I'm the type of writer that needs to know everything before I start. I've always been like this. Even in college, I'd sit and percolate the ideas for a paper until I could see the whole thing stretched out before me, then sit down and write page after page in long, draining sessions. I wasn't procrastinating. Really. I had a system.
My dissertation went about the same; I knew the whole shape of it and all of the pieces before any one of the chapters started making sense individually. The chapters I wrote before I knew the whole shape were just long, rambling messes.
I'm simmering a new story now. It's going to be a love story about ghosts that aren't really ghosts and dreams that are realities. I can see most of my characters--what they look like, even what some of them sound like. But I just don't know what their names are.
It's insanely frustrating.
I have the name of one or two minor characters, but that's about it. And I'm talking seriously minor.
Some might say I should just write and use XX or something for a place holder, but I just can't function like that. Names are important. They shape who we are and how others approach us. For characters, they're essential parts of their existence. J. Alfred Prufrock couldn't have been a Jones any more than a Snopes could have been anything else. And a regency novel with a Jason or a Jessica just totally kills the mood for me.
Both of my boys had names moments after the ultrasound lady pointed the little arrow on the screen at their boy parts. I felt like they needed to be called by a true name then, at the very beginning of their story, and I feel like my characters need their names now, before I really begin theirs.
So I'm playing the name game. Want to help? Here's what I need-- Guy's name, vaguely French and a girl's name, preferably something that has a historic ring to it (her brother's name is going to be Thomas Jefferson).Should yours be picked and I become the next Stephanie Meyers, I promise to plug your name shamelessly in every interview I give. Fame and fortune via my coattails could be yours.
Just as soon as I get the stupid manuscript started.
How do you come up with your character's names? Did you invest in a baby name book? Does inspiration magically come to you? Or are you one of the lucky ones that can write with holes?