Changing Character Names

Now that I am dabbling in the area of novel-writing, I can understand a bit about why authors change the names of their characters. Sometimes it takes a while to settle on a name that fits the character’s personality and that doesn’t conflict with other names you use throughout your story.

Sometimes you decide to change the name right away and sometimes it takes a while before you realize the name isn’t working. When you change a character’s name, always, always do a search to find all instances of the original name so you make the change in all places.

I can’t tell you how many novel manuscripts I see that have a random name or two tucked in here or there. In chapter twelve, I might come across a new-to-me name and wonder, “Who is that?” Come to find out, it was the name the author originally used for one of the characters.

Another name-related mistake I see is using the same name for two different characters. If the jail warden is Sam Jenkins, it can get confusing if you give a main character’s next door neighbor the name Mrs. Jenkins. And you want to avoid using the same given name for two characters unless there is a reason.

If you have changed names of individuals or place names, pet names, store names, etc. in the process of writing your novel, be sure to use the “find and replace” feature in your word processing program to make sure you have not left a reference to “Patsy” when her name is now “Gwen,” for example.

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