The power of a name

October 13, 2013

I spend a great deal of time and care searching for the right name for the characters in my novels. The more important the character, the more time I spend trying to get the name just right. After all, names are important - and they mean different things to different people.


Take the name Pamela, for instance. Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this name: it's actually quite a nice name. It rolls off the tongue, isn't too long and looks ok on the page. But for me, Pamela has very negative connotations. 


When I was fourteen I was bullied by an older girl (seventeen, and with a three year old daughter - so really she should have known better), and I spent at least a year of my life terrified that I would bump into her in the street, or at the youth club, or wherever. And even up until fairly recently I would repress a slight shudder whenever I heard that particular name. The series True Blood features a character called Pam, and this has gone some way to ease my dislike of the name, but I don't think I will ever truly get over  the emotions that the name Pamela can still evoke. 


I also find that sometimes when I hear a name, whether it be on tv, the radio, or in general chat, I start to analyse it in terms of my writing: would it be a good name for a character? What would that character be like? And before I know it I have invented a whole personality for that name, with absolutely no plot behind it! 


So the next time you meet one of my leading characters, remember that a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into finding that name. And for all you Pamelas out there, who I am sure are all lovely ladies, please accept my apologies for not using your name.

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