Hidey-Ho! J here. Happy weekend to you! It was a pretty big week in the world of J. I bought a new car. Not just a new-to-me car, no-no. An honest-to-God new car. Never driven by another human (well, the dealer took it to the gas station…) A NEW car. The first I’ve ever owned.
Of course the first thing I did (after sucking in lungful of that luscious smell) was to name the car. Meet Ailey, my brandy-new, alien green Kia Soul.
“Of course I named the car,” I replied in equal bewilderment. “Ailey and I will be together for the next dozen years…she deserves a name.”
“It’s a she?” he replied. This could be where the conversation went off the rails.
Maybe it’s a Mars and Venus thing, but I name everything important to me. Kids, pets, cars, laptops…I named his black mini cooper “Pearl” (after Mini Pearl or the Black Pearl – depending on your generation). Hubby and I have been together for over fifteen years. How is it possible that naming the car came as a surprise to him? I had just traded in my trusty, long-time pal Griswold (the family truckster-ish minivan).
Maybe this naming of objects isn’t a Man/Woman thing, but rather a writer thing. We create characters, people who live solely in our imagination until we capture them on the page. And we name them…in fact, I might have spent more time coming up with character names for my upcoming novella (The Fearsome Dane – look for it in June) than I did devising names for my children.
When I’m developing character names, I like to have a shadow of the person in my head first. Maybe just a hint of their physical traits and a nugget about their attitude toward life. For example, I’m working on a romance and I spent some time naming the heroine. Her name is Chastity but that comes with a lot of emotional baggage for her, so she’s chosen to go by the nickname Chase. None of the active characters know that Chase isn’t her actual given name. She’s subconsciously hiding from that time in her life and therefore, she’s been hiding her name, without really meaning to.
I’ve heard authors say they have trouble naming characters, but that part of the process comes easily to me. For me, the hard part is staying on task writing the actual story, without getting distracted by the zillion other newer, shinier stories that pop into my brain.
I have a baby name reference book handy and once I’ve got that shadow of the character dancing in my head, I start trolling through the book to see what kind of name appeals to me. I try to stay away from names that are too closely linked with another story. For example, I’m pretty unlikely to have characters named Edward or Bella for quite a while. Same with Harry, Percy, Nancy or Aslan. And I try to stay away from names on the US Social Security top 100. How interesting that Jacob and Isabella are the top names for 2010. Edward is all the way down at 131 on the top 200 for the decade. Wow…I thought there were more Team Edward people out there. Let’s represent people! PS: my favorite of the Twilight series is actually the unfinished Midnight Sun. Check it out if you get a chance – it’s at the end of Stephenie’s explanation of why it wasn’t finished. Flarkin’ book thieves! But, I digress.
Today’s Secret: If it’s important, I give it a name. My husband is just lucky I haven’t created a backstory for Ailey yet. There’s time.
Today’s Question: Do you name things? How do you approach naming characters?