Saturday, January 17, 2015

What's in a name? More than I thought.

I'm working on a new manuscript - a new adult, chick-lit novel with a paranormal twist (of course!) I have a basic outline of the plot. A fun, spunky secondary character is taking solid shape. The love interest's voice is clear and strong. There's just one tiny, itty bitty piece of the puzzle that I'm missing: the main character. More specifically: her name.

Right now I'm calling her Natalie. She's already been Hannah, but that name was so wrong I couldn't bare to keep typing it. Neither name belongs to her. They're just place holders until I finally figure her out. She's polar opposite from strong, visceral, impulsive Tanzy, or at least the Tanzy she becomes by story's end.

I haven't bonded with my new cast of characters to the extent of the bond I formed with Tanzy, Jayce, Vanessa, Asher, and Lucas. And how could I? I first met Tanzy back in 2009 - and back then her name was Holly. Then Rynn. And then a Google search for name meanings unearthed the perfect fit: Tansy (I swapped the S for a Z) which is a Greek name, and means "immortality". Once I figured out her name, the rest of her became more obvious. And as she developed, the plot became richer and deeper.

Here we are, six years later, and I'm roughly five rounds of edits away from saying a final farewell to these characters who have become utterly authentic in my head, and who helped me fulfill a dream.

For now, it feels like my new main character and I are sitting across from each other on a first date. She's only letting me see the surface. Her smile is practiced. Her manners are on point. I haven't figured out what's really going to brass her off yet. And until I know what she cares about - what she deeply, wholly, irrationally defends - this new story is going to be just as skin-deep.

I think it's going to take the entire first draft to figure her out. I hope I do. Without her, the story will have no heart, no organ beating meaning and purpose and cohesiveness to the other parts. So who are you, not-Natalie, not-Hannah? One thing's for sure. You are not a cheap date.