Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What’s in a Name?

NamesGrace St. John. Niall Robertson or Black Niall. Rhage. Mary Luce. Pia Giovanni. Dragos Cuelebre.
If these names were thrown at me in the middle of a conversation about gardening and stamp collecting, I would instantly know, ooh!! Son of the Morning by Linda Howard! Oh snap! Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward! Oh heck yeah! Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison! I love those books!!

No, no, it’s not a photographic memory. Or a weird, selective form of Tourette's Syndrome. I know these characters because they—their names—represent the essence of the books. Grace St. John: Simple, stalwart, and a God-given mercy and salvation. Black Niall or Niall Robertson: strong, dark, mysterious, regal. Rhage: powerful, an inward, simmering anger, emotional. Mary Luce: innocent, hidden by powerful strength, worthy. Pia Giovanni: reverent, pure, sexy, independent. Dragos Cuelebre: mysterious, dangerous, serpent.

My point?

A name is everything! When I’m starting a book, one of the very first things I spend more time over than the actual plot is the names of my hero and heroine. To me this is one of the most important elements of the story because not only should their monikers embody the hero and heroine’s personalities, but they should be memorable. Just like I remember the characters above, I want a reader of my book to be able to call out my hero’s name and follow it up with, oh I loooove hiiimm!! And yes, draw it out just like that!

I write down my characters’ appearances, personalities, quirks and origins. And then I hit the baby name websites. And then Wikipedia. And follow that up with cultural websites that contain information on religion, traditions, etc. So much more goes into the selection than "unh-unh-that-will-so-not-sound-cute-when-she-calls-his-name-out-while-orgasming. Uh, not saying that’s not one of my criteria though. “Oh God, Oswald!” Nope, just not working for me… But there’s more to consider. If my hero is of Irish descent, why does he have a Persian name? I either need to change it or have a good reason why—which could lead to a colorful tidbit in his history or backstory. Or—and don’t nobody email me about this!!—if my African-American heroine is named Sheniqua or Sheneneh, I need to have a damn good reason! Because it’s comical stereotyping, did she have a ghetto mother who named her that and she is incredibly bougie or hates her name? Is it part of the story? Because if not—and it isn’t a screenplay for In Living Color the Movie—it’s gotta go!  But a beautiful, appropriate name—no matter how simple, exotic or colorful—is the beginning of a beautiful character and an even more wonderful booBaby namek!

On that note, I did a little investigating and scoped out some of the freakin’ weirdest baby celebrity names…All’s I’m sayin’ is they have nooo consideration what these kids are going to endure when they go to school…And that’s all’s I’m saying’…

1. Kal-El *Nicolas Cage’s son, named after Superman’s Krypton name...but then again he changed his last name to Cage in honor of Luke Cage, soooo…

2. Fifi Trixibelle *Daughter of Irish singer and songwriter, Bob Geldof. I don’t know who he is, but do I really need to go into why this is a bad idea?

3. Apple *Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter. Applehead. Applebottom. Appaloosa. Kids are cruel and you just handed them ammo…

4. Destry *Daughter of Steven Spielberg. Now, I honestly don’t think this one is too bad considering it makes me automatically think of “Destro” from G.I. Joe, one of my favorite childhood cartoons! But other people may not make that connection…

And the winner is…

Again, don’t nobody email me because everyone is fair game! My name is Naima for godsakes! I love it, but not many first graders know that Naima is a cool John Coltrane song! That said….

5. Prince Michael II/Blanket *Michael Jackson’s son. What? Did Mike run out of ideas? Did he just say, uh…how ‘bout George? Nah. What about Ralph? Naw. F*** it! Prince Michael II! And what is he wrapped in? A blanket? There you go, that’s what we’ll call him so we don’t confuse him with Prince Michael the First. Anyway, that’s what it sounded like to me…

Okay, I’m finished! How important do you think a name is? What is your favorite character name? Or do you want to add to my list? Go for it!

P.S. – The Zappa kids are disqualified because…well, just because…

4 comments:

Wynter Daniels said...

I agree that names are incredibly important. Lucky us that we can give out so many;-)

Naima Simone said...

LOL! I feel like a parent...except without the next 18 years of responsibility! Snicker!

Dalton Diaz said...

How about George Foreman, who named all of his sons George Edward Foreman?

Naima Simone said...

Oooh! Good one, Dalton!! I'd forgotten about that bit of hubris!