Welcome to the garden everyone, my guest today on the Mystery We Write Blog Tour is Anne K. Albert. Everyone grab some refreshments, and let's have some fun. Now I'll turn the lawn over to my guest....
She is online at her website www.AnneKAlbert.com, blog http://anne-k-albert.blogspot.com, Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-K-Albert-Fan-Page/167338756619836
and Twitter. https://twitter.com/#!/AnneKAlbert
Mary - How do you name your characters?
Anne - Naming characters is a process that includes whimsy, practicality and an Excel spreadsheet.
While I usually know the name of my protagonist before I begin writing, secondary characters are a complete mystery. I have no idea who will show up until they walk onto the page. At that point, they demand I give them a name and I gladly comply--if for no other reason than I want to get on with the writing and find out what happens next! (If you haven’t all ready guessed, I’m a seat of the pants writer. I don’t plot or outline. I just sit down and write. One sentence demands another, and eventually I reach ‘the end’. It’s a roller coaster ride, both exhilarating and terrifying!)
Ah, but we were taking about names, weren’t we? During the writing of the first draft characters are in a state of flux. Their name, occupation and appearance may change numerous times. Why? Because I’m uncertain who they are. It’s very similar to meeting a person for the first time. You get an impression of who they are, but it often takes years to really get to know them. By the end of the first draft, I understand what they want, why they want it, and whether or not they achieve their goal. I also come to realize Eve is more of a Rachel or Simon is actually a Cole.
Sometimes, as was the case with Frank, Incense and Muriel, I had the hero’s name and the title. It’s a twist on the phrase ‘frankincense and myrrh’, of course. It also suggests a holiday themed mystery. (The story takes place the week before Christmas.) It seemed logical that the heroine’s name should begin with ‘M’ and sound similar to ‘myrrh’. ‘Muriel’ fit not only, but suits the heroine’s personality.
That’s the whimsy of the name game in my writing process. Now, about that practical side I mentioned.
I personally find it a chore to read a book that includes a cast of Sandy, Sally, and Sammy. Names that begin with the same letter and have the same number of syllables are difficult to keep straight. (At least they are for me!) Unusual spellings also hinder my ability to keep reading. For these reasons, and to help readers differentiate one character from the other in my stories, I make a conscious effort to use character names that begin with a different letter of the alphabet. In other words, you will not find Amy, Anne, Abigail, Andy, and Arne in my stories. Amy, Brendan, Catherine, Deke, Eliza and Flo, however, will be present! The same goes for surnames. I’ll use Stevens, Tyne, Underwood, Vicar, and Williamson rather than Stevens, Samson, Stinson and Simms.
I also vary names according to syllable length. In a story with four girl friends, I not only prefer their names to begin with a different letter of the alphabet, but also be of different syllable lengths. Hope, Mary, Tiffany and Elizabeth, for example begin with a different letter and use one to four syllables.
Whether or not the reader notices my self imposed rules regarding character names is inconsequential. In fact, I would be surprised if they did. My goal is simply to keep them turning the pages, not stopping mid sentence to figure out who is doing what.
Mary - Do you like to write series? Or single titles only?
Anne - I write two series. The Piedmont Island Trilogy romantic suspense series takes place on fictional Piedmont Island. It’s a small island community in northeastern Minnesota and has more trouble than residents. Defending Glory is book one of the series and Protecting Hope, book two, will be released later this year.
I also write the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. Frank, Incense and Muriel, book one of the series was awarded the 2011 Holt Medallion Award of Merit. Here’s the blurb:
Buy Link: Amazon
I’m giving away an e-copy of FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL to one reader at the conclusion of the Mystery We Write tour. Leave a comment to automatically be entered in the draw. The winner will be announced April 28 at http://anne-k-albert.blogspot.com.
Thanks so much, Mary for featuring me today. It’s a pleasure to tour cyberspace with you on the Mystery We Write Blog Tour.