What’s in a Name? – Picking Character Names

We have a furry addition to our family – a female black cat that we adopted yesterday from the local animal shelter. We’ve had a bad run with pets over the last few years but, ever hopeful, we’re giving cat ownership another go. Which leads us todays post, because of course our new furry friend needs a name.

In this case we decided on Blackie. I know it doesn’t win awards for originality. Thank goodness animals are the only ones to get names based on their appearance, other wise both my boys would be named Scrawny Pink Thing.

Names are a funny thing. When I was teaching I came to associate a certain type of kid with their name, thus I’ve never met a Lewis who wasn’t lovely while I have a weird aversion to boys with J names (thank you, all you Jakes, Jordans, Jacksons and Joshs). Of course some of the ‘J’ brigade were lovely, but it’s the little…well, you know, that stand out.

As far as characters go, I struggle to name them. My protagonist in Child of War is Jedda, a name that I hoped was strong and not too main stream – but not too out there. It’s a j-name obviously but he and I get along pretty well.

And while they may seem superficial, the names characters have help to form a picture in our mind, they both draw on and add to our previous experience to create meaning. After all, would we picture Shakespeare’s Juliet the same if she were called Ursula? Romeo and Ursula? Or would we now imagine all girls called Ursula differently? I knew a couple who named their new baby daughter Ursula – my immediate mental image was not flattering.

If you were being set up on a blind date with a man called Homer, would you picture a distinguished Greek poet or a jaundiced over-weight family man?

Do you have any favourite character names? How important are names to you?

I am Cat (Ages 3 years +)

Let me apologise for my extended absence. I have been busily trying to finish some short stories for upcoming competitions (the Unfettered competition and the KBR Award for picture books) and have been neglecting my poor blog – it’s so unloved isn’t it!

Here is another story to make up for it though. I should add, after writing this I had the feeling I had read it before…as in I think it might be someone else’s story that I’ve subconsciously ripped off…but I’m not sure. So I’m going to post it anyway, but if you recognise it (or, God forbid, wrote it) let me know and I’ll pull it down ASAP. 

I am Cat. Just Cat.

 

Once there was Cat and Man.

 

Cat and Man and sardines and a sunny step.

 

But Man is gone now.

 

There is just Cat and cold and hunger.

 

 

I smell mice.

 

Quick, too quick, they scamper away into the grass.

 

Rustle, rustle and they are gone.

 

My stomach growls.

 

 

Food?

 

Human food.

 

Creep, creep, creep.

 

No one around.

 

Food for Cat.

 

 

Tricked!

 

Tricked and trapped, trapped and tricked.

 

It smells like dog in here.

 

Vroooom vrooom vrooom.

 

 

Cats. Cats everywhere.

 

Why are we here?

 

To find new homes.

 

Will a human take me?

 

No, not you. They only want kittens.

 

They only want kittens?

 

You are too old.

 

 

I smell chocolate.

 

I smell grass.

 

I smell dirt.

 

I smell boy.

 

 

I am Cat. My boy calls me Billy.

 

Billy and Boy live here.

 

Billy and Boy and milk and toy mice.

 

Boy has gone to school now.

 

But he’ll be back and I’ll be waiting.