Shakespeare famously said 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet'.
Well, sorry Will, but I respectfully disagree. There are very few things that frustrate me more when reading a piece of historical fiction than a badly named character. Take my word for this; in Regency London, you would not have found a lord styling himself 'Brad', no matter how deliciously rakish he might be, and no Victorian lady of good breeding would ever be christened 'Crystal'.
I swear, I've sighed over many a novel that I've come across that has a wonderfully crafted and imaginative plot, yet horrendously misnomered characters. No matter how intriguing the tale sounds, if the main characters' names are going to jar with me every time that I read them, then the book will stay upon the shelf.
And that awareness is precisely why I go into absolute agonies over naming all my characters, even the smallest and most insignificant of them. Occasionally, a character will spring into my head fully-formed, a complete biography gloriously clear and the perfect name readily attached. More often than not, though, I have to sit down the day before starting a new story and, coffee pot at the ready, painstakingly hunt through dozens of websites doing research to come up with the perfect combination of names.
To me, finding the correct and appropriate names for all the characters is as crucial as taking the necessary time to scour for grammatical mistakes and typos. After all, you want your readers to emotionally connect with and believe in your characters. They're not going to do that, though, if every time that their name crops up on the page all they can think about is the impossibility of finding a Crystal or Desiree lacing themselves into their corsets and preparing for a night at the theatre with their lord (seriously, I've come across that painful example before).
Whilst I've got your attention, the completed novella 'Playing With Fire' is now available through Smashwords - the one that I blogged a teaser for last week. It's priced at $1.99, but all you lovelies can help yourself for free with coupon code UJ23D. All I ask if that if you enjoy it, please take a minute to leave a review; my ego (amongst other things!) loves to be stroked...