Sunday, August 25, 2019

Brought to You By the Letter S

I have a favorite letter. It’s "S." How do I know what my favorite letter is, you ask? Actually, the first question you probably have is, why do I know this—why would someone with bills to pay, and dogs to walk and work to do (you know, an adult) spend even a second of time pondering a favorite letter?
Because it keeps popping up despite my best efforts. I have to come up with probably twenty new names for every one of my books. Some of them are only minor characters. Others are even less than that; maybe I only mention them once. And without fail, the names that pop into my head usually start with S whether it’s for a person, place, or pet. And this isn’t good, because one of the cardinal rules of novel writing is not to do that. Names that look similar can be hard to keep straight, and I don’t want to accidentally confuse my readers. (I want to confuse them on purpose, with red herrings and deliberate misdirection.)
I have taken steps to decrease my dependency on the letter S. I keep a name journal (which I’ll get into for next week’s blog post), but the most immediately effective thing I’ve done to help name those minor characters, streets or businesses is to write out the alphabet. I put it on an index card and have it up against my desk lamp. 
My razzle-dazzle, high tech naming assistant.
I tend to be a very visual thinker, and seeing it listed out helps tremendously as I bat away the S names floating through my head and reach for something else. Hmm, haven’t used an F in a while, how about Frank? It’s totally rudimentary, I know, but it helps. Sesame Street would be proud.

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