“Call me Ishmael.”
Don’t mind if I do.
What about Twist, Huck Finn, Mr. Darcy, Lolita. These names are literary standards – or rather, their stories are – or is it their names? Do their names really matter? What about roses?
My parents named me Rebecca. My brother is Matthew. My two youngest sisters are Sarah and Rachel. When we are introduced together someone inevitably says, “Oh, Bible names.” That was intentional on my parent’s part.
When I was married I took my husband’s last name but substituted my maiden name for my middle name. My maiden name is a part of who I am. It tells about where my great-great-grandparents come from. It was too much a part of my history for me to let go of it. My new last name tells about who I am now and where I’m going and who I’m becoming.
Names are important. But how important?
Currently I’m on a children’s writing/fiction fritz, and I’m hung up on names. I’m getting tired of writing “Phoebe’s Mom” and “Mr. ?” in my drafts. Some names jump into my head almost before their story comes. As if they are introducing themselves properly before mentioning that they might think enough of me as a writer to give me their story. I love these guys. Phoebe, for example, developed through some thoughts about the character’s personality as well as part of her connection to her mother and builds on other themes that are emerging. But why is it so hard to figure out what her mom is called?
I respect the other set. “Let’s see what you’ve got?” they seem to say. “You do some writing, and I’ll let you know in a bit if I trust you enough with the rest of this story.” I’m also annoyed with this set.
So, dear writer readers, how do names present themselves to you? How do you choose or know? What do you look for? When do you just throw in a “Bob” or “Sue” or are all your names critically assigned?
Moving on: last names. I had a last name pop into my head for one of my children’s pieces and that is absolutely the only last name I have developed so far. What makes “Bennet” such an exact fit for the family of five daughters in want of a husband? What do you consider when you write last names?
Also, am I overthinking this. Can I just hashtag #newbie on this post?