Tuesday, May 11, 2010
My name is ...
One of the things I had to do while editing was make one of my male characters more appealing. Trouble was I'd been writing about him for so long I couldn't get my initial image of him out of my head.
It occurred to me it was his name that was the problem. Names are so evocative, tending to conjure a certain type of person, and the name I'd chosen isn't one normally seen in chick-lit.
Okay, he wasn't called Pogo or Woopsie (apologies to any Woopsies reading) but I had invented a type of character to go with the name. In case any of you are ever daft enough the read the book - IF it ever gets published - let's say I called him Maurice.
Leading men are rarely called Maurice in romantic comedies. If they are you know they're going to be losers in love, gay or somebody's granddad. I might as well have written in ginormous letters "BY THE WAY, SHE'S NOT GOING TO END UP WITH HIM!"
I was reminded of a couple of films I've seen - can't remember their names, I think one starred Sandra Bullock - where the leading lady started out happily married or engaged to a rather non-descript actor I didn't recognise (I watch a LOT of films) and I knew immediately he would wind up dead or dumped in a very short space of time, and I was right - she copped off with Antonio Banderas (or whoever) in the end.
A small detail, but one that gave away quite a lot and I think my character's name would have had the same effect.
Just changing him from Maurice to Hunter-Gatherer (I jest but you get my drift) shifted my perception straight away and I was able to 'write' him more appealingly - I hope. No more Brylcreem and ham suppers with mummy for my man - no sireee.
Not that he was having ham suppers with mummy - I'm not THAT obvious.
As an aside, it's quite hard getting away from the usual names for leading men - Matt, Nathan, Jack, Zac etc.
Maybe we should start a campaign to bring Cyril, Bertrand, Norman and Keith back into fashion.