A Rose By Any Other Name…

In Book 8, Aydan reacts with incredulity when she discovers that Sharkface’s given name is Kevin instead of something badass like Rocco or Slade.  So…

How important are character names to you?  Do you form first impressions based on names?  Have you ever read a story where a character’s name just didn’t seem to fit?  How did that work out?

12 thoughts on “A Rose By Any Other Name…

  1. I have wondered if you built John’s character around his name, or named him for his treatment of Ayden. Likewise, Arnie is diminutive. Alicia actually calls Hellhound “a big child”.
    So. Yes. Names do paint a picture of a character for me. But it is fun to be tricked once in a while. ‘Kevin’ yes. I was tricked. Thanks!
    J

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To me, names are kind of important, but I don’t really attach a huge amount of significance to them. In the culture I’m most comfortable in, they’re just names, not labels, per se. I know a lot of people, and their names are just their names.

    Then again, if a big, burly, knuckle-dragging face-breaker had a name like, say, Timmy…yeah, I’d have to have a little giggle about that. Privately, most likely, but I’d still notice.

    And if someone is named Sven, I’ve got at least an inkling that they’re not from, say, Guatemala. Usually, at least.

    But names like Robert or John or Charles, or even Kevin? Not big indicators for me. But for Stemp, Charles is good. Charley or Chuck? Nope, Charles it is. Couldn’t be any other way.

    But you mentioned Alicia. Had her name been Alice, it would not have fit. Alicia? That fits her much better, I think. High strung? Yep. A little nit-picky and spoiled? Yep. A screaming bitch? Totally. That name worked perfectly with that character.

    I’ve noticed that in my story, some of the names are indicators and some are not. The heroine’s name begins and ends with vowels, which is a good thing for fantasy as I understand it. I didn’t do that intentionally, that’s just her name. It fits her. It has no other significance, but that’s enough I think.

    I’m using a lot of made-up names in my world, and even some of the more common names have been spelled differently. (Rees instead of Reece or Reese, for instance; it’s a whole other world, after all.) The good guys (the gender-nonspecific ‘guys’ here to be clear) tend to have ‘regular’ names even if they might not be particularly common names. A few of the bad guys tend to have names that one would associate with people of unpleasant character. And the *serious* bad guy doesn’t even have a name. He’s ‘the emissary’ most of the time…and ‘honorable hatchet man’ once or twice. I tried to think of a name for him and couldn’t. ‘The emissary’ works better anyway, I think.

    But nicknames? Oh, yeah! Those just work. Spider? Perfect, and both ways. Spindly build? Yep. Sinister? Totally opposite! Again, perfect. Hellhound? Perfect, and again both ways. Badass? Absolutely. Knits blankets for his friends, keeps a tomcat that’s named after a blues artist and snuggles in Hellhound’s beard, and helps old ladies with their errands and takes them to their doctor’s appointments? Perfect.

    In some societies, names are labels. “Stands With A Fist” Remember that from Dances With Wolves? Which was also a name, come to think of it. Or from Mel Brooks, “Dances With Bikers.” Now, THERE’S a name to be proud of!

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        1. Those quotes came from Mel himself in an interview. Maybe on the Tonight Show. If not there, then another similar venue. All I remember is him coming out with those lines and everyone breaking into screaming laughter. They still make me laugh, and that was years ago.

          You will remember Wayne and Schuster, of course. They were on the Sullivan show several times decades ago. He’d always introduce them as “that premier comedy team from Canada.” They did BIG skits with full sets, costumes, and lots of props. They did a spoof called The Scarlet Pumpernickel that I STILL remember, and I couldn’t have been more than ten or twelve at the time. Gad, they were funny.

          Just this minute, I found them on YouTube! I thought it would be worth a look, and sure enough, there they are! Okay, I know what I’ll be doing for the rest of the night. 🙂

          Like

          1. I loved Wayne and Schuster. One of my other favourite lines came from one of their ancient Roman skits. I can’t remember the name of the skit, but the quick exchange of lines is unforgettable:
            “I’d like a martinus.”
            “You mean ‘martini’.”
            “If I wanted two, I’d ask for them.”

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to say, most of the time I accept names as you can’t really to say someone but you don’t look like a “Peter” your more of a “Steven” and not get funny looks so I tend to accept it. I often get a mental picture of someone before I meet then and often get it totally wrong. Occasionally I’m spot on.

    But years of working on the phone I no longer try to picture someone, I just hear a voice and let everything else wash over me. I focus on what they are saying and deal with it

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a peculiar attitude about certain names. My own name and most of my siblings names are either permanently spelled wth a diminutive end or their first name easily becomes a nickname with a diminutive ending. For example a first name of Gary that is not originally Garreth or Garrison etc would be an example of the first permanent diminutive, where a guy named Frank or Franklyn easily becomes nicknamed Frankie.

    I wish my name were Laurel or Laura rather than Laurie. As these names go mine would be worse if spelled Lori. Lori is a brainless ditz where Laurel has gravitas.

    Two of my brothers have nickname diminutives which disappeared into adulthood, but the other brother who has a permanent diminutive name goes by his first syllable only, which is very acceptable. Some of my siblings will do the same for me, which I like just fine.

    My oldest sister gave her only child a perfectly acceptable name for the country they live in, but when made diminutive is slightly inappropriate in this country, so she never went with that, thank God! But she went even worse- she thought he was a jolly baby, so she persisted throughout his childhood to call him Jolly, until he demanded she never use that name within hearing range of anyone else. I absolutely never used that appalling nickname. In anticipation of the empty nest, she got a dog. It was an appropriately small dog for European big city living in a small apartment, but did she give it a name with a bit of dignity? Not on your life! Toffee. Only because the dog had a hint of caramel in his otherwise white coat. Ugh! Of course the dog is horribly spoiled and has bad behavior.

    I have a theory that if you name a child a name which is usually said to others as a sneer, that kid has a horrible personality. There was a period when it seemed that every third girl was called Missy. Maybe they were all Mellissas, but out in public the errant child was always Missy. Missy is what you call a misbehaving female child. A misbehaving male child was often “Buddy.” I have no idea what name Buddy starts as. Name your kid either of those two, I think you’re begging for an obstinate kid, and a severely damaged adult. Maybe Missy Perry will prove me wrong, but a double diminutive? Really?

    One of my friends felt the same of guys that have a first name for a last name. Or was it guys with two or more last names and no first name? Bruce Wayne? Anderson Cooper?

    I think some authors come up with weird names for their characters. What in the world was Louisa May Alcott thinking when she named a girl Jo and her male friend Laurie? Jo did seem a bit butch. Why give a heroine a guy’s name that are shortened versions of a girl name unless the girl has gender identity issues?

    You did it with Jack. Clearly she is not butch. Sure, your story is her parents stuck her with Honey which should be illegal, but then why spell Jack the male way and not Jaque? Too pretentious? In my hatred of the diminutive, I won’t suggest calling her Jackie however you might choose to spell it.

    This reminds me of the Saturday Night Live bit with the gender non-specific character Pat and friends Chris, and other gender non-specific named friends. The skit was all about how we feel uncomfortable not knowing the gender identity or orientation of a person around us.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Had a high school buddy with the nickname of, well, Buddy. His actual name was Raymond. He could have gotten the nickname from his much-older brother, maybe. The brother’s name was Leighton with a Junior tacked on the end for good measure. I guess the older one didn’t have anyone to help him out. 🙂

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