Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's In A Name?

One of the hardest parts of writing for me is choosing the right name for my characters.
I usually know far more about them before I know their names.
Sometimes they do it for me, and I don't have to stress over it. Other times, they run circles around me, stick out their tongue and chant, "Nanny nanny boo boo, you can't name me!"
Yeah. I have interesting quirks, don't I?
Anywho - I do find the whole name game rather intriguing. When you hit on that perfect name, it's an AHA moment like no other. And trust me, you didn't want to be around twenty years ago when hubby and I were trying to decide on a name for our firstborn.
I've always thought Disney had some bizarre names. Like Snow White. Really? Did they call her Snow? And Bambi. Sure, great name for a deer. When did we prostitute it and attach it to buxom blonde bimbos? I'm not sure, but I wish we hadn't.
Sleeping Beauty. Yeah. Have you ever watched anyone sleep? Mouth hanging open, drool everywhere...that name just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Unless you're like two and you still have the cuteness factor going for you.
Esmerelda, Belle, Ariel, Hannah Montana for crying out loud...schizophrenia anyone?
Names are so important - they define who you are, right? You can't just slap any old name on someone and expect them to grow into it. Like Humphrey. Who ever...okay, never mind.
My husband is a pediatrician. Sometimes he'll come home with that look..."You'll never believe..."
Yes, folks, there is actually a child walking the streets called Kleenex.
I gave serious consideration to using that name in a book, really. But I do want to get published at some point.
Personally, I'm a traditionalist. I know, shocker. I like old-fashioned names. But then after you read a few books you start to wonder if it might be a tad unoriginal to call your six foot blond hunky lead man Brad. And Ashley has been so overdone.
So it's a struggle. I usually avoid it by spending hours on Facebook and pretending I don't actually have a manuscript to write. And eventually the name will pop out at me, and off we go.
How about you? Got any crazy names you want to share?
What process do you use for naming - be it characters, dogs or babies?


Jessica said...

I don't have a process. Normally they just come to me, but sometimes I struggle. It took me a long time to come up with a name for my cop hero.
My husband is very traditional too. We had the hardest time coming up with names for out three boys. He didn't like anything I picked out. LOL
We finally found names that fit just right too. :-)

Empty Refrigerator said...

For one character, I used the name we almost used for our first daughter. It seems to fit! But mainly I just pull the name out of the air and slap it on. I probably don't put enough thought into names (for my characters that is. For my babies, I agonized).