Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Character Names (Express Yourself)

After doing some blog catch up, I stumbled across the Express Yourself weekly meme. And because it's weekly, there are posts each week to let bloggers get to know you, and your work a bit more. Sounds fun, right?

This week's question is,
Character Names: What was your process for acquiring it?

I've already talked about why Claire is named Claire in After Elizabeth, but I'm not sure I've touched on Allie in My Sister's Memories, so here's that story.

I have bad hat hair. Allie looks awesome.
At work they called her Little Allie, because there was Ali, and Allison, and Allie. We needed a way to get everyone correct because if you said the name, "Allie" you could be referring to one of several. She was the youngest crew member, and though she was young, she was wise beyond her years.

"Big Ali or Little Allie?" people would ask when you said the name.

Then everyone would be on the same page.

I knew of her but I didn't really meet her until I started working more at the store. If she was working on the same level that I was, I would read her chapters/paragraphs of the novel I was working on. "That sounds great!" she'd say, and I'd beam.

One night, she and her best friend, Jenna, came over. "Hey, you write, right?"

"Um, yea..." I answered.

"Would you mind reading our college entrance essays?"

"Sure!" I said, and got to work.

Allie's essay was honest for someone so young. It talked about being straight edge and why that's so important to her. As I read her words, it reminded me a lot of me when I was her age (you know, outstanding kid and all ;) ). I gave her back her edits, and she sent her submission off.

From then on out, Allie, Jenna, and I became friends.

Me, Ana, Jenna, and Allie
She was in attendance when I did an open mic night, I was invited to her open house, I visited her at her college, and she once helped tow me and an idiot boyfriend out of a sand bar.

"Let's be pen pals!" she suggested before she left for college.

"That sounds awesome!" I agreed.

Well, she wrote me a letter, sending me a button saying, Train Wreck, on it...and well...I never wrote back.

When things went downhill, Allie was the first one I freaked out on as she and her sister sat on my couch. Then in a psycho-like fashion, I peer pressured her to come to someone's house where I lost it on him, too. She then sat with me on a beach access in the middle of the night while I bawled my eyes out watching the moon dance on ocean waves.

I felt the stairs shake before she said anything. "You're cold?"

"Do you mind if we leave?" she asked in shorts and a t-shirt in the chilly October night.

I wiped the tears away and stood to drive home.

As I left the island, she and her sister were the last people I saw in the state of North Carolina.

In the following months, Allie was on the phone after something really bad, or something really good happened. I snowboarded on the phone with her, moved across the country on the phone with her. And this year, at long last, we are finally pen pals. (I've actually been writing back this time :) )

I love Little Allie like a sister. She's my BFF. I try to give advice when I can (still reminding her that I'm more of a train wreck than a role model), and watch out for her. Because of this, when I needed a name for the little sister in My Sister's Memories, Allie was the first thing that came to mind, and it fit with her personality pretty well.

So that's why Allie is Allie.

How do you guys come up with your character names?


  1. You're very lucky to have met someone that special. With that much feeling behind a character name, the MS will have to turn out wonderful. :)

    1. I think it did, now if only I could convince the agents :)

  2. This is awesome! I just pick names because they sound good to me and seem to fit the character, but I like how deep you've gotten here. Seriously awesome!

    1. Thanks, J.A.! I think the best way I can thank my friends for all they've done is give their name to a character in my book, so 90% of them have stories :)

  3. That's such an awesome story. I don't have any character names with that much history, but I love your story behind this. Allie sounds like an amazing person. :)

    1. Allie is wonderful :) And thanks for the compliment :):) I like smileys...sorrry

  4. My general method for character names is to decide what I want to be the distinguishing characteristic of the character and, then, look up names that mean what that is. That way the names are a bit symbolic, -and- I don't just have to think of something, because, honestly, I hate trying to think of names.

    1. I've considered that! Or like, the baby name books and finiding powerful names from other cultures and stuff. I hate thinking of names, too. It's the hardest part of the job :)

    2. Well, many of the websites that allow you to look up names by meaning will also tell you which culture the name is from. Unfortunately, the best site I had for the is gone :(

  5. Love that story!
    Thanks so much for joining our Express Yourself Meme! :D

    1. Thanks for doing the meme! I'm glad I came across it!

  6. Thanks for joining EYM! This story is AMAZING! It really makes me reflect on my friendships with people.

  7. Wow! I feel this same way every time I visit your blog and read your writing. *every* time. Seriously! I love your blog and your writing and your stories and your naming process!!!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. This comment completely made my day. Thank you very, very much :)

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