Monday, May 18, 2009

A Rose by Any Other Name

What's in a name? Most people don't like their name. My theory is, as children our parents overused them with hostility. It's not old news that the use of a first, followed by a middle name is never good.

There are certain names that best describe a young child. Two come to mind, and this is just my opinion. Cory and Tyler are two names that should be changed at twenty years of age. I just can't take a thirty-year old man named, Cory, seriously.

I work for a Doctor's office. We have one patient whose name is, Precious and another whose name is Promise. Apple is bad enough, but just when you think it can't get worse, someone comes up with something else that seems outlandish. I guess if you hear these names enough, they become easier on the ears.

And what in the world is wrong with giving a name a normal spelling? Remember, it's the kid who is going to have to deal with misspelling, mispronouncing, and misunderstanding when they grow up and Mommy's not there to correct the poor witless receptionists, who, red-faced, tries to decipher the spelling. Beware, those people will often be called by their sir names. God forbid the person has a difficult last name. What can you do?

I know there are worse names, like Bud Light, Dick Head, Cris P. Beacon. You have to wonder, you just do.

All of this is leading up to how important it is to name the characters in your book appropriately. Your main characters must have good strong names. If they don't, then there should be a good story, why, and a strong nickname. So it's been said. But in actuality, if you develop your character's personality, as in real life, people will accept any name you give them, even Apple.


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  1. Ah! Genius advice, thank you so much. I'm getting into the verrrry early stages of starting my short story and am already overwhelmed with the choices of names. So many.

    Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I have to admit that I was only half-kidding about wanting Rufus to love me. I mean, I do. I really really really do. He's just so fabulous. But I'm not losing any sleep over it ;-) Thanks again and thank you for following!


  2. somehow i don't have a problem with names...they just seem to strike at the right time...anyways yup they should match the character...solid advice thou..

  3. Great topic! One nice thing about writing you do get to name your people. You can make their names as plain, fancy, or as literate as possible. I pity the poor children whose parents were illiterate and named them with misspellings and unpronounceable names because they were basically stupid and didn't have brains enough to ask someone how to spell. Those kids will have to carry the burden of their parents' ineptitude for eternity. But you can change a character's name by hitting a few buttons and ta-da! throughout the whole piece the name Bubba has magically become Thomas! And your literary "child" will not face the silent scorn of society. Unless your character really is a Bubba and then Thomas would have to undergo the magic. Either way -- easy! :D

  4. Certainly it's unwise to give a main character a name like "Sczerrtliboq."

  5. Elizabeth, great post. I've often thought about this. My two MC's names are Anna and Claire, pretty safe, huh? :) But I have heard some authors choose some radical names, and wondered if it was based solely on trying to draw attention to their book. Thanks for posting this.

  6. I don't really think that. Well, maybe to draw a long suffering type of personality because of their name. I do believe, however, that to give a main character a name most people would have to struggle with, will turn the reader off. I've found myself, you know, blah, blah, blahing a name because otherwise, I'd still be reading the book.

  7. Nice post! Personally i find Promise and Apple very lovely as names, but myes.