Happy Tuesday, Reader Friends!!
Thank you for joining me today. I have the lovely Karen Jurgens here to share her Takeover Tuesday post, What in a Name? Show her some love in the comments and enjoy!
What’s in a Name?
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” ~ Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
When I taught high school English, one of my favorite writing assignments directed: Explain the significance of your first name and how it was chosen. To my delight, every student had an interesting tale to relate. Some stories made me chuckle, while others tugged at my heartstrings, but all were very special. Their personal names were precious and important, and the exercise gave me even more respect for them as individuals (not to mention helped me memorize each one better in a 180-person sea).
I was always intrigued by how my students possessed the latest, cutting-edge names from some current influence—and not the easiest ones for me to remember. Today’s names have branched into a unique frontier—so unique that I sometimes have trouble pronouncing them correctly. Their inspiration comes from varied sources, such as duplicated names of relatives, characters in books or movies, favorite singers, and other famous persons—the list of choices is endless.
In my family, my father always bowed to my mother’s preference regarding this important decision. But naming my two children was a different experience because my husband wanted an equal say in the decision. A week before the birth of our first daughter, we lobbed names back and forth across a restaurant dinner table, like a tennis game. Meghan won the match.
However, the second time, we couldn’t decide. Before the hospital sent me home (back when new mothers could stay up to three days), my husband wanted to christen our daughter Alice, while I insisted on Caroline, a family name. Finally, I broke the deadlock with something new I had heard from another expectant mom just days before giving birth—Caitlin. It was so brand new that we couldn’t remember it at first, so we nicknamed her Caitie.
Don’t we go through the same process with our characters? Like our children, we must give them perfect names. However, as writers, the process is reversed, and we must suggest ones that connote a character type that the reader can conjure up in his or her imagination.
These days, many parents already have names pre-chosen before birth. But, as authors, what if the chosen name doesn’t quite fit a character? For example, I would never name a redhead Raven, nor a blond Scarlett. Names need to paint pictures to logically suit the characters.
Have you ever read a book where a character’s name bothered you? If too unique, it draws me right out of the story. I might fret over its odd spelling or pronunciation. Or perhaps I used to know someone by that name, and it interferes with my liking the name for this story’s character. Then again, too many names that begin with the same letter can interfere with my remembering who is who. Variety in beginning letters and syllables helps me keep names separated in my mind.
Need some other ideas besides lists on the internet or in baby books? There is a terrific hot-off-the-press cheat sheet I’ve found for my contemporary characters. Since retirement, I’m now a substitute teacher, and schools supply me with hundreds of names each day on attendance sheets. Voilà! I religiously peruse hundreds of the latest, studying those pages like a fascinating novel and copying my favorites for future stories.
What’s in a name? Everything. Choosing well for your characters according to your time period and genre will be one of your most important decisions, as they will live forever in your readers’ imaginations.
About the Author
Karen lives in the great state of Texas and writes contemporary Christian romance. Passionate about heavenly marriage on earth, she writes about how to find God’s peace through life’s storms at Touched by Him, her ministry blog. You can connect with her at http://KarenJurgens.com.
About the Book
The Blurb: “Formally titled Desire’s Promise – Newly revised and expanded. Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked, however, by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Will she have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family? Her mother insists she will.
She tests God’s Word by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling? Nothing makes sense.
Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into Carlie’s life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for in a Christian mate. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance? Where will her final destination be on this journey of trust?”