Editing Character Names: Changing Bud to Arnie
While editing works of fiction, you may decide that Bud the sarcastic sidekick feels more like an Arnie. Or maybe you’ve introduced a late-arriving Bob who could be mistaken for Bud. To avoid confusing readers, you need to say goodbye to Bud and hello to… Arnie? Why not? Arnie’s as good a name as any.
Changing a character name, e.g., Bud to Arnie, is not too difficult, but you should proceed with caution. Writers commonly use Microsoft Word’s Find and Replace feature to make large-scale changes, but you want to avoid inadvertently changing words like “rosebud” and “budget” into “rosearnie” and “arnieget.”
First, let’s deal with a tricky part. You probably referred to Bud by a nickname or two throughout the book. Bud’s friends, in dialogue, may have called him Buddy or Buddo. If you can remember the nicknames, do a one-at-a-time Find and Replace on them. With your creative juices firing on all cylinders, come up with some fun nicknames for Arnie (Arnster? Arnmeister?). You won’t recall every instance where you used a nickname, but you’ll catch any stragglers in the final proofreading of your editing process.
Next, let’s address the plain old Buds. You’ll find a More option in the Replace feature. Under More, you can select Match Case, which refers to upper and lower-case letters. While your first instinct might be to do a quick Replace All on Bud (with a capital B), I suggest you select Match Case and do a Replace on each of the following:
- space Bud. (space bar, Bud with a capital B, period)
- space Bud, (space bar, Bud with a capital B, comma)
- space Bud space (space bar, Bud with a capital B, space bar)
Replace them with Arnie in the exact same format:
- space Arnie.
- space Arnie,
- space Arnie space
Those three options should find most of the Buds you want to change. When you’re done, do a regular Find for bud (with Match Case turned off) and see what’s left. The results should be normal words like “rosebud” and “budget,” as well as a few inadvertent Buds that may have slipped through the cracks, e.g., Bud! or Bud?
Finish up with a regular Find for Arnie with no spaces around it. Scan the results and make sure that no “rosearnies” or “arniegets” were created. Lastly, consider proofreading your work again or using a professional service (like BooketyBop Editing!) to look it over before it goes public.
There you have it. Go ahead and fill your book with memorable Hermione Grangers and Tom Sawyers. Just make sure they don’t pull a Jason Bourne and change identities on page 192!