Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What's in a name?

Thursday, I will be blogging at Deadly Vixens. The topic will be ex-boyfriends and how and where they can show up in your writing.

Today, I'm going to talk about a problem that often comes up for me...making sure I don't keep repeating the same names or the same first letter of character names. This one is tough for me. A couple of years ago, I wrote a few chapters of a medieval romance with paranormal elements. My heroine's name was Astrith. Her father's name was Alden. Her brother, who died several years before the story begins, is named Alaric. And each one is important to the story to some degree. But, talk about problematic for a reader. I contemplated changing Alaric to Eric, but I still couldn't figure out what to do with Astrith and Alden.

My novella, Secrets Uncovered, is an altered version of a story I wrote in high school. The theme is the same in the two stories, but the plot is different and Secrets Uncovered is three times longer. But, my subconscious mind had a definite idea of who the characters would be in these stories. In my high school story, the heroine's name was Elizabeth and nicknamed Eliza. The hero's name was Jared. The best friend's name was Margaret. In my current novella, the heroine's name is Elena (short for Eleanor) and the hero is Jamie and the best friend is named Melissa. Even the annoying secondary character has a similar name. I had a character named Constance in the first story and in Secrets, the other woman is named Cherise.

And, recently, I had an idea for a fantasy romance series set in a medieval world. The heroine's name is Eleyne/Eleyn. I wanted something like Helene, but I may use that name for an older story idea I had, so I looked up Medieval names and came up with Eleyne. But, doesn't that look and sound a lot similar to Elena?

I have this odd connection to heroines whose names start with an E or an A. I just can't seem to help myself. But, in order for my stories to be effective, I have to help the reader. Which means I can't keep overusing the same names!

Do you find you have favorite names or name sounds that pop up over and over? Did you ever read a book that you could have really enjoyed if it weren't for the fact that too many characters had similar names?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What do you love about your hero?

My first polished historical romance novella, Secrets Uncovered, is a Victorian piece about an American widow who journeys to England with her best friend in search of a man she thinks is her father. Along the way, she meets a sexy earl--Jamie Davenport, Earl of St. James--who cannot seem to take no for an answer. He teases and provokes her at every opportunity and catches her doing things that a proper lady would not do.

In the past, I've written stories and lost my momentum somewhere in the middle. No matter how much I wanted to write a long, intricate piece, it just wouldn't happen. And, I could not get myself to edit and revise.

Something happened with this book. Namely Jamie Davenport. When I did not know what to write, when I was frustrated, when I was unsure or when I was bored, Jamie was there, convincing me to keep writing. To keep putting his words on the page.

There's that old cliche that romance authors fall in love with their heroes. I suppose it is true. I have heroes of mine that I've liked before, but I will admit that I love Jamie. He's quite demanding. In a good way.

What do I love about Jamie?

Besides those incredible dark blue eyes (I liken them to sapphires and the sea at dusk), I love the way that Jamie is completely sure of himself. He never doubts his abilities. There is an innate confidence and assertiveness that just emanate from him. It's a quality I've always wanted, but apparently, it seems to manifest itself most often in my books rather than my life. Jamie can be very patient, but he is always persistent. After three months of being somewhat ignored by the heroine, he is still as determined as ever to win her over. He doesn't have a concept that life won't bring him what he wants. He assumes that all it takes is a new tactic or more patience.

So, what do you love about your hero? Or, if you are not a romance writer, what do you love about your favorite film or literary hero?