Monday, 16 May 2011

How to Name a Detective by Simon Cheshire

 When I started writing the first of what are now eight volumes of detective stories, “The Curse Of The Ancient Mask”, I was going to call my schoolkid hero Ed Deadly. I thought that sounded like a great name for a detective.
            Unfortunately, it wasn't a great name for this particular detective. When you hear the name 'Ed Deadly', what springs to mind? A hardboiled gumshoe? A darkened alleyway, a turned up trenchcoat, a fedora pulled low over the eyes...? Well, that's not what my detective is like, at all. He's still at school, and as a character he's miles away from Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. 'Ed Deadly' just didn't suit him.
            So he needed a new name. OK, something-Smart, because he's quick-witted, he's intelligent. What-Smart?... Something beginning with S! Simon Smart? No. Steve Smart? Yuck. Sid Smart? Definitely not. In the end, out of sheer desperation, I logged on to a website that suggests names for babies. I clicked on 'Boys', then 'S' and scrolled down the list. I literally shut my eyes and stabbed at the screen.
            Saxby. A medieval name, apparently, originally of Viking origin.
            Perfect! From that moment on, his name was Saxby Smart. Well, at least it's memorable!
How do other writers name their characters? Are there 'villain' and 'hero' names? Leave a comment...


  1. I do not get a choice. My characters tell me what their names are. Infuriating, but true.

  2. I find it infuriatingly difficult to name characters...they have to be right for the ages, the social background and fit in with the other characters. All the fun disappears when you're faced with naming an entire clique of girls at once!

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  4. Open a dictionary at random, choose a word, make that the first or second name, and then the other name just seems to sidle up. Sidle ... that'd be a good name for a slightly dodgy character. Gregory Sidle. Jennifer Sidle. Sidle Smythe-Rabbitton ..

  5. I just tried that...Molly Matter. Or Emily Matter. It worked rather well..

  6. I really like your take on the issue. I now have a clear idea on what this matter is all about.. precios contratar detective