Name Theory: Write with Bravado

This week’s writer had a wealth of character names that began with a “K” sound. I would like to add to this another word beginning with that sound: Confidence.

The greatest reason why I am successful in helping writers name their characters is that I have confidence in my choices, and they sometimes lack confidence in theirs.

I’m not saying all of the writers with issues naming characters lack confidence in their choices—certainly many of them have made interesting, imaginative, and brave choices already—I just mean that many that I have helped could have helped themselves more easily if they had had greater confidence in their own abilities.

I have said before that I edit what writers sent me about their characters, most often to make it somewhat more readable, and sometimes to make it shorter and take out superfluous information. This week, I must admit, I edited the original letter to take out much of the writer’s lack of confidence.

Maybe this was wrong. Maybe I should let you readers see more of what I saw. Maybe I should let the writers speak more for themselves.

I do not often edit much, and certainly not as much as I did this time. I was just bothered by the lack of confidence and I didn’t want all of the lack of choices (on other character’s names, on setting, on characterization) to distract from the focus on naming this character.

It was not a distraction to me when I originally named this character, because I was moving so fast and because I was seeing so much lack of confidence at the time, but now on re-reading it I was struck and disturbed.

I don’t think this writer needed my help. I don’t think my list of names was what was needed.

I think this writer just needed to borrow my confidence.

So this week, dear readers, please be confident. Make bold choices. Be brave. Have confidence in your imagination. Even if you must edit it all away later (and don’t we all have to do this at some point), let your initial writing be full of bravado.

You got this. Now go and write!


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