Another name change

I’ve mentioned before that I am struggling with the name of one of the characters in the novel I’m editing. I started writing it about ten years ago, when I was still working, so actually writing it was squeezed into corners of the day when I wasn’t busy with school, housework, family… I finished it about five years ago – it’s a very long novel and I have been working on other stories since then, but now I have come back to it.

So my character has had the same name for over ten years… the novel is about a family of cousins and how their united front is shattered when their grandmother dies. The first part is told from the point of view of an outsider, a girlfriend who comes in and meets them for the first time. For various reasons she becomes very involved with the whole family,and they become very fond of her. To emphasise her being a stranger I made her slightly exotic – her father was half Hungarian, her mother half Vietnamese. I called her Ismène, which I thought was a pretty name and actually quite easy to say even though it’s unusual…

A couple of weeks ago, having been working on this story for nearly six months, I came to the conclusion that maybe I should change her name… and she became Emma, another pretty name… however, it somehow has seemed too pretty, sweet, and girlie, and although my character is sweet, she is definitely not girlie, she’s tough and strong, and as I’ve been writing her name, Emma, Emma, Emma… I have realised that it’s not right.

Another trawl through lists of names… I tried a Dutch name, Imka, which I really like – and may use for a different character in a different novel, but I have finally chosen Ismae, which isn’t that differnt from my original Ismène. Even though it’s unusual, again it is easy to pronounce… Ismay… should I spell it like that?

Now I have to choose her surname… I’ve abandoned the Hungarian name I had… maybe she’s not part Hungarian and part Vietnamese, maybe she’s part Dutch with an Indonesian/Dutch East Indies heritage? Maybe her name is de Waal… maybe…

Hmmm, this needs a lot of thinking about!


    1. Lois

      Well… when I actually finished it… I confess about 300,000 words… – it is going to be a longer than my normal books book, but I’m losing about a third of it! When I was writing it I seemed to think an extra ten words for every word I needed was perfect… :/

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      Thank goodness you mentioned that… I haven’t read the book so that’s now on my list, but I’ll change the name (again!) to something else Dutch… I have Dutch friends so I can fill in her background!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Rosie Scribblah

        One of the best books I have ever read. Edmund De Waal’s father is Dutch on his father’s side but on his mother’s he is descended from the Ephrussi Jewish banking family and it’s their story that Edmund investigates. Harrowing but also an incredible book.

        Liked by 1 person

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