When are character names too unusual?

caution tape over doorI seem to like the most unusual names for my characters. In an earlier novel I was working on I had a female protagonist named Hero. In Driftwood Island, I had Alley, as in the small side street. Along with her friends Cherry and Champaign. Even in Monster in the Basement, which out of all my books has the most average names,  I still had Archer Lee Grant Garfield Haversham the third. Though, he just went by Archer.

I’m not really sure why I like odd names for my characters. Maybe because I personally have such an average, forgettable name?


Like a tiny island lost at sea, is the character name way out there?

Whatever the reason, I often go tiptoeing along the borderline of “too weird to work” for my character names. And in the book I’m working on now, I have a character that is hanging on a cliff’s edge by a fingernail. At any moment, ready to drop into the “Just too weird to be believable” category.

He’s the co-protagonist and love interest, a snobby vampire librarian, and his full name is Saint Crispin Saint Paul Saint James. Of course, typing all that out throughout the manuscript would be a royal pain so he’s Crispin St. James for short.

I don’t know why, but part of me really likes the name. There’s something old fashioned, and formal about it. I can imagine that name popping up in a Shakespearian play. And another plus about it is I can’t think of a single other book character that has a name like Crispin. Original names stick out a bit, don’t they?

Then there is the question of, how much weird is too weird? To me a name like Saint Crispin Saint Paul Saint James isn’t that unusual, but to others, it might be way out there. It’s always a difficult balance between expressing your own artistic tastes and writing something readers would like. My rule of thumb is: Name them whatever the heck I want, and then let the Beta readers comment if they think the name is too distracting.

glass colors frame

Character names make things colorful!

How do you know when you’re being too artistic with your character naming? Have there ever been unusual names that you just loved but couldn’t use? Please share them in the comments area below.


Can off beat characters have romance?

broken heart

I’ve been struggling with this question for months now. The main character of the novel I’m currently working on is really off beat. She’s a former goth girl that got dumped by her vampire boy-friend and now she’s out for revenge. The only problem is she’s kind of an obsessive fan-girl klutz. She’s kind of goofy. But, I want her to find love and have her story have a happily ever after ending. It’s been a lot tougher to make that happen than I thought.

Here’s a few scene’s that I think really highlight her character.IMG_0194

It was Thursday morning and I was still in bed. I wasn’t going to get up for school today, I hadn’t gotten up for school yesterday or the day before either. I was wrapped in my gran-gran’s hand-made blanket that she had made, by hand, just for me. Because she loved me until the day she died. ‘Cause, that’s how love was supposed to be, damn it!

Someone knocked on my bedroom door. Good thing I was already facing that way, because I wasn’t interested in rolling over. My dad poked his head in.

“Honey, could we have a little talk?” he asked, “Me and your mom are kind of worried.”

Our talk went something like this,

Dad: “Honey, we really think you need to start going to school again.”


Dad: “Eep, Eep, Eep!” and he runs away.

#  #  #

Once I had the mug shots hung just the way I wanted them, I drew a bullseye in red marker over Robby’s big, fat face and then another bullseye over Crispin’s snooty, jerk face.

I pointed at both of them.

“You two are both going down. You thought you could mess with me? Think again!”

“You,” I said, jabbing a finger at the Robby photo, “You are going to cry, fall to your knees, and beg for my forgiveness.”

“And you,” I said, pointing at the St. James photo, “You are going to worship me when I become an all mighty vampire queen, and then you will scrub my floors.”

“Mwa ha ha ha!”

My mom popped her head into my room, “Honey, is everything alright in here?”

“It’s awesome!” I said, a huge smile spread across my face and I couldn’t stop giggling.

My mom’s eyes darted to the pictures hanging on the wall behind me and then to the shredded photo on the floor that I was standing on.

“Um, okay. . . . Dinner will be ready soon,” she said, then slowly backed out the door.

broken heart in two 3Needless to say, trying to find a way for my main character to change enough to fall in love with someone, but not so much that she doesn’t stay in character, has been a real problem. And to make my job even harder, I for some reason decided to make her love interest kind of a snobby jerk. Seriously, why did I decided to make a tough job even harder?

If I can make this story work, I think it will be a really fun book. It just has a lot of tweaking a head of it.

