Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Naming Names

Way back when I wrote Wish in One Hand, I inserted a throw-off character.  Jo needed backup, Basil sent her some, and I didn't really think any of those people would ever show up again.  Hell, only one of them even had a speaking part.  I named him Lyle.  I'm not sure why I called him Lyle.  I'm not even sure why I named the dude at all.  He wasn't supposed to ever show up again.

Flash forward to Up Wish Creek.  There he is again.  (He never showed up in In Deep Wish.)  Except I don't use a name and he's just referred to as the big dude who came to save Jo's bacon back in book 1.  He's kind of okay.  He's one of Jo's supporters, which is cool, but he's not impressed with the way Jo has handled things, so he beats feet. 

Until he shows up in Wish Hits the Fan.  Tada!  There he is.  And he's got some major problems.  He's become a plot point. 

When I was writing the first draft, I called him Castor... and then Nestor... and then left it alone until I could finish the first draft because I ain't got time for no researching when I'm drafting.  I figured I could fix the name in edits.  And then, during initial edits, something occurred to me... Did I actually name this tertiary character already?? 

Which is when I discovered one spot in book 1 where Basil refers to the dude as Lyle. 


I posted about this on FB.  One person suggested that with such a minor character placed in the first book, it wasn't that important if I used the correct name in the fourth book.  Yeah, I could've gone that way.  Except I can't.  His name is freakin' Lyle. 

And his name is Lyle because I got lazy at some point during that first book and just threw down a name without thinking about it.  Yeah, I never dreamed back then that he would be critical down the road.  Derp.

In my defense, when I wrote Wish in One Hand, I had no clue I was writing a series.  I had hopes, but no firm 'yeah, this is BOOK ONE' in my head. 

So, look at this as a cautionary tale.  Names matter.  Even when you think they don't, they do. 

*I have nothing against the name Lyle, or I wouldn't have used it for even a throw-off character.  I just don't happen to think it's the right name for who he ended up being.  Then again, I've met a lot of people who have names their parents gave them that I don't think really suit them.  I guess Lyle has to live with the name his writer-mama gave him.  And you know something?  It's kind of growing on me.


  1. I remember Lyle! And I remember picturing him as Lyle Waggoner (from the Carol Burnett show) in my head. It all just fit. I'm glad Lyle is back. And I'm glad he's a thing in this book. :)

  2. Oh, and I need to send you a naming meme. *nods* LOL

  3. Maybe he was a Lyle back then, and now he's a Castor, or Nester, or whatever. People change their names. Rather than making him memorable because he's a left handed tuba playing cheat at canasta, make him memorable because there's a a one line reason for changing it, that gives him depth and pizzazz.