We had a problem.
We had a serious and highly emotional meeting last night.
My characters got really loud - and yes really is absolutely necessary here - just like the adverb!
Turns out My two heros - well one is a hero now, the other is the antagonist this round but will get the hero part in book three. Anyway - they share the stage quite a bit and have for some time. And then someone shows up and asks ME if I don't get confused.
Me?! Why should I get confused?
I've known these guys since almost fifteen years now (they haven't aged a day) and know exactly who is speaking or thinking. But the question kickstarted my braincells. True - they had the same letter. They sounded different though. Alas, a writer fairy - called critter - pointed out that some readers are a lazy pack (huh?!) and only skim over the first letter of a name and assume they know who's in charge of the scene.
Am I the only one who reads names???
Well, since both these main characters have some heavy twists - and past lives with similar names - I decided we would carry that to the round table.
They got in a fit.
I mean who wants to give up a name he's carried all his life and that has been through so many things with him?!
One's royal. He tried to pull the I am the more important part.
Alas he's the bad guy now, so I told him to buzz off. He stared at me for the next two hours. Meanwhile the other one laid down all the reasons why HE couldn't change his name.
Since the first one still didn't talk to me, I turned to the others.
Turns out we had two families who name their kids all with the same letter. Well, I'm not gonna change that! Why? It helps me to know where each of these kids belong to for heaven's sake. And if you want to skim over their names, so be it. One of them always did it anyhow.
First guy started talking and declared he wouldn't want to be mixed up with the other anyhow. He came up with the most ridiculous names that just didn't feel right.
Finally - an hour later - we had it! Ok, he now sounds similar to a bad guy in a famous SF series, alas his problem. He agreed.
Back to family number two. Their kids now started with the same first letter as the guy. So we took them to the register and renamed all three - we still try to get used to the change. Of course now they had the same first letter as another character... Turns out until everyone had a name again that would work - half the cast was re-named.
(Shht - don't tell, but I think some of them I will need to kill soon now!)
Forgot one lady and since she has a minor role I simply attached a weird letter to her front and sent her off. She stormed out crying and sobbing that nobody values her work.
Only advice I can give YOU: Please think about the pitfalls here early on! Looong before you get too heavy in the story and characters develop - their names do grow on them!
Changing names once a manuscript is finished was a pretty hard venture - and I had to strike a few deals so some would agree. Good that there's a book two in a trilogy. You might see heroes I never expected to become one...
(Our round table lasted all day and some even pestered me during the night!!)
Further reads I recommend:
Name that Character by Anne Marble
How to pick Character names