Update on the smoking front: I'm only having a few cigs a day. It's not quite quitting, but it's better than I was doing before.
Now, on to the meat of this post: Character names.
Kelly Parra blogged today about having similar character names in several of her books. In her case, the protagonist's names in her first three books started with "An".
In my case, I packed all of the similarity into one book. My protag's name in the first novel was Julia. She had a friend named Becca. Her deceased mother's name was Miranda, and her long-lost aunt's name was Erica.
So I was super-sensitive, as I started my 2nd attempt at writing a novel, about my character's names. None of them begin or end with the same letter. They have different syllable counts. They're different in every manner possible from one another.
And what happened?
For some reason, even though my protag and her sister were easily distinguished in my mind, throughout the writing of it I constantly wanted to interchange their names. Many times, I found myself writing the younger sister's name when I meant to write the older sister's, and vice versa.
In my zeal to make the names different from one another, I ended up, somehow, giving the younger sister a name that just didn't suit her. I still haven't found a name that suits her. It drives me crazy.
And now you know what I'll be doing this afternoon.
If you don't feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then possibly what you are doing isn't very vital. If you don't feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it? If you don't have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough. --John Irving