Friday, May 6, 2011

by any other name (revised)

g'day gentle readers 

By any other name a rose would smell as a sweet - Shakespeare is both more verbose,

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet."

and wrong in one respect: character names; they come with baggage. Imagine if the bard had called Romeo some other Italian name, like Caligula. 

I've had this problem before. In book 2 "Face", Blade (derived from his home town Blades Point) was too kitsch so I moved him to Roden Crossing and he became Roden. Moving him became a plot line in its own right with endless repercussions. Then at the start of the work in progress book 3 "Arch". For various reasons (dealt with in earlier blogs - see "what the story needs" and "The writing comes first") a POV character named Lee became Ashford.

130,000 words - 25 chapters done.

As I approach the end of  "Arch" and review the earlier tomes in light of current invention I can see where changes need to be made. For example, I noted yesterday I need to upscale the size of the Arch from 75 feet to 2700 feet but I digress.

While I was inventing and adding new names, (for all the sleepers) I was again reviewed those I had. It struck me that I don't particular like Willard the name of the hero in book 1 "Break" who remains an important figure to the end of the trilogy. At the time of choosing, I was desperate to get on with the writing.
When you're at the start of what could be 600,000 words it is good to get a few thousand on the page - at times like that any name will do, just so you can keep writing - you know it can always be changed later.
One reason for my initial displeasure was the 1971 horror movie Willard. Hard to create a memorable character out of a name that is already memorable for a different reason - try giving your hero the name Romeo or Hitler or Jesus.

The other is that his short name Will is an annoyingly frequent real word. Since I write with a computer, the change will (there he is) be easy. A global search and replace will (and again) fix him up with a new name. (a careful one, of course - find whole words - case sensitive) but it won't fix his short name. Any sentence beginning with Will, will (strike three) be cobbled. "Will this do for example?" might become "Romeo this do for example?"

Track 7
But can I, me personally, do this. I have lived with his name as Willard for over ten years. (He was called Forrestar) Future readers will (there he is again) never know, they might come to know and love him as Fred or Purvis or Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III.(love that name Klaatu)

One advantage is, if I change his name now, I will have multiple revisions (in three vols) to get used to the  new one. (Any suggestions in keeping with my convention welcome - i.e. old English. Of my current characters, the names I like are: Kezia, Rowena and Hyatt - they sound science fictiony)
Of course the name change may not happen, it depends what works for me on the day which brings me to the prompt for this post about change.

A member of my writer's group said of my last post that I gave too much away. I think he means this bit:
The latest and biggest change has been a re-evaluation of the original plot. The AI made a mistake - bad data

the asteroid will miss
Methinks this maybe because in books 1 and  2 which he and the Blackwood Writers Group have already suffered through, the asteroid strike is the main plot driver. So as is fashionable these days - mea culpa - revealing all was not my intention. I was interested in blogging the process of writing the third book of a trilogy but I felt a little story background was necessary to make sense of the process. I admit, I got carried away - a bit.

However as the first part of this post shows, everything and I mean everything, the hero's name or the asteroid missing, is 

subject to change without notice.

The asteroid not striking does radically change the ending I had in mind but at this point of the story, this is what the characters (and hence the reader) believe, and that means their entire lives have been purposeless, (this is not a bad thing - story wise. It's the deep crisis point )

But I'm still about ten chapters from then end. If I get to there and it doesn't work I'll throw that idea an work in something else. It's probably harder to write this way but a lot more fun.


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