Friday, December 15, 2006


Ted is sixteen years old, a little above medium height, brown eyes, blond-brown hair that he likes to spike. He lives in Salisbury. He is the oldest of three siblings and feels very protective towards the younger two, especially as his brother (the middle of the three) is a full-time resident of the paediatric unit at hospital. His stepfather is a conveyancing solicitor and the two do not get on. He left school after his GCSEs and is spending the summer working in an antiquarian bookshop before doing his A-levels at college. He also has various other issues that I won't go into here. Have you worked out that he's a character in a book yet?

The one problem I have with Ted is ... his name. Sometimes a character goes through several renamings before I hit on the right one. Sometimes I just know what that character's name is, and this one's is Ted, though I couldn't tell you if it's short for Edward or Theodore; probably the former as he's English.

But ...

I'm 13,000 words in to the next book and the number of times I've already had to work around "Ted said" or "said Ted" is getting silly. (Or in one case, "Ted lay on his bed with his hands behind his head.") It's also surprising how often he says said something else that rhymes with his name: thus (e.g.) "'it's red,' said Ted."

I could use synonyms for "said", but while I don't mind doing that occasionally, "said" remains the best word because it is so unobtrusive. The reader's eye glides over it and gets on with the narrative. You can have "answered," "responded", "shouted", "laughed" ... but use them sparingly. (Especially "ejaculated", which technically would work but is more generally taken to mean something else. And it's not that kind of novel.) Ted can't be the only character to get through the novel without ever just saying something.

The other obvious answer is to rename him, but as I've said, Ted (there I go again) is Ted. In my head. You'd think there's lots of boy's names available, but ... I don't like to use the names of people I know reasonably well. I'm not going to use the names of males of any age to whom I'm related. And other names just don't seem to work.

I once knew a Greg(ory), so called because his mother fancied the actor Mr Peck around the time of his birth. The double glazing salesman from hell that I used to live beneath had been named after Roger Moore's character from The Persuaders (seriously - his first and middle names were Brett Sinclair). Ted would have been born in 1990, so who was famous and fanciable then? Gary Lineker? Hmm, a possibility. But of course, the book won't be published for at least three or more years, so maybe I should look at 1993 or later.

Now I think of it, Gary is growing on me, as it were ... damn! I know one!

Ian? Hmm. Don't know where that came from. Knew an Ian at university, haven't seen much of him since ... Ian ... hmm.

Still not Ted, though.


  1. Anonymous1:55 pm

    Right said Ted! You could go for Teddy... as in Sheringham, who manages to pass of being a respectable (?!) footballer (if somewhat old) without being thought of as a Teddy bear. Does he go to a public school? He could then be called Tedders.

  2. Anonymous1:56 pm

    That last comment was by me, by the way.


  3. I can safely say he will not be called Tedders. Ever.

  4. Anonymous12:04 am

    Didn't think you'd go for that one, somehow...

  5. If worst comes to worst you could always trawl through a baby names site. It's what I used to do when I was stuck for names.


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