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Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Wrong Name

So I’ve been brainstorming this new project, and one of the things I do as I get to know my main character is name him or her. I do this for two reasons:

1.     The name needs to fit with the story and the character’s personality. (Because, like it or not, we associate names with types of people or cultures—or worlds if we're talking fiction.)
2.     I can avoid writing “the MC” or “the girl” in all of my notes.

I didn’t say I was good at this.

For my current WIP, I named my main character Wren while brainstorming, but when I went to write the novel I realized she was really an Alex. I think I know why I’m so indecisive on the name front.

I blame my parents.

See, I was named Jessica. Even before I was born, my parents were sure: I was Jessica.

When I was born, my parents ooohed and ahhhed over baby Jessica. My grandparents brought stuffed animals and blankets addressed to baby Jessica.

Yet a couple days later (back in my day, the hospital didn’t throw you out on your butt a day after delivery), they decided that, nope, their baby definitely wasn’t a Jessica. She was a Tracey.

We stayed in the hospital an extra day as the paperwork was shredded and fixed. They got to know me as Tracey. I’ve never been anything else but Tracey. Still, I wonder if my personality would have been different had I been a Jessica (along with every other baby in the ’80s).

Or did my parents see my personality in those first few days and realize—like I realized with my character—that the personality didn’t fit the name? I’m not sure. (And I’m quite aware I just compared my baby self to a fictional character.)

There’s one downside to this baby story, though. I’ll spend my life explaining that Tracey has an e.

No one misspells Jessica.

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