Character Names: Goodbye Beth, Hello Krystal

Ever been 84,000 words into a manuscript that you’ve been working on for months, then read a book in the same genre and realize your character has the same name as the heroine or hero in said book? Argh!

I’ve been naming about 75 percent of the characters in my books after family members (deceased ones, of course–I don’t have a death wish). The heroine in my New Orleans series is Drusilla Jane (DJ) Jaco, a mashup of my great-grandmothers Drusilla Jane Harris and Ida Jaco. I’ve always thought Drusilla was a wonderfully gothic name, and Jaco’s just odd. There aren’t that many of us.

Other family names appear in that series: DJ’s mother, Carrie, is named after my grandmother. Her dad, Peter Jaco, is named after…Peter Jaco, a distant ggg-uncle. See, I knew that genealogy would come in handy. The elf, Rand, is named after my great-grandfather Randolph Sandlin. I haven’t used Sandlin yet, but rest assured, it’ll show up eventually.

Which brings us to Bethany Harris, the heroine in my WiP, and a ggg-aunt. That character has been Beth since she was a twinkle in the back of my brain. She’s been kidnapped as Beth, been almost drained by a vampire as Beth, had her bones broken as Beth, fallen in love as Beth, had hot steamy vampire sex as Beth. She’s Beth.

So is the heroine of the first Black Dagger Brotherhood book.

Now, I’m no JR Ward and the Stockholm vampires are no brotherhood. But still: human girl…big vampires…closed society. Uh-uh.

A couple of days ago, after some brainstorming with the brilliant crit partner, Beth died and Krystal was born. She’s a girl from the wrong side of the tracks in the Deep South, so it seems fitting she should be named after a cheap, square hamburger, yes?

I did a global change: 636 Beths gone with the click of a key. Sigh. Easy come, easy go.

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate’s Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man’s Curse; Black Diamond).

6 thoughts on “Character Names: Goodbye Beth, Hello Krystal

  1. Glad you’re okay with the change. I did that with one of my secondary characters who will be the hero in the next book.

    All was fine until now. As I go through the manuscript, there was a word that I couldn’t figure out. What the heck was I trying to say? Then I remembered. I changed every Saul so the word assault become something very strange.

  2. I’m sorry to see Beth go. I have to say I’m biased. And well just think about the Beth I was named after – Beth in Little Women.

    At least you had it easy with find and replace. Imagine having to change all the Beth’s out of a typewriter manuscript.

    I hate naming characters. I usually have a letter of the alphabet in mind and search through names and meanings till one clicks.

    Easy to do first names this way if a bit time consuming. Surnames are harder but there are some sites to check for those too.

  3. LOL, Riley–that’s the downside of the global change. I’ll probably find some weird words when I go back through the mss too.

    Sorry to lose Beth, Beth! I think it’s cool to be named after Beth in Little Women. Better than being named after Suzanne Pleshette 🙂