‘The Name Game’

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

Mama always told me I was different. As such, when I think up character names, I struggle, really really struggle to come up with names I feel evoke the emotion I want people to feel when they see their name on the page. I have a lot of very arbitrary rules on the matter and as such for the last year names for the characters in the novel I’m attempting to develop have been one of the most difficult things to figure out.

But today, I may have figured out the name of my heroine. Maybe. I like my current given name for her because it’s unique and yet feels familiar. The instant you read her name, you feel like you know her, like you’ve at least encountered someone like her at some point in your life. And, in a sense, her name is a tip off to her native personality — she’s a manic pixie dream girl at heart. But something happened that simply made that lifestyle impossible for her as the story opens.

And, really, that’s a key difference between my heroine and, say, the gold standard for these types of novels — Lisbeth Salander. Salander is just not a very likable person. Men love her because she’s a bad ass, but they probably wouldn’t want to, like, date her. Women like her because she’s strong, complex and dark, but they, too, probably wouldn’t want to be her friend — even if she was interested in such a friendly relationship.

But my Heroine is far different. She’s constructed such that she’s actually rather affable. She’s very focused, yes, and she can easily kick any man’s ass, but she doesn’t have Asperger’s. She’s just a normal young woman who’s had something very surreal happen to her and the story opens with us seeing how that’s warped an otherwise pleasant personality into something much darker and menacing.

I would like to stress, however, that this is all conceit. My writing generally is looked down upon and many people to date have thought it sucked so bad that I shouldn’t even do it to begin with. That’s why development has been so difficult and yet so important. Add to this situation that it’s happening completely in a vacuum and, well, you can begin to understand why it’s taken a year to get to even this point.

Shrug. Rock on.

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