The Name Problem

Recently (about ten minutes ago) I asked the scary Twitterverse if the names of two of my MCs were too similar. The conclusion was yes. Damn.

Okay, so, I have these two characters, Tony and Thomas. As I’ve been working on this project for well over a year now, I’ve become rather attached to said names for said characters. I’ve got a back up name for Tony, and have done for some time, but I’ve never been sure about employing it. So here I am.

The character is a fairy and, in this universe, that means his real name is virtually impossible for a non-fairy to say. It is traditional for any fairies who leave the fold to be given a nickname that is somehow appropriate to them. In this case, Tony was named after the infamous character Tony Montana. It’s a painfully obvious association but it made sense with how the name came about and also provided an amusing parody, especially when (not very surprising spoilers ahead) Michael’s upbeat, fun loving, substance abusing fairy BFF actually turns out to be an ex-mobster. Which kinda leads us into Book 2 – The Fairy Godfather.

The backup name I’ve got going on is Frank (or Frankie), this time after Frank Sinatra. This still brings connotations of sharp suits, women and substance abuse (okay, so it’s alcohol and not a MOUNTAIN of coke) – the characters three favourite things. There are also alleged associations with organised crime. So, we paint a similar picture but far less in the extreme. Which could be a good thing. After all, the character’s nefarious past is a secret throughout a good portion of the book. At least to Michael, our poor gullible narrator.

Thomas’ name is a different story. It literally just popped into my head. Serious, that’s the story. Tony’s name has reason and rhyme and that has made it easier for me to think up an alternative. I really couldn’t think of another for Thomas that wouldn’t pain me. Which sounds ridiculous and irrational but, hey, I’m a writer so excuse me while I go and drink and weep in this corner.

So, the question. Is Frank (or Frankie) a good replacement name? From that little bit you know of him, does that capture him even a little? Should I just man the frick up and change Thomas’ name?

Oh, that’s three questions. Never mind, I’m drunk and crying, remember?

5 responses to “The Name Problem

  1. I’m going to keep giving you contradictory advice: change the name you’re less in love with. If you like Tony, change Thomas. It’s harder, but sounds like you don’t really care about it anyway, whereas you do like Tony (even if you have a backup name). Changing names is the suck, but I think it’s ultimately better to make the lukewarm one hotter than the hot one lukewarm. Metaphors and stuff. Change Thomas.

    • THAT’S my problem. I am in love with it. I just don’t know WHY! Tony’s was chosen with thought and calculation, Thomas was just what came out with the character. I chose Tony’s name. Thomas chose his own. The dick.

  2. I went through this same agony when I had to change my MC’s name. (Total pain, especially since I had to change a small chunk of the language it came out of as well.) I loved the name, but it started with a letter that, turns out, doesn’t exist in their alphabet and then there were other minor issues with it. Bottom line, it had to go (and a few other side characters’ with the same morphological issues). In the end, it was for the best, for a multitude of reasons. As attached as we get to things as writers, the reader will never miss it. We do what’s best for the story.

    To get to your actual question (a month late): I agree that the two names are too similar. Personally, as a dispassionate reader who only knows what’s in the above post, Tony is a perfect name and I see no reason that Thomas needs to stay Thomas. Call him Greg. Or Ben. Yassir Ben-Assad. If ‘Tony’ is a nickname assigned to him in adult life by folks who know him well, of course it would be so perfectly descriptive. Thomas’ parents were probably just handed a screaming bundle of poop in the hospital and picked whatever sounded good with their last name. But if you’re really attached to Thomas, then Frankie is a fine name for an exiled gangster fairy with a past. Like I said, the readers won’t know the difference either way.

    Good luck doin’ the hard stuff. That you probably already did… a month ago. Yeah.

    (And I’ve gotta say: the title ‘The Fairy Godfather’ cracked me up. I giggled myself silly.)

    • I didn’t get it done a month ago. In fact, mere days ago, prompted by this very comment, Madison and Tia watched me flip flop all over Twitter as I agonised over and finally decided to change Thomas’ name. It hurt. Then I had to flip flop loads more picking a new name. But it is done. So thank you both for your help! You guys are invaluable!

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