April 2022 Featured Article
Having Fun with Names and Careers
Choosing characters’ names and their jobs is one of the delightful parts of beginning a new book.
I don’t have much of a rhyme or reason for choosing names. I find a name I like, then bingo. But where do I find them? You know the end of each movie or TV program with their lists and lists of the people who contributed? I love scouring the names, sometimes for the unique, sometimes for the ordinary. Switching first and last names around is like a game. The only thing is I sometimes forget to jot down my ideas, and with a brain like a sieve, I often lose those ideas forever.
Sometimes I do have a plan. Like when I have a nationality in mind for the character, so I go through name lists on the internet. That’s how I decided on the name Fiona for my main character in The Fragrance of Violets. I wanted Irish. Then I came across Maeve for her mother. That name has always tickled my fancy.
As for the male main character, a father figure, Nason has been a character’s name I’ve had stashed in the back of my mind for many years. Nason was the last name of an uncle by marriage, a race car driver, and I always thought it would be cool as a first name. Too bad Nason in the story isn’t always as cool.
Creating the characters’ jobs is a little trickier. The author wants to find something that meets the skills of the character (unless you want the mismatch of skills and job to be a part of the story), plus it should be a little interesting. Most of all, the author needs to know something of how that profession works. Or at least be able to research and/or find someone in that line of work to clue you in.
Choosing Fiona’s job as a hotel sales and catering manager was perfect because I’d already determined Fiona and Nason would run into each other as part of her job. Nason’s wife has chosen Fiona’s resort as the site for their son’s wedding, and Fiona gets assigned to the planning team. Having a complicated past and that chance encounter fuels the story.
For thirty-five years, I participated in a ministry hosting conferences, working with many employees of hotels and convention centers. Getting to know the inner workings of sales and catering staff through those experiences provided a backdrop for Fiona.
Assigning Nason a career was a little more problematic, and I followed a winding road. I wanted Nason to be a professional. My first choice was to have him be a headhunter, you know a job recruiter. The job had to provide opportunity for Nason to be ruthless at times (before he becomes a Christian).
There was only one problem. It wasn’t working, and I have to thank my critique group for pointing it out. I didn’t know enough about the realities of the profession to make it believable even though I’d done online research. I tried to connect with someone in the field, but to no avail.
So, what to do? Choose a career of one of my friends. I have a great, long-time friend who is an attorney, and if she was willing to help, Nason would become an attorney.
Fortunately for me, she was eager to help, sacrificing her time to explain how law firms work, reading and critiquing scenes, and suggesting new ideas.
Too bad I hadn’t thought of this in the beginning because I was already one-third to halfway through, and changing his job meant changing several plot points. But it was totally worth it. Making Nason an attorney strengthened the story.
I’m working on another novel that includes a character who works at the same hotel and FBI agents. Fortunately, I have a friend who is an agent. But I’m writing this novel with a little fear and trepidation. Adding the FBI and suspense is daunting.
But that’s another article.
Now, I can’t wait for you to read The Fragrance of Violets and let me know if the sales and catering manager and the attorney come together for you.
The Fragrance of Violets, book 2 in my Faces of Courage series, releases May 17 and is available for pre-order now at a special low price and comes with a gift offer. https://www.celebratelitpublishing.com/posts/book/the-fragrance-of-violets/