Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Naming Names II

As I'm going through my manuscript, I'm noting the names I've used for characters. Mainly I'm doing this so I don't repeat names or use too many similar names (I named two different secretaries "Shirley," so this'll help me catch problems like that).

A couple nights ago, the daughter of Brooke Adams (owner/operator of a local bar, The Point) was mentioned. In the rough draft the girl was named Ashleigh. Now I don't know the names of a lot of the teen-agers in our rural community, but there is (at least) one Ashleigh. As far as I know, beyond the mention Ashleigh never appears in the book, but Brooke, her mom, plays quite a big role. So, to avoid speculation that book-Ashleigh's mom is based on real-Ashleigh's mom (she isn't), I needed to change her name.

Initially I changed the name to Mandy. Dina and I had a Sheltie named Mandy and as far as I know that's the only Mandy I've ever known (Amandas excepted). So that was safe.

And while it was safe, it didn't really make a difference in the story. Mandy Adams could be left out completely. And if Brooke Adams' daughter is never mentioned, then key information about Brooke herself never gets delivered. So how to make a non-existent character significant?

Later, in the Maya Daniels story arc, we have a mother (Geri Aguilar) feuding with her ex-husband (Richard Daniels). When Geri takes Maya to the hospital in Pendleton, she checks Maya in under Aguilar (her maiden name, which she went back to after divorcing Dick). Richard, who has anger management issues, gets steamed about that and takes out his rage on the revival preacher (big mistake).

So, could that conflict be pre-reflected in the case of the Adamses?

Last night I decided to change Brooke's daughter's name to Brandi. Brooke runs a bar, and the notion of a bartender's daughter being named Brandi struck me as twisted and wrong. Something a spiteful soon-to-be-ex might name a girl while her mother was recovering from a C-section, for instance.

It's a small point and gets dealt with quickly, but ideally it'll resonate later on.