If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.


In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Things Were Almost Called


I'm struggling (and failing) to come up with the best name to fit my main character.

My story is about a bank examiner in the early 1890s who finds corruption and murder at a bank. The title Impurple felt right to me. That was the code word some examiners used to indicate they were leaving immediately to take charge of a bank that had closed.

But the character's name eludes me. Should he be called John, William, James, George, Charles, Frank, or Henry? None of these popular names during the era strikes me as quite right for the character I have in mind.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who has trouble naming things. There have been some close calls where things were almost given regrettable names.

Imagine telling a friend, “Let’s grab a Pequods.” It doesn’t have the same ring as, “Let’s get a Starbucks.” But, co-founder and writer, Gordon Bowke, originally wanted to name the company Pequod after Captain Ahab’s whaleship in Moby-Dick. Ultimately, the name of the ship’s first mate, Starbuck, was chosen. An “s” was added at the end because a consultant thought that’s how people would say it.

Some movies originally had different working titles. Here are a few examples from Salon.com:

·         Clockwork Orange was originally titled Chocolate Orange

·         Casablanca was called Everyone Comes to Rick’s

·         For some reason, Cloverfield was originally called Cheese

·         Annie Hall was originally titled It Had to Be Jew

·         Psycho started out as Wimpy

According to Mental Floss, several names originally considered for our beloved Nancy Drew were Stella Strong, Diana Drew, and Helen Hale. Scarlett O’Hara was originally named Pansy and didn’t receive her iconic name until just before the story went to print. Thankfully, Arthur Conan Doyle changed the name of Sherlock Holmes’ assistant from Ormond Sacker to John H. Watson.

Some authors of classic literature had trouble choosing the best title for their books, too. It took a few tries until they hit upon the perfect name. While procrastinating my own naming dilemma I created a short quiz for you using Huff Post and Mental Floss articles.

Can you match the title with what the classic book was almost called?

Title                                                                           Almost Called

1. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell              a. Something That Happened

2. Dracula – Bram Stoker                                         b. Trimalchio in West Egg

3. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell                c. Mistress Mary

4. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy                               d. Catch-11

5. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald                e. All’s Well That Ends Well

6. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett   f. Tote the Weary Load

7. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller                                      g. The Last Man in Europe

8. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck                       h. The Dead-Undead

9. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway              i. First Impressions

10. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen                     j. Fiesta

Answers: 1-f, 2-h, 3-g, 4-e, 5-b, 6-c, 7-d, 8-a, 9-j, 10-i

Is it sometimes difficult for you to choose the perfect name for your character or title of your story?

10 comments:

Paula Gail Benson said...

How different our memories might be! Good luck, Kara, on finding that perfect character name. Remember, Scarlett was Pansy in the original manuscript. When I told my law clerk that, he told me frankly, he did not give a damn. I told him he would have if he had to make the name changes without replace all!

Kara Cerise said...

Funny, Paula! I can only imagine how time consuming a name change must have been without replace all.

I'm watching an old black and white Agatha Christie movie called "Ten Little Indians." I believe the title of that classic whodunit has changed a few times since it was written.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I suspect the authors thought they had a good title and someone else overruled them. I also suspect that we might still know the same books by their earlier titles had those prevailed.

I don’t fuss a lot about character names, although I did take time to determine Seamus McCree’s last name. I wanted it to be Irish, real, but uncommon so if you type in Seamus McCree in a search engine, my character will show on page one of the results.

I want a name to be appropriate – or have a good reason for not being (which is part of the character’s history).

Good luck in finding a name for your character that you are comfortable with.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Kara, I only got five right out of the ten, but I dithered over some.

People names aren't as much of a problem for me, but the title change of my first book made a difference in helping me with titles for my next book. Originally it was Murder at Elmwood Gardens, but then at a Seascape Writers retreat I went to, Hallie Ephron didn't care for the title and at the large group discussion on the last night she through out "The Blue Rose." since the blue rose is an important part of the plot. Everyone seemed to like it, and I did, too. Now all my books have if not a flower in the name, at least have a different flower on the cover.

Warren Bull said...

I have trouble remembering what name I've given characters. In an early draft of Tom Sawyer the young girl was named Betsy Thatcher.

Kara Cerise said...

Jim, how clever to choose a name thinking about about how it would fit your character as well as search engine results. I think Seamus McCree is a strong name because it's unique and easy to spell.

Gloria, a flower in the title and/or on each cover is perfect for your series! Seascape sounds like a terrific writing retreat.

Warren, I didn't know that Becky was Betsy in an early draft. It's a good reminder that names can change to better suit a character or because the writer forgets the original character name.

Shari Randall said...

I wonder who these consultants are who help name things. Starbuck's does sound better than Starbuck….
Be sure to keep us up to date on your naming quest, Kara. Maybe he is not destined to have one of the popular names of his time. Maybe his parents were determined to honor an ancestor or a place…then you can go back in time to find a name that you like better.
Hey aren't you supposed to be on a beach somewhere?

Sarah Henning said...

I totally agree with Jim on this one. I want a character's name to be appropriate or to have a good reason not to be. Sometimes characters have funny names just to be different or stand out and there's no explanation...and then it just looks like the author is trying too hard!

Good luck finding a name, Kara!

Kara Cerise said...

Shari, I like your idea about naming my character after an ancestor or using a less popular name.
Coffee tasting was Tuesday's mini-adventure since it wasn't the best beach weather.

Thank you, Sarah. That's good advice about naming this character (or any character) appropriately instead of trying too hard to make him stand out.

KM Rockwood said...

Sometimes perfect names show up unbidden, and sometimes nothing seems right.

I love your list!