What's in a Name? How Anthony Became Lawrence

Posted on 7th June, 2024

Last week I wrote a blog about how I sometimes use very similar names in the same book without realising what I've done for quite some time, and then I have to set about finding a different but equally suitable name for one of the characters. The example I used last week was Nell's lovely landlord in A Respectable Woman, who started out as Hubert and ended up, via Edwin, as Hedley.


In that case, it was a question of finding a name that 'felt' the same to me. Hubert was a gentle, considerate person, and to me the name Hubert reflected that; and when it had to be changed, I needed another name that felt the same. In fact, as it turned out, I needed two names that felt the same.


But it doesn't always work out that way. Take what happened to Prudence and Patience Heskeths' brother in the Surplus Girls series....




This - written from Patience's viewpoint - is how Lawrence is introduced into the story:


"For Prudence and Lawrence to be in the same room without arguing was unprecedented. Lawrence had always thrown his weight around, ever since they were children, and over the years he had become increasingly condescending towards them. Because they weren’t married? Probably. The world looked down on spinsters. But it wasn’t just that. Lawrence had risen in the world. He was a successful businessman and Evelyn revelled in her role as his perfectly-groomed wife."


But Lawrence didn't start out with that name. He started out as... Anthony. Then, towards the end of book 1, the orphanage that plays such an important role in the series is introduced in to the story - and, guess what, I called it St Anthony's. Another instance of me not playing close attention to names? Maybe. I will admit that it took a considerable time for me to realise what I'd done.


Well, the obvious thing would have been to rename the orphanage. After all, I had Anthony Hesketh very clearly in my head - I knew exactly what he looked like, how he behaved, and all about him.


But - and it's a very big but - it was really important for the orphanage to be called St Anthony's - as you will already be aware if you've read the series. So I ended up having to find a new name for Anthony Hesketh.


And the name that appeared in my head, demanding to be used, was Lawrence. Great. Except for one thing. Lawrence didn't look the same as Anthony - he's a lot taller, for one thing. And his personality was different too - cleverer, more sarcastic. So I had to go back and rewrite all the old Anthony scenes to make them suiable to be Lawrence scenes.


I ought to make it clear that this change of character didn't alter the plot - it simply changed the manner in which the scenes and conversations that included Lawrence played out.


So there you are: changing a name isn't always as simple as pressing 'Find & Replace'. It all depends on what the character needs you to do.


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Here is the link to the Surplus Girls 4-book series on Amazon.


Books 1 and 2 (The Surplus Girls and The Surplus Girls' Orphans) are both available on Kindle Unlimited.






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