When a Novel Has an Identity Crisis

For the last seven months (minus about two months for revisions on other projects), I have been working on a book called STOCKHOLM, with the main characters named Beth and Galen and set in the fictional Alabama town of Stockholm.

First, I discovered another book in the same genre had a lead character named Beth. Goodbye, Beth. Hello, Krystal.

Next, my vigilant alpha reader (yay Dianne) pointed out that my early 17th-century Irishman wouldn’t have been named Galen because that name hadn’t yet made it to Ireland by 1600. Goodbye Galen, hello Aedhan aka Aidan.

Then, I began thinking having the name Stockholm for my town when a major book subplot is Stockholm Syndrome was overkill. So I changed the name back to the area in Chambers County I’d chosen to locate my town, Penton. Goodbye Stockholm, hello Penton.

If my town is named Penton, it makes no sense to have the book named Stockholm, and I don’t like Penton has a title. So, goodbye STOCKHOLM, hello REDEMPTION: A NOVEL OF THE PENTON VAMPIRES.

So the bad news is, I’m calling all my characters by the wrong name and have weird words in the manuscript where the global change went wacky.

The good news is (drum roll, please) it’s DONE.

Anyone else have a book with an identity crisis?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man's Curse) releases April 2016).

11 thoughts on “When a Novel Has an Identity Crisis

  1. Woo-hoo! Congrats on being done! And that has to be hard to process all those changes. I’ve changed a character’s name before and I’m about to have to do it again. It always throws me for a loop because they’ve been the other name in my head so long. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Thanks, Kat & Roni!

    Me too, Roni–I keep saying Galen-er-Aidan so much he may have to end up with a hyphenated name ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Congrats! I know I’m happiest on days when I complete a project. Although days when I start a new idea are up there too…

    I’m thinking about changing on of the character names in my YA fantasy novel. Afraid they’re too similar. Alexia and Artex. I love the name Alexia and Artex was in homage to The Neverending Story (the horse, Artax) so I haven’t been able to take the plunge yet.

  4. Ah, it’s painful, Nicole! I didn’t seem to have as much trouble with Beth as I did with Galen, for some reason. (Maybe because I really like the name Galen!)

  5. An identity crisis? OMG that seems to be all my poor 200-years-A.D., meets the here and now is having! Man it’s tough to work through it isn’t? I’m unpublished and working like hell to change that but sometimes… you just want to seek the intervention of a REALLY EXCELLENT THERAPIST. Know what I mean? Congrats on the completion though! Great blog.

  6. Congrats on being done! I don’t actually name my characters until the book is almost done. Weird I know. But I take a long time picking character names because I want them to reflect the personality, have meaning, etc. so I just give them generic names like Jane and John. Or even HFname (hero first name). Then when I pick the names I go through and do a search and replace.

  7. Thanks, Cindy. I’d never thought about not naming them at the outset, although I can see how it would be easier than re-naming almost all of them! Then you know what fits. Thanks for stopping by!