Ann Parker here, musing over the February post of PPP author Charlotte Hinger, How to Keep Track of Characters. It’s a great post, and I encourage you to take a look if you didn’t catch it first time around (or if you need a refresher).
Oh how I wish I’d read her post before I was deep into What Gold Buys (book #5 in the Silver Rush series, which will emerge into the light of day and dark of night come September 6, 2016, woot!).
If I had, and I’d created an equivalent of her “Master Albright Series People Tracker,” I might not have ended up with a story that included characters named Abe, Antonia, Ace, and Alexander (augh!!). I might have avoided conversations between Epperley and Elliston. I wouldn’t have Brown, Balcombe, Burton, and Bob bumping into each other. Flo and Françoise (two women at opposite ends of the social spectrum) wouldn’t be trading frosty glances across the gutter (ahem) of a page spread.
Strange, how in life, this sort of thing happens all the time but doesn’t particularly raise eyebrows as it does in fiction. For instance, in a local mystery reading book club (which I head up in a very-non-dictatorial fashion), there are three, maybe four Anns/Annes (pick your favorite spelling). Back in the day, when I took my (then infant) son Ian to a “baby and me” get-together, I was startled and fascinated to learn that of the 12 babies in the room, five of the boys were named Ian. What were the odds???
Of course, if I were going to be true-to-life (1880s style), most of my female characters would be Mary (with a sizable smattering of Elisabeth, Ann, and Sarah), and most of the male characters would be John or William (with a James here or there).
Better to follow Charlotte’s lead and get busy on a name file for Book #6, so I’m not stumbling about while naming names…