G and the boys obediently gathered round while I explained the dilemma.
45,000 words into my WIP, a new character has come on the scene. His existence had been referred to in passing but, as is so often the case, I had no idea why I'd written him in. To prove the point, he'd just muscled his way into the narrative.
I knew who he was, knew a fair bit about his background, his impact on the other characters ... I even knew what he looks like.
But one thing was holding me up. I didn't know his name. Until I got that, I couldn't work out his full role - though it was only just occurring to me that he had one and it might be more significant than I'd realised.
I told G and the boys I needed a nickname, not a real one.
The men in my life rose to the occasion, bless 'em, firing random words at me. As fast as they came, they were rejected, including my own contributions.
'Switch,' First Born said.
He'd been looking round the room, calling out the names of anything he could see.
'Switch,' I murmured. 'Do you know ... I think that's it.'
Later, soaking in the bath, scene of so many writerly revelations, the metaphorical switch had literally been flicked and everything fell into place.
I could see all the way to the end of the book; knew almost exactly what was going to happen and how, could see the resolution, the narrative arc, the whole megillah.
It reminded me of when I was writing Trading Tatiana. There's a scene set in Greenwich Maritime Museum where Tatiana performs some impressive acrobatics to escape from her pursuers. We spent an entire afternoon at the Museum, checking out the scene I depicted from every angle and working out the logistics. Then we came home and re-enacted it with toys.
Writing is such a solitary pursuit, but occasionally it can be a family affair.
So ... I have some questions for you:
- How do you come up with names for your characters?
- Do you ever enlist other people's help to come up with names or sort out any other sticking points?
- Do you ever find a character has muscled their way into your narrative but you have no idea why until it suddenly becomes clear much later what their function is?
- Does that blow your mind??? (It does mine - and I love it.)