I'm taking part in Deana Barnhart's blogfest this month, and the first week challenge is to ask a random writing question. So here you go...
Names are funny things. I think choosing a name for your child is one of the most important things you ever do, and its the same for characters in a story. The wrong name can create expectations about who a character is before the reader has even gotten past page one.
I was thinking about this yesterday because I'm reading a book at the moment where the main character's name is Eli. My oldest son is Eli (Elias actually, but we call him Eli) and even though the writer has described this Eli as being rangy with dark hair and sad green eyes, I can't help seeing a skinny, freckled redhead as I read. Because that's my Eli.
In one of my books, I had 3 characters with names starting with M, and various critique partners told me it was confusing. So I changed one from Matt to Steve, and it completely flummoxed me. Every time I read through the MS, I'd come to this name and go "Who?"
My characters almost always come to me with their names already decided. I don't give them their names. It's a little disconcerting sometimes, because the names are not always ones I like or would have chosen myself if given the option, but they are always the right names for the character. I think that's why it's to hard to change them later, even if it is just a matter of 'find' and 'replace'.
How do you pick names? And do the people you know with those names affect the way you see characters in books?