A couple of days ago we discussed how Sparrow, the lead character in The Diary of a Nobody, got his name. I’ll tell you something, the naming of characters is very important to a novelist. Names must be appropriate to the status and station of the person. Their correct pronunciation must be immediately clear. They must not be tedious or annoying and spellings must be common. This is not an opportunity for a writer to show how clever he is. I want you to like my characters and you are not going to do that if these rules are violated.
With these rules, you might think good character names take time and no small amount of grief to come up with. Nothing is further from the truth and it is rare when the name I want doesn’t immediately present itself. And it doesn’t have to be a full name, either. Sparrow doesn’t have a first name and neither do Lenny and Larry from The Regular Guys. They were never needed. In Lenny and Larry’s case the first chapter I wrote was well into the book when their last names would have already been established so I referred to them as Lenny and Larry, but when I started writing the first chapters I found last names weren’t needed.
In fact, in the book I am writing now, Criminals, Courtesans and Constables, the protagonist doesn’t have a name at all, a technique I stole from a really good book called Rogue Male by Geoffery Household. As with every aspect of writing a book, writers must trust their instincts when naming characters and not force anything.
In today’s Diary of a Nobody Sparrow takes the lawn mower to the repair shop, then ties out the new restaurant in the small town. Then he reads and starts to nod off before heading in for a shift at the retailer.
There was not a Thought for the Day on this date, so we pulled a Thought for the Day from Churchill from earlier this year for you.
On This Date
In 1868: The impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson ends with Johnson’s acquittal by a single vote in the United States Senate. Johnson had been acquitted of three of the eleven charges, after which the trial was adjourned.
In 1959: In one of the great feats in sports history, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws 12 perfect innings in Milwaukee against the Braves. He will lose in the 13th inning, 1-0, on an error, a sacrifice, a walk and double.
In 1962: Mr Acker Bilk becomes the first British act to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with Stranger on the Shore. It remained #1 for one week, would be Billboard’s biggest hit of 1962 and is still the biggest selling instrumental song in British history.
Many thanks for reading,