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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Whimsy: What's in a name?

as thinking about this clip earlier today and couldn't resist, so this is a little bit of an homage to the master. I mean, if George Carlin said it then it must be true, right?

Well, in this case, I feel like he hit the nail on the head. Names say a lot about a person and they'll say a lot about your characters.

I was having this discussion with colleagues in my office the other day. We sat around discussing what names have connotations for us. It's utterly unexplainable, but when someone gives you their name you have an instant reaction. Who knows why or what you're basing it on. It simply is. (Little "Princess Bride" love in the picture.)

Here's what my co-workers and I discovered.

We've never met a Jeff we liked. The name says jerk. Jessica, in 90% of cases, is a witch. Dawn and Mandy... They're usually kind of skanky.

Then there are names that walk the line. The perfect example is Kimberly. Girls who choose to be Kimberly tend to be snooty and high-maintenance, but Kims are laid back and level-headed. I've never met a Kim I didn't like.

This is why I defer to George Carlin. He calls names like he sees them. It's a test a feel like more writers should run when naming there characters. Ask yourself, would George Carlin approve of this name?

It's not a hard and fast rule by any means, but I think it's an easy call to make. If your characters name is a stumbling block or you fear it will get stuck in a reader's teeth because of the apostrophe then there's a problem.

I'm not saying don't use futuristic, apostrophed or soft-sounding names. Not at all. The long and short of it is that the name needs to fit the character. And if your main character is a pansy who gets his butt-kicked often then the name Kyle isn't inappropriate.

WARNING: This video contains foul language.

1 comment:

  1. Great! And so true. My sister's name is Jessica, and I have to admit, she can be a witch.
    I love that clip!

    Hmm, I wonder what George would say about a "Lacey"?