When I started writing the Caribbean Adventure Series, I named the children Mark, Kyle, and Ingrid. The process was effortless, the names just came to me and stuck. I gave my childhood friend, Ingrid, a heads-up that she was about to be hounded by the paparazzi for being featured in a best-seller, but the big issue turned out to be that Kyle was the name of the son of one of my employees. He, of course, was ecstatic although it was pure coincidence and there was no resemblance between the real boy and the fictional character. My children were not pleased and have hounded me ever since to write stories that feature them as characters.
Now I put a little more thought into the names that I choose. For example, I am writing a short story about a snake and the name 'Sammy' popped into my head. If you grew up watching Sesame Street, you may remember a character who sang one song which went something like this:"I am Sammy the Snake and I look like the letter 'S'."
The fact that the name was not original was just a small part of my problem. I named his brother Stanley, and when I read the story out loud I realised that young children would be easily confused by the similarity of the names - Sammy and Stanley, Stanley and Sammy, even I had difficulty keeping them straight. Right now, I feel as if I have spent more time naming these snakes than I did choosing the names of my own children!
How important is it to give your characters carefully considered names? Names are very suggestive, they suggest certain characteristics, eras and locations. Some names immediately bring certain personalities to mind. A character named Freddie in a horror story may make your readers anticipate scenes from Friday the 13th, whereas Freddie may be perfectly realistic as the captain of a ship.
Does anyone else agonise over character names?