James and Filler Names

As a writer, sometimes I use filler names for characters until I can think of real ones. The filler names might last for five pages or maybe just five paragraphs, but ultimately they’re names I used to hold space until I can think of something else. And since I don’t usually storyboard and character outline until after I start writing, this happens a lot.

For male characters, my filler name has always been “James.” Its common, straight forward, and inoffensive, but best of all it’s a name that’s unattached to anyone I know in everyday life. As common as it is, I’m not related to or friends with anyone named James. So there are no real life personality traits attached to the name or characteristics that could inadvertently be transferred onto the page.

Which is why I get especially excited when I actually meet someone named James in person. It’s like I’m meeting a blank slate in the flesh, someone around whom I have no associated feelings or preconceptions. I keep my mind and my heart open to them, more so than I do for anyone else, just because of their name and the significance it has to my writing.

As you might imagine, I’ve sort of half convinced myself that I’ll end up dating a guy named James down the road. It’ll probably ruin the whole filler name thing eventually, but given my predilections towards the James’s of the world it’s almost inevitable that I’ll self-sabotage on that front. But I can’t help it. I’m drawn to them, curious to a fault. “James” is my weakness.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, “Lilah” is my female filler name.


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