The character who was John Highlord when I started writing has been replaced with Thomas Soame, because I realized matters would work better if I used an alderman who was also a member of Parliament later on, and both of them are minor enough figures that they don’t rate entries in the DNB. (Ergo, I can make stuff up and not worry too much about somebody knowing I’m wrong.)

So I ask you: why, pray tell, does my subconscious want to insist that Thomas Soame wouldn’t talk the way I had John Highlord do? Why does it object to him being broad-shouldered? Everything I know about both of these men would fit into a paragraph shorter than this one, and it consists of a handful of dates regarding their public service. I don’t know what they looked like. I don’t know what their personalities were. Yet my subconscious resists the swap.

This, chickadees, is why naming is sometimes a giant problem for me. If I don’t find the right name, I often can’t write the character, and it’s like pulling teeth to change a name once it’s settled in. Some bit of my brain decides nobody named Thomas Soame could possibly be a blunt-spoken, broad-shouldered guy, and god only knows how long it will take to convince it otherwise.

This job would be easier if my brain were rational.

0 Responses to “imponderables”

  1. bryant

    Ever read (or watched) the Forsyte Saga? There’s a fairly non-broad-shouldered Soames therein.

  2. thespisgeoff

    It’s the adjacent S’s in his name that’s doing it, I bet. Makes him sound reptilian, and therefore neither broad-shouldered nor plain-spoken.

  3. shui_long

    This job would be easier if my brain were rational.

    You wouldn’t be able to do this job – certainly not do it so well – if your brain was wholly rational.

  4. mrissa

    Did I tell you about the character whose name I changed from Laura to Lucy? It was bad enough that I had to change her dialog, because things were just the tiniest bit off. Yes. That was plenty. What was worse was that my brain was not willing to let go of Laura’s existence: Lucy, certainly, was the one in the Finnish novels. But Laura! The dialog was only the tiniest bit off, the actions only slightly wrong. Why? Because Laura was Lucy’s sister back in Britain, and there is an entire unwritten novel outlined because my brain wouldn’t stop thinking, “Well, that’s fine for Lucy’s reaction, but I just don’t know what Laura is going to think when she finds out about this.” And then I did know. And then there was another book brewing.


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