking apart other people’s work, not creating anything new. I wrote the usual term papers in college, but they were informative pieces of drivel. Bobbi was different. She was my first attempt at creating something out of a bunch of random ideas. I didn’t know what I was doing. Most writers get to work through this stuff when they’re still in elementary school or they have a teacher slap a book in front of them and give them assignments. I didn’t have that. I had trial and error.
I have at least a dozen notebooks, my first attempts at writing a novel. Most of the stuff in them is awful. But I’d write something, then pick it apart, and try to figure out WHY it was awful. My biggest problem, besides being clueless, stemmed from not knowing my main character, Bobbi. Who was she? What made her tick? I knew her parents wanted a boy. She was supposed to be named Robert. Her parents named her Roberta instead. This was my first attempt at thinking about a character’s back-story. It took me a while to name her. I wanted her to have name with masculine roots, something a bit old fashioned. Incidentally, Bobbi was named after a guy my husband worked with. He spells his name with a “y.”
My early drafts weren’t a waste. They gave me a LONG time to get to know Bobbi Williamson. The theory being, the better I know my main character, the less sucky my book will be. Do they teach that in school? Maybe. They probably have a better way of saying it. 😉
At this point, Bobbi and I know one another well enough for her to pop into my dreams when the occasion suits her. It was VERY strange seeing her there the first time. She’s not a real person, so seeing her in 3D, being able to interact with her…is really…different. Regardless, I know what kind of crap she carries around in her purse. I know what her closets look like. I know what books she reads, the music she listens to…and yet, she still manages to surprise me. Odd, since she came out of my imagination.
Long story short, Bobbi has a special place in my heart. She’s taught me a LOT.
Chloe Williamson…well she’s a horse of a different color. It was MUCH easier to create Chloe than it was Bobbi. Chloe practically created herself. You see Chloe didn’t exist in the first few drafts. My son found a kitten under our porch. We took care of it for a bit, our neighbor adopted her, and named the cat “Chloe.” What a cute name for a cat! I couldn’t get her name out of my head. And while I’m not a “kid person,” Chloe Williamson’s character is teenager. I didn’t know she was supposed to be in my story. She squirmed her way in there, changed EVERYTHING around, and made my life Hell. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would have written a nice paranormal romance story or something, and been finished by now. But noooooo! Chloe turned the whole book on its ear! (As teenagers are known to do.) Also, if she were real, I’d give her a giant hug for taking over my plot. She may have come out of my imagination, but she helped me work through a TON of old baggage, stuff I didn’t know I was carrying around. She sees things differently. She has a child’s view of the world.
I have other characters of course, but Bobbi and Chloe are the main characters of the novel I’m finishing up. When I give an excerpt, it’s either from a “Bobbi Chapter,” or a “Chloe Chapter.” Odd Chapters are from Bobbi’s perspective, even are from Chloe’s. Will this be confusing to readers? I hope not. I’m sure it would have been easier to write the whole book in 3rd person point of view, but then you couldn’t crawl around inside Bobbi and Chloe’s skulls. Teenagers talk and think differently than adults. I try to reflect that in my writing. They’ve both been fun characters to work with. If anyone else gets ANY enjoyment from them, that’s just gravy! 🙂
Have a great day!