A name is just a name, right?


I’ve been editing my book. Going through and reading it out loud is really working for me. It highlights areas where the writing is clumsy and challenges me to make it better. But it’s a stange process, mainly because the words I’m reading were laid down over two and half years ago. I’m reading sections and thinking “Why did I do that?” Mostly I remember writing it, but I can’t remember the decision making process over certain things. In some places it doesn’t matter too much but where it really does is the characters’ names.

And that’s the bit that has thrown me the most, because as I’ve worked my way through the first nine chapters I’ve felt a growing conviction that the name I have given to my main character is just wrong.

Which is a problem. You see he is the hero, and he needs a suitably heroic name. The one I gave him seemed, at the time, to be perfect. The first idea I had, the first scene I wrote, was about him and the name appeared right then. And I’ve lived with this guy for two and half years and it turns out that I didn’t know his real name. It’s a really strange feeling.

So I’ve changed it. It took me a while to think of the right one but when I did it felt like that was the real name all along. Find and replace on Word and 1,477 changes later the deed is done. I feel much happier and, importantly, it reads better.

I think this has helped me gain some insight into the whole writing process. I feel like the right name was there all along and I just had to keep going until I found it, but at the same time if I’d waited until I got the right name before continuing writing I’d still be at the start of the book. On a bigger scale it’s like the book has been there all along and I’m now starting to see the true shape of it. I just have to keep working until its final form is revealed.


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