Have you ever had problem characters that just don’t seem to do what you wanted them to? Are you currently working on a story that you made more difficult to write than it needed to be? I’d love to hear about it! Please leave a comment below.

The Mummy re-write

caution tape over door

I recently watched the latest version of the movie “The Mummy“, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed. It was all just kind of so-so. I really thought that was a shame, because “The Mummy” certainly had the potential to be a great movie, it just kind of fell flat. Of course, lots of people had ideas of why the movie was so lackluster. Most people blame it on the actor Tome Cruise and his age. I kind of disagree. Just because an actor is old, doesn’t mean they loose the ability to act. Both Sean Connery and Harrison Ford continued to act well into their golden years. I think it has more to do with the writing of the film than the actors in it. I mean, there’s only so much an actor can do with a crumby script.

If I was going to re-write the movie, there is a lot of things I would change. First I would re-think the genre of the film. The studio supposedly wanted the movie to be more of a horror film then the previous “Mummy” movies, yet the most recent incarnation wasn’t scary at all. If the studio said they wanted horror, than I would write serious scary into the script!

  1. The leading lady has to go. I don’t mean that there should be no leading lady, but the way she was in the movie, just didn’t work. Her as the ex-girlfriend as been way over done. I’d also steer clear of making her the ex-wife too. In fact, I wouldn’t make her an ex-anything. How about she’s someone the main character hasn’t met before? Even better, someone he hasn’t met before, but he’s heard rumors about her. Bad rumors. Like, soldiers that go with her on missions disappear mysteriously. This works great to make viewers nervous about the mission before it even starts.
  2. The chop the mummy princess. The evil mummy princess had her time, that was a while ago. And in my opinion, the sexy mummy was never scary. Because this is supposed to be a horror movie, how about instead of a princess we go with a witch. An evil, ugly, old witch. Maybe in her first life she terrorized the Egyptian kingdom by sending plagues and things. I would writer her as irredeemably evil by having her kidnap little kids and use their bodies to power her evil spells.  Her look needs to be both ugly and creepy. I’m thinking chard and skeletal with both upper and lower fangs. Her cheeks would be rotted away to give her a great baboon-esque profile. Eye sockets would be dark empty holes. I would have her acted in an animalistic, barely human way. Lots of crouching down, snapping her big teeth in people’s faces, and sudden lunges at the camera. I might even go so far as to give her some claws.
  3. Location stays put. Every time there is a location change in a horror movie, the fear of that location gets diluted. Think of a haunted house story, how many haunted houses are in the story? That’s right, just one. Writers do this for a reason. It’s so readers or viewers can develop a good level of fear for the location itself. Once you change location, you’ve recked all that. So, I would keep the whole movie in the desert. I mean, right in the middle of the desert. Most people get a little freaked out when there is no sign of habitation in sight. The “Blair Witch Project” would have been a lot less scary if it had been filmed in a city park. Of course, if the movie stays in the desert that means the whole meeting the monster hunters part would have to be cut too. Though I love the excuse to see Russel Crowe, his character and the monster hunters in general, don’t really add anything to the story. So they have to go.
  4. The End. Yeah, that’s got some problems. Having the main character turn into a god, just seems kind of “deus ex machina”. I think I would stay with the classic horror format of starting with a large group and the villain slowly picks them off one by one. In the end there’s only the main character and the leading lady. The main character thinks of this great plan to kill the evil witch once and for all, but just as he’s about to enact his plan, surprise, it ends up the one person that has always been trustworthy (the leading lady) was actually working with the witch the whole time. “Mwahaha!” So now he has to defeat them both, and after killing all his buddies the witch is stronger than ever. Just when things look their bleakest, the witch double crosses the leading lady and kills her to gain more power. This is when the main character pounces and slays the evil witch. The main character is victorious, but battle worn and still lost at night in a desert strewn with the body parts of his dead comrades. In my opinion, horror stories are just a little bit better when you don’t know for certain if the main character actually survives in the end.

Wow, this was a long post, but a whole lot of fun! Anytime I see a movie that wasn’t as good as it could have been, my first thoughts are how I would re-write it, and I’m so glad I could share that with you today. Is there any movies you’ve seen that you would really like to re-write? Maybe you know of some books or TV shows that could use some re-writing? Please share them in the comments area below.