May. 2nd, 2017

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Rereading the draft of one of my stories for the first time in many months, I notice that I named a character Thessaly. Back then the word was loose in my head; presumably I had once heard it as a place name, but it had none of that meaning in it. Since then I have taken three Classics papers, and Thessaly, even though I could tell you very little about it, is a region to me.

This is a pattern. Interesting to see it still going on. Back in high school, being taught the origins of World War Two, I absentmindedly wrote someone called Doctor Reichstagg, later realised what I'd done, and a long time later had the heart to turn him into Doctor Rhadamanth, whose name's source is at least obscure. (Perhaps if I looked further into the Greek Rhadamanthus I would feel unable to use that name either -- or, with luck, discover some unexpected appropriate resonance). Likewise, if ever I go back to the Whimsical Fanatic Psychics In Space story, Agamemnon shall have to be someone else -- I chose it for the syllables and have now read The Iliad.

I find that going back and changing a character's name is similar to changing a character's gender. Often it is easy to do. Fairly often it is difficult, though not necessarily for a reason I can identify -- the link having grown strong in my head. Or a particular name or gender may be especially relevant -- gender more often than name, although given how many of my stories take place in worlds started from scratch, gender assumptions can bend around the characters instead of vice versa. (It is often on about page four that I have thought, "This wise old beardy-wizard could just as well not be male, you know", and I have at least partly moved that thought back into the moment of first composition, though, reading this in a few years, it will be interesting to discover in what ways I have not done so).

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