Don’t Name Your Character Handee

No, seriously, don’t.

On Sunday I completed the first draft for The Coral Gate. I really enjoyed writing it, despite the time it took to finish (81 days!). There were genuine moments of wonder, fear, and humor as I was writing.

There were also the occasional flubs.

It was bad enough that I decided to name one character Simon. After writing “…Simon said” for the twelfth time, I was about ready to murder Simon with that giant wasp I added to the story. (It makes sense in context.) His name makes sense, though — he’s not enough of a rock to be Peter, so he’s still Simon until he gets some character growth. And I can add “Simon said” as an in-joke in-story to make it work, if it comes to that.

But Simon has nothing on officer Joe Handee.

Handee, see, is a surname I heard a lot in Tennessee, and I wanted to use as many authentic regional names as I could in-story. So Handee appeared in chapter two, and continued to harass and (eventually) help our heroine throughout the book. The problem came when my subconscious decided to start playing jokes:

“I’m not some hand puppet, Handee!”

“Noah watched Handee work…”

“That’s not my job, Handee.”

And so on.

The moment I wrote my last word in that draft, I opened Find and Replace, and Joe Handee became Joe Greene. It’s a bit more ironic, since Greene isn’t “green” at his job at all, and less of a laugh riot than Handee.

So, please. Don’t name your character Handee.