Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What about last names? (or OMG ENGAGED!)

Tip of the day: If you are going to travel south for a winter vacation, be prepared with many books for the inevitable airport delays. My vacation reading this past week? FALLEN by Lauren Kate; BOYS, GIRLS & OTHER DANGEROUS MATERIALS by Rosalind Wiseman; SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See; and ALL UNQUIET THINGS by Anna Jarzab.

To come up with a character's first name, I mainly go with my first instinct of whatever name jumps into my head. When I'm "forced" to change it bc it ends up being too similar to another character's name, then it is hard for me but I'm usually not that committed to a name. I just have to remember to keep using the new name.

But for last names, I have more trouble. A last name can signify a family heritage, which can then imply a certain look, attitude, family, and friends for your character. I tend to stay away from last names for my main characters that sound Italian bc I don't want them to be character versions of me. I seem to pick "generic" sounding last names bc I honestly don't refer to a character's last name that often.

For my current WIP, I realized that I needed a last name for my MC that would be used more often than in my other books, and something that could sound a bit more "fancy" for her TV stint. So she is now Lilly Aubendale. Her best friend is Marisha. And yes, I stole the first names from my coworkers who I think are partly flattered and partly like "OK, my boss is weird."

But going back to last names, um, I may be changing mine.... My manpanion bequeathed me with a diamond while on vacation! Woo hoo! His last name is still very Italian so I feel like my "heritage" and Sicilian identity would still be intact. But it's kind of like changing a character's name when you hit page 200 of a book. Can you re-identify yourself with a new name like you can with a character?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


Jen said...

I've never thought about having trouble with last names, though with certain characters I already have a last name that is perfect for the book, and the situation! I love to see different struggles as writers, proves none of us are alike! All of us are unique!

Emily Marshall said...

And OMG, way to sneak in that last paragraph!!! Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't wait to hear all about it this weekend.

Emily Marshall said...

And in terms of a new last name, I have to admit that even though I've fully accepted my last name in the past ten years and identify with it now. Every once in a blue moon I accidentally start writing my maiden name and I have the worst time with signing my name. Something about the "s" after the "r" always makes me mess up. You'd think I'd get it write, but I never do. And it's funny how that is so totally like characters. Because I often change names and accidentally start writing the old names without realizing it.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Deena!!! Congratulations!! So happy for you two!

Kristina Springer said...

WhoooooooooooooHoooooooooo!!!! Yay!! Congrats!! And OMG, I think I'm psychic because I had a vision of you telling me on Fri that you are engaged. Whoa.

Kate Fall said...

Congratulations! Changing my last name was like changing a character name. I think my "married" name fits me better now!

DeenaML said...

Thanks, everyone!

Jen -- I hope some day last names come to me the way first ones do. I always have to go back through my ms to see what I picked as last names! :)

Em and Tina -- will share stories this weekend. The snow better let up for Friday!

Anonymous said...


Jenn Hubbard
(posting as anon b/c OpenID acting up again)

Manina said...

So if you name a character after someone you you find yourself thinking of that actual person and their character traits/personality when writing your book character?? I think you should put my name in one of your books! :)

Congrats on the engagement. Your new last name will take some getting used to :)

DeenaML said...

Jen H -- Thanks! And your bookmarks were snatched up at my lib!

Manina -- your name is awesome. I don't know if I could do it justice but I might try. :)

Rhonda Stapleton said...