Until I had started working on my novel as my thesis, I never saw the issue of having my two main characters named Dylan and Derek. But yeah, it’s pretty obvious now that those names aren’t going to work.
I knew I had to keep Dylan’s name the same. I was married to the name and she just couldn’t be anyone but Dylan. So that meant Derek needed a name change. But what?
As I started to ponder names, I nixed nearly every name that came to me. Nothing seemed to fit with his personality and who he was. So it felt a bit like ex-Derek was fighting for a name that he liked. So I recruited my sister to start listing names to help me. She gave me lots of names to work with, but only one felt right, Chris. He fought a tough fight for his new name, and his sister did just the same.
I had never realized how much these characters had a life of their own until I tried to change something about them. Once I got to know my characters this well (you know, after two and a half years of working with them) they became people that are very real to me.