If you called a rose a lily, would it still be a rose? Names are hard.
I’m not just talking about character names, but book titles, blog titles, the name you pick for your dog, and for those of you who are having kids, picking a name for your kid that doesn’t add to their probable trauma growing up.
To name something is, in certain situations, to identify it. Names that are familiar words, like Chick in Chick fil A, will fire off in people’s brains a word association that may eventually lead them to driving by for lunch. I’m sure that there’s some marketing psychology class somewhere that goes into much more detail.
I’m gonna let you look into that.
What I would like to concentrate on in this post is the pressure you experience when you are about to give something a name.
For example: I have named every other character in my WIP fantasy with a name that I am sure of and am happy that fits except for my main character. I have no idea what to call her. She is the main character! She absolutely needs a name that resonates with me, the author, essentially her creator. For the life of me, I can’t choose. I can’t create a name, either.
And, I don’t know if it’s the pressure of choosing the name or the pressure of naming a main character, which is a different pressure in itself. If you saw me right now, I’d be shrugging my shoulders in exasperation.
In some sense, I think the pressure itself is what is making it hard for me to choose.
Why? Because when I hear the name Jamie now, trust that I think of James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser (Outlander). When I think of the name Jason I think of Jason of the Argonauts, but I also think of how I refused to pronounce Jacen Solo’s name in the same way because I didn’t think it was a name that made sense for the Star Wars aesthetic. I pronounced it “JAY-ken” for years (Star Wars Legends).
When I think of Mary, there’s Mary Magdalene, Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mary, Martha’s sister, and on and on and on.
When I think of Mara, I think of Ruth’s mother-in-law (from the Book of Ruth, in the Bible) and Mara Jade, Luke Skywalker’s wife in the Star Wars Legends (seriously, you guys should read those).
It’s not always a good association. I probably wouldn’t date someone with the same name as someone who used to abuse me. Some names just become anathema. I’m sure Adolf was a great German name before WWII.
Then there are the names that you were fine with, that at one place in your life suited you, and now they don’t. Like Kendra&Story, for instance. At one point, it suited the aesthetic I was going for. But that’s not me anymore. And my blog needs to reflect that, because, well, it’s my blog.
So, in a way, I said all of this to indicate that there will most likely be a name change for the blog in the future (and maybe a revamping of the aesthetic).
But, I’m also genuinely curious about how you feel about names. Are they something that effect you deeply, in your personal life and as a writer? As a writer, do they hold you back sometimes, because you can’t continue until something is given the right name? What names fires off associations for you? Good? Bad?
What do names mean to you?