Looking Back

So I’ve been working on revisions for my current WIP, Varying Degrees of Blame, a young adult contemporary novel. I have a notebook for each story I write where I keep notes and ideas. I’m not a big plotter, but I do a little of it. Or character sketches. Or whatever.
On the first page of the notebook for my current story are two names. Zander and Kylie. Originally, Zander had been my boy mc, and some of my beginning notes use that name. I don’t remember why, but I ended up using Christian instead. And now when I look back, I’m like, Zander—that is so totally not right. It doesn’t seem to fit him at all.
Which is funny because I can’t really tell you what Zander looks like. It’s just not the boy in my story.
Most of the time, once I’ve chosen a name for my mc, I stick with it. Secondary characters names may change, but rarely a main one. And I wish I could remember why I changed Zander’s name to Christian.
But now I’m curious if others do this. Have you ever gone back into your old notes and seen where you’ve changed the name of your mc, and does that original name just seem foreign now? So much that you wonder what you were thinking almost using that name?
Or is it just me?

5 Responses

  1. This reminds me of naming our baby! We had a list of four names we loved and a few minutes after he was born we basically just picked one (Digory!) as we couldn’t choose between them. Now, it seems so unlikely that he could ever have been anything else! Of course he’s Digory, how could he be any other name? I haven’t had quite this experience with characters, but I have occasionally named a character but found it impossible to stop referring to them by some other name instead, and ended up changing their name to the one they clearly “wanted” to be!

  2. I probably would change names now, if I went back and looked at old stuff that I never finished. But my current process more or less requires that I know my MCs very well and I generally can’t and don’t start writing until I’m sure of them—including their names.

    Chloe’s comment reminds me that we had settled on Joseph, Joss for short, for our youngest child. But when he was born my husband said, “He doesn’t look like a Joss.” I asked, “What does he look like?” And my husband said, “A Rob.” So we named him Robert. And now I just can’t see “Joss” in Rob at all . . . But did he pick the name or did the name shape him? Or is it a little of both?

  3. Kimberly Gabriel

    I absolutely do this, which I also find weird. I, too, usually get hooked on a name and stick with it. But every now and again, I have to switch it part way through my novel. I’m still not sure if I’m satisfied with my boy MC’s name. For him, I have to get to know him a bit better before I commit. The boy MC names are so much harder than the girls’ names for me.

  4. I agree with you, Christian just fits. Isn’t it funny how names can be so communicative of character? I think Hazel was Finley. I loved the name, but decided it didn’t really match the other character names. Plus, it was just awkward to write when I was writing Hazel. Quinn was something else, too, but I can’t remember now what exactly it was.

    This go round, I’m leaving most of the new names out of it. The Pixie Queen will be referred to by name, but she’s referenced in the first draft by PQueen, PQname, PQ… I just don’t want to try to figure it out right now.

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