What’s in a Name?

I love this list of beloved literary characters who were almost named something else. I can’t imagine the brightest witch of her age being called “Hermione Puckle.”

When I first started The Chance You Won’t Return, main character Alexandra “Alex” Winchester was almost called Winnie. As in Winnie Cooper or Winnie Foster. Both of which are characters that live in a historical setting.

Not exactly what I was looking for in my contemporary YA novel.

I can’t remember how I settled on Alex, exactly, but that was what she became almost immediately after I decided I needed to change her name. It felt like her–casual, kind of sporty, someone who’s used to blending in while still being a thoughtful observer.

I settled on Winchester pretty quickly, too. The story’s set in a fictional small town in Virginia and, while driving down for my second year at UVa, my car broke down in Winchester, VA. It felt like a little high five to a town that got me on the road again.

Do your character names tend to evolve over time, or do they spring to mind fully named?

(image: multisanti)

Surnames from Shore to Shore

I have a hard time coming up with last names for my characters, especially minor ones that might need last names but don’t get much page time. This National Geographic map detailing the most common surnames across the US might be a big help when I need to pick a fairly random one. Lots of Smith and Jones, but it’s fun to see the more regionally common last names like Pelletier in Maine and Trujillo in the southwest.