A new romantic comedy idea sunk its teeth into my brain last week and began gnawing like a feral hamster on crack.
A smart author would probably devote time to charting a detailed plot and analyzing the characters' goals, motivations, and desires. At the very least, she'd put some solid thought into her hero and heroine's names.
I opted to leave that to the housemates. I found one sipping coffee in the kitchen, and though I wasn't certain he was awake, I decided to pick his brain.
"I'm starting a new book this morning," I informed him. "Name my hero and heroine."
He blinked at me. "Johnny Appleseed. Allie Alligator. Donald–"
"Allie, that's good. That'll work. I've never written an Allie before."
"Especially not with the last name Alligator."
"Right," I agreed. "I might have to change that. OK, now you have to name the hero."
He stared at me blankly for a minute, then looked down at his coffee.
"Hold that thought," I told him. "I have to refill the dog's kibble. You keep thinking."
"Kibble's a good name," he mused as he took a sip of something he probably wished was a lot stronger than Starbucks.
"I know!" I announced. "The hero comes from a big military family. How about a famous military name? Weren't you a history major? Here's a great chance to use that degree!"
He didn't look entirely enthusiastic about the opportunity, but began rattling off names anyway. "Custer. Patton."
"Too redneck. Too gay."
He frowned. "Ulysses?"
"As in Ulysses S. Grant?" I tried to remember eighth grade history class and whether Ulysses S. Grant had a history of beastiality. "Grant's good. I don't think I've written a Grant."
I thought about it for a second as I scooped kibble into the dog's dish. By the time I set the bowl back on the floor, my mind was made up. "Allie and Grant. I like it. Those are my characters' names. Thank you."
He nodded. "I still like Kibble better."
"I know you do."
So there you have it – the new characters I'll be getting to know shortly. I hope I didn't spoil anyone's notions about the hard work and creativity that goes into naming romantic comedy protagonists.
If you're a writer, how much thought do you give to your characters' names? For the readers among you, how much of a difference do names make in your perception of a story? Please share!
I'll be hard at work crafting the fate of Allie Kibble and Grant Patton.