The other day, I made a flippant remark about names*. Okay, okay, I too have opinions about names that I like and don’t like, but the idea of not seeing a movie because of what the actress named their daughter is asinine.
I mean, if I were that petty, I’m sure there’s a long list of things I could criticize about a person that wouldn’t stopped me from seeing the movie long before child names came on the list.
But it is an interesting topic, because twice I’ve had writing rejected because of character names. Okay, personally, I think that’s asinine. Changing a name isn’t nearly as hard as changing a major plot twist if the story falls apart, IMHO…
Like it or not, people all react to names differently. Evilkev and I argue over names all the time. He’s firmly in the, “If you wouldn’t change your name to that and live with it yourself for a year then you shouldn’t stick your kid with it,” camp. He actually does think that extreme names for kids is a form of child abuse.
Now, I’m not going to get into attacking his viewpoint or defending it. He’s a right to his opinion, even if he’s wrong. Well, okay, he does have a point. It would be nice if parents thought about what it might be like to live with a certain name before they stick their kid with it.
I always disliked my name. It was boring, serious, uncommon. As a kid, just about anything else would have been preferable.
Well, except Julius Puckler.
Think I’m kidding? Nope. For 10 years of my life I went to school with Julius. Julius had an older brother named Rocky. Nobody bugged Rocky, but the kids used to call my classmate “Julius Fuckler”.
Let’s face it. Kids can be brutally cruel.
I had a friend in high school named Juanita Plummer. Her brother called her Neener. Others used to say, “Hey, we need a plumber!” Oh, and how everyone thinks they’re so original, like they’re the only ones who’ve ever thought of that joke.
A lot of my character names come from names I like, but that evilkev would never in a million years let me name a child if we had one. Tymen Farraday, for example. I worked with a child named Tymen. Dutch name, though the child I knew was half Dutch half Chinese. Well, that’s the Canadian way of things. I liked this child, a lot, and the name stuck.
Of course, evilkev hates it.
Even the name Jack Roberts came from the reject list. We’d been married a few years before evilkev shared the fact that Robert wasn’t his Dad’s first name, but his middle name. I’d always known Papa Smurf as Bob, and figured Kevin got his middle name from his Dad.
Turns out he got his middle name from Dad, alright, because it’s a family tradition to give the firstborn son the middle name Robert.
Excuse me while I go curse for a while.
Einarson is a hard enough surname to work with. But add Robert as a middle name, plus Kevin’s refusal to consider anything even remotely unconventional (even if it’s an ethnic name) and naming kids would be mission impossible.
Not like we have any or are going to, but at that point, that didn’t seem so certain.
So, I told my sister I’d always liked the name Jack. Sure, it was our grandfather’s nickname (his name was John). Sure, he was a son of a bitch and used to extinguish cigarettes on my sister’s arm. But it was also the nickname of CS Lewis, and I do like the name.
“Jack Robert. It isn’t horrid,” I said. (Bear in mind when your sister’s pregnant or friends are pregnant, women talk about baby names – it doesn’t seem so odd.)
“Jackrabbit.” Her automatic response. Always thinking of the potential jokes that can be made of a name.
And so, Jack Roberts was born. Fictionally, because my sister had just ruined another name for me.
Biggest problem for me is, so many names have been tainted by association. Just by nature of working with children and going with them into schools and daycares and preschools, I’ve been exposed to hundreds of kids.
And meeting people with certain names affects your perception.
It’s a personal pet peeve, and it’s also a silly thing to reject writing over. Honestly, we have two stories in the next Spinetingler issue that feature a character with the same name**. I was half tempted to ask one writer to consider a change, but that seemed stupid.
I mean, it isn’t like there’s only one character who’s been named John or Tom or Jane.
**Even if Darlene is my sister’s name.
Now, a lot of people use baby names books to pick names for characters. I do too. But I also use this resource that helps you determine the power of your name.
The Generous, Image-Conscious, Emotional Romantic
This name encourages a great deal of emotion and drama with little grounding or objectivity. A strong full name choice is imperative. For the naturally emotional or scattered individual, this name could be especially difficult. Take a look at how Maryanna "grades" this name, but do keep in mind that your Full Name also plays an important role in overall influence, thus this component of your name does not alone offer a complete picture of your moniker's effect on your life.
Financial Potential: D-
Professional/Job Success: B-
Charisma/Sex Appeal: A
Communication Ability: A-
The influence is primarily feminine whether this name is used for a female or male.
You share your first name vibration with Elton John, Sandra Bullock, Rose Kennedy and Joe Namath.
Now, before you hop on the “little grounding or objectivity” pony and trot off, bear in mind your first name is tempered by your last name. And in order to get the full profile, you have to pay.
Unless you’re me, and know the radio DJ that’s interviewing the naming consultant. Two years ago, I asked what should be on my book: Sandra Einarson or Sandra Ruttan.
I had writing credits as Sandra Ruttan from my journalism days, and I’d been having a hard time deciding what to do.
They said to write as Sandra Ruttan keep Einarson for my “legal” life on bank accounts and such, because my financial prospects were much better. Though obviously, being named Sandra hasn’t hurt Ms. Bullock too much.
And I’m gratified to know I’ve got a sexy name. (WTF? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read, but whatever…)
Now, if I was going to choose a pseudonym I’d consider:
The Creative, Confident, Objective Director
Take a look at how Maryanna "grades" this name, but do keep in mind that your Full Name also plays an important role in overall influence, thus this component of your name does not alone offer a complete picture of your moniker's effect on your life...
Financial Potential: A+
Professional/Job Success: A
Charisma/Sex Appeal: B+
Communication Ability: B+
The influence is a balanced blend of masculine and feminine energy, whether this name is used for a female or male.
Others who share this first name vibration include Michael Jordan, Winston Churchill, Diane Sawyer and Andre Agassi.
The Confident, Expressive, Productive Coordinator
Take a look at how Maryanna "grades" this name, but do keep in mind that your Full Name also plays an important role in overall influence, thus this component of your name does not alone offer a complete picture of your moniker's effect on your life.
Financial Potential: A+
Professional/Job Success: A
Charisma/Sex Appeal: A-
Communication Ability: A+
The influence equally supports both masculine and feminine expression with a little edge toward the masculine.
Others who share your first name vibration include Abraham Lincoln, Geraldo Rivera and Dusty Springfield.
Of course, if I was going to pick a pseudonym for marketing purposes, I think Irene Rankin might be a good choice.. Or Marcia Billingham. How about Vanna McDermid? Yep, those would be good names, nice produce placement names
Okay, so tell me about your name power. And how you pick names. And if the character names ever affect whether you read the book.
And what’s the craziest reason you’ve ever had work rejected for?
Because I’m nosey.
And I’m saving jokes for tomorrow because this is already so long, but to those who’ve been sending them, do not fear! I’ll be using them!
Sorry about the kitty photos - Blogger's not letting me upload them. I'll try again later.
* And clearly, I didn’t wave the THIS IS A JOKE banner enough, because people took it seriously. Okay, I do think the name Apple is a dumb name for a kid. I have the right to my opinion. Geesh, I wonder if the remark I made about mandatory executions for kids because 9 out or 10 are a pain in the ass will be misconstrued… Oh, probably. (There was a context, it was a joke, but I’m not funny.)