With my feet propped up on my desk, and a legal pad in my lap, I study the list I’ve written on it. The creak of crutches behind me expels a sigh from me. “Do you have to do that?”
“Hey, you said I’d be on crutches all through the story, so I thought I’d practice,” the character in my upcoming airline thriller, Blamed, said.
I go back to contemplating the list.
“You know, it’d be easier to pace on these if that dog wasn’t lying in the middle of the floor.”
My faithful friend, Hunter, lays nearby as he always does when I’m at my desk. “Get used to it. You’ll have a golden retriever in the story.”
“Really? Cool. I like dogs. Have you named it? Or is it nameless like me?”
He tests speaking the name. “Casey. All right. That works. So what are you thinking for me? Since I’m a pilot, it should be something distinguishing. Like… Buck Teager.”
I shake my head. “That’s too close to Chuck Yeager. Besides, your first name will be Bill. It’s the last name I’m having trouble with.”
Bill stops his pacing. “Bill. Okay. That works. But why Bill? Seems pretty common.”
“I’m using my late brother in-law’s name. He too was a pilot.”
“Bill it is. Let’s test out what you’ve thought of. Run them by me.”
Luckily, no one is home to hear me having this conversation, or I’d probably be locked up in a mental ward. But I’m sure every novelist would understand letting a character assist with choosing their name.
“Here’s what I’ve thought.” I hold the pad up. “Kopp.”
Bill scrunches up his nose. “Kopp? Bill Kopp? Think about it. In the story I’m in an airliner accident. Won’t people think I should have kopped to it?”
“Yeah, you’re right.” I run a line through the name. “How about Wilde?”
An eyebrow is lifted. “Isn’t an airline pilot supposed to be a buttoned-down rational person? Not a wild Bill?”
“Good point.” Another name gets crossed off. “Wilbur. No, forget that one. One of the Wright brothers was named that. Butler.”
“Bill Butler. Who probably would have the nickname, BB. Seriously?”
“Hadn’t thought of that. Then I can scratch off Bower too. Hunter.”
“Your dog’s name? Wow, your imagination is amazing.” Bill rolls his eyes.
“How about Egan?”
“Egan? Bill Egan.” Bill looks like he’s tasted something bad. “I suppose, if you’re really set on it.”
“Fine. You come up with one.”
“Let’s see.” He resumes pacing with the crutches. “Mid-fifties. Pilot. Do I have a sense of humor?”
He stops and smiles. “Kurt.”
“Like James T. Kirk?” I shake my head.
“No, Kurt. K-U-R-T. But the similarity could be a joke. Since I’m an airline captain, my rank and name probably will be spoken a bunch of times throughout the book. Captain Kurt. It could be a little joke.” Bill lights up. “Hey, I could even say in the story at some point that my mission is to boldly go where no airline has gone before.”
I chuckle. “If that thought was interjected during a serious moment, it might give some levity to the scene.”
He’d nodding. “See. It’s a good choice.”
“Yeah, but… Kurt is too close to Kirk. How about Kurz?”
With his hands held in front of him like he’s making a frame, he says, “Bill Kurz.” He gives a nod. “Not bad. Close to Kirk so the line will work, but still unusual. Works for me.”
“Bill Kurz it is.”
“Am I married?”
I type Kurz on my list of character’s names. “Yeah.”
“What’s my wife’s name?”
“That’ll be a possible topic for another blog.”
If you want to read what Bill’s experienced in Blamed, it will be published in December 2016.
Writers, do you have these same conversations with your characters?
I don’t even want to say the number of times I’ve been caught talking to my characters. Sometimes I even let them write the scenes. In my “Pangaea” novel, I have them sitting around a campfire in the jungles of Brazil. I have no idea what to do next. Finally one of them says: We have visitors and nods to the presence standing at the gate of the stick enclosure. They (the characters) ran with the story for almost another three chapters and as one beta reader stated, it kept her glued to the pages. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I do lose the battle when fighting with my characters… which is nothing like fighting with myself and losing – which would be awkward.
Don’t you just hate it, Bob, when you have a great idea of how the story should progress, but the characters revolt and take over? Happens to me all the time.
Thanks for commenting.
Hahahaha! Yes, my characters speak to me, but I can’t say I’ve ever talked back. If I ever do, at least I’ll be in good company. Save me a place in that mental ward!
Would your prefer a single room, or have a roommate at the ward? Bill says hi.
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