Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The other day I was going through some of my papers I'll be donating to the de Grummond Collection in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. My stories go through so many revisions that I forget about some of the changes along the way. One change I'd forgotten about was that Rose, the main character in Part of Me, was originally named Pie.

I'd met a teacher years ago that told me her daughter's nickname was Pie. I asked how her daughter earned that name. She said, "We called her that because she looked just like a pumpkin pie."

Her daughter identified so much with the name that later she made it her legal name. A name like Pie makes me think of a care-free spirit who loves to laugh. What a perfect name for the performer that she became.

I knew I'd use it in a future book. Until the other day, I'd forgotten that Pie was the original name for the main character in Part of Me. But as I wrote, I felt in conflict about my choice. Pie just didn't fit her. She was serious and a worrier. She became Rose. And when she did, she started to become a more developed character. Other traits about her emerged. I would never have discovered those had I not changed her name. And as an extra bonus, Pie was the perfect fit for her fun-loving younger sister.

In an earlier post, I mentioned the board with my character's names hanging in my office. Those names also appear in my notebook. By the time the story is finished some of the names will have changed. A name has to fit. Getting the name right helps me create the character. Above I show the page I found that reminded me of this point. (To enlarge, please click on the image.)

What's in a name? Sometimes everything you need to discover a character.

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