What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? Everything. A few years ago a Chinese friend of mine rang to ask if New Zealand baby names had meanings. “Of course,” I said. He next asked, “What name means mistake?”

Very funny but, the other day, I was editing my novel when I came across the names of two agents—spies in fact. Their names were Oleg and Ivan. How lame could I be; these are not how spies get their names. In fact, they get code words, so I needed to change them. I renamed one Neon and the other Archie. However, Archie is the name of a son to a very famous person who has hogged the news recently, so I had to change it again. Fortunately, I came up with a suitable alternative one night and am happy now. In my first novel, 3 WISE MEN, the three main character names had to fit their country of birth. The moral to all this;

Be careful how you name your characters.

Which leads to another quandary; can I use real company names in a novel? That’s for another post 🙂

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name – a character’s name, that is? In 3 WISE MEN the protagonist, Jak Daniels, was a very simple name to think up – a name, like the author’s, that causes confusion and mistaken identity. Jak meets a woman on the train – and her name is Sasha. In the early draft she had a different name – an older name, and one less fitted to her young looks and outgoing personality. ‘Sasha’ fitted her persona better and it was a name that worked well alongside ‘Jak’. But I wanted to mention another name used in 3 WISE MEN – Ambrose. His name was, in the first instance, ‘Ambroise’. One reader commented that he found it difficult to say ‘Ambroise’ correctly. Therefore, I reverted to the simpler spelling – ‘ Ambrose’. Again, this small revision made the text much easier to read. Finally, and one that I struggled with, was the name of Jak’s dog. I laugh thinking about it, because the first manuscript had a glaring error – I had given Jak’s dog three different names! Yes, names in a novel are important and need to provide – for a thriller at least- a measure of contrast and good (or bad) character-fit. The names of our 3 daughters also appear in the book, which was a nice touch to honor them. Another name – Andrea – was used (with permission) following a very special tour around Milan by someone of the same name. It took quite a while to come up with names that matched, but I do hope you find the names used in 3 WISE MEN appealing.

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