How Do You Come Up With All Those Names?  October 2021             


   A friend of mine asked me the other day how I choose my character names. I find them in several ways.

   Sometimes, I pull them out of the air. Sometimes, I use the names of things around me. I chose one character’s name because I happened to have a Webster’s dictionary on my desk.

   The majority of the time I use the names of people I know. However, I never use a person’s real name. I change the names by using one person’s first name with another’s last name. There are times that I use the first name as the last name and vice versa.

   Let’s say that I know a person named John Baker and another named Amber Christian. I would use those names for characters by switching them around to Christian Baker and Amber Johns.

   There are two reasons that I change the names. The first is that my stories are fiction. The second, and most important reason, is that the new name gives the character a whole new personality and appearance from the original. That way I don’t find myself describing an actual person in an unflattering way.

   For example, I’ve been well acquainted with three women named Nancy. None of them fit the description of the character bearing that name in Coded for Murder. That character description came as a result of people watching.

   The character names in the Wilbarger County Series are taken primarily from the names of my high school classmates. Character names in Coded for Murder were primarily names from people I know in Amarillo.

   Lizzie Fletcher’s name came about as the result of researching my family history. I learned that my great, great, grandmother, Elizabeth Fletcher, was sometimes called Lizzie when she was young. Wade Adams began because I needed him to be a descendant of another character. Clay Adams was the combination of two of my nephew’s names.

   My son and his friend gave me the name Megan. They’d known someone who fit her description when they were in high school.

   I still have a few Amarillo names that I can use, but I’ll be out of classmate names by the time I finish the Wilbarger County Series. If we ever meet, your name could turn up in one of my books.

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