The Name Game
What’s in a name? Apparently quite a lot. Recently, I received editorial comments from my agent regarding my novel, GAME ON. Lots of work yet to be done, but the most painful comment: Change the names of my two main characters.
WHAT?! Is she kidding?
This is my first fictional work and these characters lived in my head for a year before they even made it to the page. They’ve been with me for nearly four years. Change their names?! Why I couldn’t possibly.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out here that one of my talented critique partners, another regular blogger on this site, pointed out months—okay, maybe years—earlier that my hero and heroine both had the same initials, therefore I should really change their names before submitting. Then, as is now, my reaction was no freaking way! That’d be like changing the names of my own two kids.
Enter my oh-so-adorable teenage daughter, delivering words of wisdom complete with an expertly executed eye roll: “Get a grip, Mom. They’re just words on a page. If you want to get the book published, change ‘em.”
Out of the mouths of babes, right? Or in my case, an insensitive 13-year-old.
To Google I went.
My agent questioned the identity of one of my secondary characters, too, asking whether the name, popular today, was prevalent fifty years ago when this character would have been born. Sure enough, one quick search and I discovered the name wasn’t even on the list of the 1,000 most popular names during that timeframe. Yeah, that’s why she’s earning money in this business and I’m, well, not. Okay, so the names will be changed to protect the manuscript—most of them anyway. 🙂
While I was researching names, I needed a diversion to dull the pain, so I had a little fun Googling my own first name. Of Irish and Gaelic origin, Tracy means “warlike”. Hmmm. I think my redheaded self will just leave it at that.
As I suspected, Tracy was one of the ten most popular names for girls born in the early 1960’s. Look around you, most of the Tracy’s you probably know, be they “y”s , “ey”s, or “i”s, are all probably straddling age 50. When my children were young, we lived in a neighborhood of 350 families and a whopping five mom’s were named Tracy. It was a rarity for me to be around so many women with the same name. My brother married a Tracy, but she’s of the “ey” variety. (We love her anyway!) But, I challenge you to find a person under the age of 25 with the name. Hey, if you’re reading this and you’re expecting, what about Tracy for your unborn child’s name? Warlike isn’t too bad. Just don’t ask my husband, okay?
How about you? Have you checked out the history of your own name? Any you’d like to suggest for my main characters?