If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th. In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What's In a Name?


What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

This is one of Shakespeare's most famous lines, but it often makes me wonder how much we actually believe it nowadays.  Because of our knowledge of the world around us & the things & people in it, I think it would be hard for us to even want to sniff a rose if it were instead called "vomit," or even something less gross, like "red stick."  Would we be able to truly idolize a person whose last name was Hitler, even if that person were to finally put an end to cancer or AIDS, or would our minds immediately jump to the other, more horrible person who first had that name?

The same is true when it comes to people's names, at least, for me.  I've known quite a few men named Robert (in one iteration or another) in my life, & have even dated a couple of them.  However, all but one of those experiences was bad, so somewhere in my twenties, I knew I wouldn't be able to date or even marry a "Robert" again, no matter how nice the guy might be.  I also have preconceived notions about women named Brooke (not good), & James or Chris (both good), & I've known Jennifer's on both ends of the spectrum.

Another aspect of names that bugs me are adults who use a childish form of their names.  For example, Bobby, or Danny, or even Jenny or Susie.  All of those iterations bring to my mind someone younger than 13.  When I hear of an adult going by one of those, I immediately think his/her maturity level isn't on par with their chronological age.  It might be an unfair assumption, but I still make it.

That prejudice stems from my mother always treating me as an equal.  Even when I was a little girl, she treated me as if I were 20 or 30 years old.  She never talked down to me (or other children, for that matter), or used the baby talk, & it always grated on her when someone else did.  I've taken those traits on myself, & have even gone so far as to think that putting an "ie" sound at the end of someone's name is talking down to them.  When they do it to themselves, that's where my thoughts about their own maturity come into play.

These are all things that come into play when I set out to name the characters in my books.  I haven't yet named a character any of the examples above, but when I do, I'm certain that these prejudices will creep into the characteristics of whomever I use that name for.

How about you?  Do you have any automatic thoughts when you hear a certain name?  Do you use those thoughts when creating your characters, or are you able to put them aside when doling out names?

10 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

Yes, we do form irrational, emotional opinions of any given name. But then for everyone it's different. Someone could run into a horrible Jim or a Mark, and forever more those names will make his/her nose wrinkle. So, unfortunately, although to the given writer a name he associates as "bad" or "good" will have an entirely different connotation to someone else.

More important to me in my writing is to name each character so that the reader instantly knows who I am writing about. Which means that I try not to give characters' names that sound or look the same. If I have a Jim, I won't have a James, a Jesse and a Jack. When naming secondary characters this is especially important because not as much time can be devoted to characterization.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

With a name like Jim Jackson, I realize the perils of false labeling. I most often see the name in print attached to some court case or another.

Often people will tell me "Oh, you're not Jim Jackson. Jim Jackson is [fill in the blank]." I'm sure they think they are being original.

I do choose character names for ethnicity or age (not so much diminutive version as popularity at the time of birth) or uniqueness.

I also use variations of names to show individual relationships between characters. My protagonist calls his son Paddy; everyone else calls him Patrick. Readers will have to decide whether the name use is from affection or inadequacy.

~ Jim

Warren Bull said...

It is always a risk to use names of people who are well-known in their particular field. Those names carry associations a writer may not want. There is a television commercial about a man known as Michael Jordan who disappoints at every meal, taxi ride etc.

Gloria Alden said...

Interesting blog. It resonates with a cartoon strip I read yesterday, CURTIS, in which is father was explaining why he gave him the name Curtis and not an African American sounding name. He says, "Some banks will give a loan faster to a man names Patrick than to a man named Quamell. An applicant named Heather may get housing approved easier than a woman named Moesha." Curtis says that it doesn't sound fair and his father answers "The term fair isn't associated with big business."

What you're all saying is that it isn't just businesses, but a personal issue, too. After having three problem kids with the name Josh in my classroom one year, two with ADHD and one a very disturbed foster child, I was glad none of my grandchildren were named Josh. No, I didn't dislike my students, way too often I had to say "Josh, go back to your seat" or "Josh, are you okay?" after one of the Josh's fell out of their chair, or maybe, "Josh, keep your hands to yourself" when they were annoying another student. I haven't named any of my characters Josh, either.

Alyx Morgan said...

I agree with you, EB. I try not to have too many names with similar sounds, because it gets too confusing. Which, coincidentally, is another oddity to me; people who name all their kids with the same first letter.

Alyx Morgan said...

I've done that, too, Jim; choosing names based on ethnicity. It's actually kind of fun to look up popular baby names for different countries.

And I've also got different characters calling my protagonist by different names. Her best friend calls her Tab, while her Grandmother & other people in authority use her full name, Tabitha. I agree that it helps to show the relationships better.

Alyx Morgan said...

You're right, Warren. Unless you're speaking of the famous person directly, or you plan to have said character always recite the story of why s/he was called that name & the hell s/he's had to go through, it's best to just steer clear of using well-known names for your characters.

Alyx Morgan said...

That is a very unfortunate aspect of prejudices, Gloria, & I'm glad the comic strip pointed it out.

I don't like the fact that I have my immediate reactions to certain names, because it IS a prejudice & it's NOT fair. I understand that not EVERY Robert is a bad guy, nor is every Brooke a stuck-up, spoiled rich girl. Those have just been my experiences. But I would hope that I can keep an open enough mind that--when I meet someone with those names--I'd be able to judge them on their own personality, & not on their name.

But yes, I can understand your relief at having no grandkids named Josh. My brother & father's names were both David, & I knew I'd never be able to date or marry someone with that name, nor would I want any kids with that name.

It's just interesting the associations we make with names.

Kara Cerise said...

I think that people do have a tendency to judge others based on their name. I try not to do this to humans. However, based on my experience, I'll never name a dog "Lucky." Every dog I have known with that name met a tragic end. Logically, I know there are many happy, healthy pets named "Lucky" but I don't want to tempt fate.

Alyx Morgan said...

LOL I can understand that, Kara!