No you didn’t. Tell me this is just a dream, a nightmare. Tell me you did not just change my name!
OMG. You did. Sonofa… I can’t believe
you had the nerve. If you think I'm going to lift so much as a
finger until the end of the book you are sorely mistaken. I’m just going to sit
here and stare at my navel until you give me my name back.
This was the attitude I got from one of my characters a few months ago after having changed their name. I knew early on in the writing process it would need changing but I procrastinated. You know, there's a saying about procrastination, inappropriate as hell to mention here, but so true. Anyway, fast forward two and a half years and I suddenly realized changing the name was going to cause me some difficulties, but I did it. And for weeks after the change, I cringed every time I saw the new name written on paper or on screen.
So why did I change it? Believability.
As writers we have to control the type and amount of information we give the reader when we first introduce our characters. Their names can and should (in my humble opinion), provide some information about them and can sometimes be used to convey backstory. The reader is going to make automatic assumptions about our characters and we can't stop that. However, we can control these assumptions to a certain extent. Obviously, ethnicity, religion, age, language even personality traits can be transmitted to the reader based on their given names.
When I began writing my wip, one of my characters had a Middle Eastern background with a Middle Eastern name. But I quickly realized my lacunae of that region made me uncomfortable writing about it, even if it was briefly mentioned in the book. So I changed it, giving my character an English lineage instead. But having to change their name two years later was like having to change one of my children’s names. I had grown accustomed to the old name. On top of that, I had trouble moving forward with the story because the new name was so distracting. I'd say it took about a month for me to get used to the name change. And I’m still not 100% satisfied with it, but I know the new name makes my character more believable.
So I respectfully disagree with you, Will, a rose named sweatymammothbreath would not smell as sweet…at least not in my book.
Let me know if you've ever had to change one of your character's names. Did you find the switch difficult to make? If you had to change your MC name could you do it?