How Cecily Got a Name and Grabbed Her Own Sub-Plot

Posted on 20th May, 2022

Names are very important whe you're writing. You have to find the right name for each character. Very often, when a character appears into my mind, they are fully-formed in terms of personality, looks and background, and generally speaking they arrive in my head complete with a name.


If you've read The Sewing Room Girl, you may remember Juliet's friend Cecily, who sticks with Juliet through thick and thin. But would it surprise you to know that Cecily was only ever meant to have the briefest of walk-on parts early on in the story?


When I started writing the book, Cecily didn't have a name. She didn't need one. She only had a walk-on part, so she didn't need to be called anything.


Hardback, paperback & ebook cover

Audiobook cover




Near the beginning of the story, Juliet's mother Agnes is given the job of resident seamstress in the household of Lord Drysdale. Because Juliet isn’t old enough to live on her own, she is allowed to accompany her mother to Moorside, the grand house where the Drysdale family has lived for generations. Not being an official member of the household means that Juliet isn’t invited to eat in the servants’ hall. Instead, meals are carried upstairs to the sewing room for her and Agnes.


And this is where my walk-on character appeared. In the first draft of the book, she was referred to as nothing more than “the maid who brought their tray upstairs.” I called her that once. Then, a little later, it was necessary for her to appear with another tray, so I called her “the maid who brought their tray upstairs” again.


The trouble was, she appeared a third time and – well, I couldn’t go on calling her “the maid who brought their tray upstairs,” could I? So I gave her a name. It didn’t matter what the name was, because she only had a walk-on part. I called her Cecily.


And from that moment, there was no stopping her. Before I knew it, she was Juliet’s best friend. Not only that, but she her own sub-plot and her own love story.


I swear that Cecily was never meant to do anything more than fetch and carry meal-trays and that she was supposed to drop out of the story as soon as Juliet left Moorside. But the moment she was given her own name, she also acquired a full personality – and a family – and an unshakable determination to bag herself a husband.


What’s in a name? As it turned out, considerably more than I had expected.


* * * *


The Sewing Room Girl at Amazon   


The Sewing Room Girl at Kobo  


The Sewing Room Girl at Waterstones 


* * * *


And on a different subject ....


Monday 23rd May is the book-birthday of The Poor Relation and I'll be hosting a giveaway on my Maisie Thomas Author Facebook page. There will be two prizes - one for a UK reader and the other for a reader overseas. I'll be introducing the prize draw on Monday, then the competition will take place on Tuesday through until Wednesday. The winners will be announced on Wednesday afternoon BST. Do come and join in.










Make A Comment

Characters left: 2000

Comments (0)