What’s In A Name?

There were many drafts to THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, and in those many drafts, some character names changed. I’m really careful about naming characters–I want them to be the best representations possible. I want them to make the characters feel real. Sometimes I name a character quickly, without much thought to it. Sometimes I think long and hard and come up with a name days later. And sometimes I write an entire book with one name and end up changing it later on. All of those scenarios happened with TNWSY. So here’s a fun look at the process of naming all of my main characters:

Ella: El was originally Deirdre, Dee for short. I liked it, but it didn’t feel right. I changed it after writing the first chapter. (Which, fun fact, the first chapter I ever wrote was the book’s Chapter Two. So my very first line was “Dee, turn it up.”) By the way, though not said until MATT’S STORY, Ella’s last name is Rhodes.

Meg: Meg was Kat (short for Katherine). I liked Kat a lot; it was short and strong, but again, it didn’t feel like her. I plotted it as Kat, but as soon as I started typing, I changed it to Meg. (Meg, incidentally, is the name of my best friend. The character is not based on her at all, but it still feels right.) Meg’s last name is Kensey–it’s said halfway through the book.

Matt: Matt was always Matt. Always. And his last name is Grayson, which you learn in MATT’S STORY.

Jake: Jake was Sam (Samuel). I wanted a soft name for a hard character, but it never felt right. I changed it to Jake before even plotting the story, and when I did, everything clicked. It’s like finding that name also helped me also find him. Though never mentioned, Jake’s last name is Kelly, as a sly reference to one of my favorite musicals, Newsies.

Barker: Barker is the drummer for The Pepperpots, and though a side character, he still has a huge place in my heart. His name was Jeremy (Jerm for short) all through writing it. I sold it with Barker as Jeremy. I edited it with Barker as Jeremy. In the last round, my editor suggested I change it because we already had a J name (Jake–and I wasn’t changing that). So I gave him a last name, and had him go by that. And I actually really love the change, as he’s the kind of guy who’d totally go by his last name. (Though never stated in the book, he’s clearly Jeremy Barker in my mind.)

Gabby: Barker’s girlfriend, and friend to Ella and Meg. Much like Barker, she had a different name all through writing and editing until the last round. I changed her name the same time I changed Barker’s. She was Moira originally, but we agreed with Meg and Matt there were far too many M’s. And like Barker, Gabby felt right for her character. (Though, I still sometimes slip and say Moira.)

And those are my characters!

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4 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. drizzleandhurricanebooks says:

    This is so great and interesting to read all of this! Coming up with names while writing a book must be so hard, whenever I am trying to write, I always have a hard time choosing names. It’s great to read about the process of choosing names, and last minute changes and everything! Really looking forward to reading this! 🙂

  2. Jamie @ Books and Ladders says:

    This is amazing. I love seeing the change in the name and the way you worked it through in your mind. I think as much as I love some of the original names, the story wouldn’t be the same if Ella wasn’t named Ella!

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