Finding Fictional Characters

JerimiahDoss 001Meet “Jeremiah Doss,”  the main character in “The Eastlake Clock,” one of my unpublished short stories.  To tell the truth, I haven’t the foggiest idea who he is–or was.  I found his photo in an antique shop and was drawn to it at once.

When I started writing the story, I had a vague image of what my leading character looked like, but when I stumbled upon this photograph of a nineteenth-century gentleman, I knew that he was the one.

I didn’t buy it at first. The price was an exorbitant $17, too much for a picture of a dead man that I didn’t know.  So I went home and brooded over my predicament.  I couldn’t get the photo out of my head, and I was desperate for inspiration; so, I trekked back to the shop and shelled out the cash.

When I got  home, I examined the back of the photo, and guess what?  No name.  The only script on back of the photo was the name of the studio, “Morse’s Palace of Art,” and the address:  “No. 417 Montgomery St., San Francisco, Cal.”

That gave me an idea.   Why not name the character after the studio?  So “Mr. Anonymous” became “Mr. Morse.”  Now I needed a given name.  I choose “J.D.”

When my husband saw the framed photo among the family pictures, he made a remark about “another dead relative.”  I didn’t have the nerve to tell him that the fellow was not part of our ancestry, and I wasn’t about to tell him what it cost to acquire the anonymous image.  

One day as I was browsing through my Dad’s genealogy online, I came across the name “Jeremiah Doss.”  Charles Wright and Rachel Doss were my g-g-g-g-grandparents, and Jeremiah was related to Rachel.  His name had a nice ring to it.  So I tossed J.D. Morse into the graveyard of unknown fictional characters and resurrected Jeremiah Doss.

I haven’t finished penning “The Eastlake Clock,” but when I do, I will post a notice on my blog.


4 thoughts on “Finding Fictional Characters

  1. Brandy Heineman

    Very nice image and great story about naming your character! I always find naming a bit challenging. I had a two important secondary characters (siblings) go two years without a last name, ’til the perfect one rolled past on the credits of some movie and the a-ha moment hit! :)

    1. Sheryl Wright Stinchcum Post author

      Thanks! Yes, nameing a character can be quite challenging. I find most of my characters names in my or my husband’s genealogy. I found a FREE genealogy Web site,, and was able to trace many branches back to in England–even to 1400 and earlier. (The Anglican church kept impeccable records of births, baptisms, deaths, and burials.) But I don’t always use ancestors’ names for my characters. Sometimes I use the fictional name of a character I saw in a film or a novel. I know what you mean about those a-ha moments!

      Thanks for visiting my blog. It’s always nice to hear from a fellow writer. I’ll check out your blog too. Blessings!


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