Naming Issues; or Why Did You Call Me That?

As usual, as I plow through NaNoWriMo, character names are proving to be somewhat problematic.

For the most part, the new characters I’ve added so far have allowed themselves to be named without too much of a fuss.  One entire family, in fact, pretty much popped into my head and told me what their names were going to be.  The only outlier in that group is younger brother Lucas, whose cousin–definitely a Lucinda–may be too much of a “name twin” for him.  I may end up changing him to something else.  We’ll see.

I was reasonably happy with the name of Celia’s landlady, Hortense Herbert, who was widowed when her husband was eaten by a tiger during a visit to India.  Or at least, I was until I had her in a scene with diplomat Kel Herzhik, and it struck me that Herbert and Herzhik are too close together.  And because “Tarmanian” names are a bit of a pain to come up with, I didn’t want to change Kel’s surname (annoying as it is to type–darn those Tarmanian names, anyway!).  So I renamed the landlady to be Hortense Graham instead.  I think it still works.

My bigger problem stems from an issue involving two characters introduced in Book 1 of this series.  One appears near the beginning of the book:  “Mrs.” Lydia Chattisworth, the Matron of Women Students at the Royal Academy.  I thought it fit her well.

And the second is Nicholas’ little sister, Lillian Fletcher, who gets introduced about halfway through the book, and who was only ever supposed to have a minor role in that story, and then go off into hiding with her parents.  The name exactly fits my mental image of her, and I can’t imagine changing it at this point.

The problem is, on the way back from Tarmania, Celia and Lillian bonded, and Lillian decided to stay around.  Since she needed a guardian, and since Celia’s father, Dr. Winterbourne, had decided to stay on at the Academy campus, it made sense for him to be it.  Meanwhile, Dr. Winterbourne looked around and realized that the woman he really wanted was right there in front of him.  So Lydia became Celia’s step-mama.

Which means that Lillian and Lydia end up appearing in a lot of scenes together.  And when even I, the author, have a hard time keeping those two “L” names straight in my head, it means that one of them needs to change.

So it may be time for another “name the character” derby.

I have had two names suggested so far:  Flora and Suzanna.  But I’m not sure if they’re quite right.  The name needs to be a little stuffy-sounding, to reinforce Celia’s preconceptions about what a “matron of women students” ought to be like.  But it should also be sweet and romantic enough that you could imagine her husband whispering it as a sweet nothing in her ear.

I’ve been considering the following:

  • Abigail
  • Claire (not sure if the alliteration of “Claire Chattisworth” works, though)
  • Dorothy (is that too close to “Eudora”?)
  • Edwina (again, too much like “Eudora?)
  • Gladys (which I like on its own, but…”Gladys Chattisworth”?!?)
  • Louisa (again, possibly not enough differentiation from Lillian)
  • Margaret (but never Maggie!)
  • Matilda  (I do have a minor character named Tildy already, but she could be renamed.)
  • Rebecca
  • Winnifred (might be TOO stuffy)

Does anyone have any thoughts?  Opinions?  Suggestions?

In other words:  Help!


About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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