Today, while watching spring training baseball (featuring my team—those perennial non-World Series-winning baby bears), a player named Welington Castillo stepped up to bat. What a really great name, I thought. Cool, interesting, and—somehow—it made me curious about him.
That’s precisely the kind of name I want for the main character of the story I’m currently working on.
And, that’s just the kind of name that has eluded me, so far.
I hope I’m not making an incorrect statement when I say that most writers struggle in searching for the right names for their characters. After all, a character’s name shouldn’t be boring or passe. It should reflect something about the character’s history or personality. It should be important, but not more important than the story itself. It should be unique—but not ridiculous, memorable—but not totally un-name-like. It seems to take forever to find the right one and then, just when the fit is perfect—some other author, or playwright, or pop-star has emerged on the scene using the very same name! Or, even worse (in my opinion), when you read your writing out loud the perfect name is somehow impossibly cumbersome on the tongue/or annoying to the ear. So very frustrating…
The name of a beloved book character stays with you forever. I’ll never hear the name “Anne” without thinking of my beloved “Anne with an ‘e’ Shirley” or see the old-fashioned name “Josephine” without remembering how “Jo March” cut off her hair. My collie “Ranger” (on his AKC registration, “Aragorn Ranger of the North”) definitely lived up to the loyalty and kingliness of his namesake. And my pound-puppy “Took” has proved as mischievous as the troublesome hobbit he was named after. I’m not the only one affected—there are already troops of youngsters named “Harry” and “Lily” and “James” and—although I’ve yet to hear of it—I’m sure some poor child has been named “Serverus.” And I’m predicting that we will see a few little girls named “Katniss” (and maybe even a “Hugo” or two) beginning kindergarten in a few years.
So, I’ll keep on searching. *sigh*