Do you think Sookie looks a little spooky?
What’s in a name?
Well, think about your own name. Does your name have a meaning? Who named you? Are you named after someone? Do you like your name? Have you adopted a nickname?
Get the picture – names are complicated and interesting…That doesn’t change if you are a fictional character.
So when an editor asks me to rewrite the ending, or fix a chapter, or start in a different place, I say, “Sure, no problem.” (um, after a long walk.) But when an editor asks me to consider renaming a character, I might dig in my heels and say, “What? – I’m not so sure about that…” Suddenly (and uncharacteristically) I’m a little stubborn.
That’s because I’ve already gone through the process listed above. What I haven’t done is pulled a name out of thin air. Sometimes I have favourite names I am waiting to bestow on just the right character (as I’m doing now with my new manuscript.) Other times, I’ve made word associations with my character and my character’s name. To unravel those associations is a challenging task.
In one instance a long time ago, a publication changed my character’s name without consulting me. To this day, I wince thinking how that didn’t work. If they had consulted me about the name they chose, I’d have gone back and unravelled and rewoven some of the supporting details.
What’s in choosing the right name? For me, quite a lot…
Are cats and writers supposed to go together? Most writers I know have pets, a few have dogs but the majority have cats. For me, we’ve always had family pets, but it’s been the kids who devoted themselves to our animals.
Until my son brought home a lost kitten…
The furry little guy had been trapped under a cement porch for several days until my son and friend coaxed him out. Then my son phoned and said, “I don’t want to take him to the shelter. He’s really cute, can I bring him back?” Only for a few days until you find a nice place for him, I’d answered.
The kitten had lost most of his tail, and he was dehydrated and starved. How had he even survived in this coyote and racoon ridden neighbourhood? I’ll admit I wasn’t looking forward to even a few days with a wild and terrified cat.
So what did the kitten do when my son brought him home? He leaped out of his arms, padded across the floor and jumped into my arms where he snuggled and wrapped his little paws around my neck, thereby wrapping me around his… er…cat finger…He actually sighed in relief.
So he’s stayed with us happily ever after? Well, sort of. You see, he is a little wild – and random – and he bites and scratches. I thought as he got older he’d settle in. Not so much.
Then my sciencey friend set to work trying to unravel the enigma of my cat – -how he was totally devoted to me one minute, and biting or scratching me the next.
Apparently he’s a hunter – and he has to dominate his jungle. But like I said, we live in a neighbourhood where cat posters are a weekly appearance – so he has to be an indoor cat.
So my friend advised me to set out tasks for this furry friend – he needed fake birds to chase (I found a cool wand with feathers that looks like a fluttery bird) and a tunnel to hide in and watch his prey, and hidden cat treats that he has to hunt for…
This has helped somewhat, but I shake my head even thinking about my slow descent into cat madness.
On the upside, he’s been a little calmer now the weather’s improving, and he sits outside on the deck with me while I try to read or write. Try is the operative word, because lately he waits until I’m not paying attention and then he jumps over the rail and sneaks into the yard. Then I go chase him – yeah, great fun.
Maybe writers and pets go together. It’s nice to be tapping away at the keyboard while a furry creature cuddles at your feet.
However, my furry friend has sharp teeth and claws.