Play It Again, Sam


Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. Read this post to find out why you need to think about naming characters.

Sam applies the eye liner with a practised hand. Lashes flutter, inspecting the handiwork. The matching black lines complete the transformation. The mirror confirms it. Gentle blonde curls carefully styled; heavy make-up perfectly applied. Blush rides hide on gaunt cheeks.

Collarbones protrude in an almost painful manner. A testament to days of abstinence. Months of warm lemon water and small bites of tasteless steamed chicken.

A bra strapped in place, a symbol of optimism against an ignorant breastbone. Ribs step into a waist. Hips like hooks, surround a concave belly trimmed with a wispy piece of lace, hiding angry skin, red from waxing and plucking. Tucked, strapped, taped and ready.

Lean thighs give way to knobbly knees which flare into calves. The dress falls heavy with promise. Hiding all the secrets, flattering the carefully constructed masterpiece.  Sequins cling in desperation to the hollow bones. Red lips curve. Satisfied, the high heels click down the passage. The audience waits.

The lights have dimmed. The make-up has run. The tired heels click back to the dressing room. The door closes promising silence and solitude. Sam rips off the sweat-soaked wig. The lacy panties follow. Along with all the tape. Blood rushes – relief and release. He alternates between scratching his groin and his head, wondering which wig he’ll wear tomorrow night.

It’s all in the name isn’t it? Naming your characters, I think, is sometimes more important than naming your book. It is something that must be considered very carefully.

Look at the confusion a unisex name can create.
  1. Is it intentional?
  2. Does it add to the plot or does it irritate your reader?
  3. Have you chosen a symbolic name?
  4. Do the initials mean something?
  5. Was you character named after a great person in history only to disappoint his optimistic parents?
  6. Was she teased for her horrid name at school?
  7. Was that what made her so depressed?

Think very carefully about what you name your character.

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

If you enjoyed this post, read:

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  3. Fiction Writers Should Have Fun – A day in the life of Me
  4. Write About What Matters
  5. When A Writer Dies

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  1. Sarah Campbell

    Very well written.

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