Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Boy Named Lily

Names are in my head today.

A Boy Named Sue. (I know I'm older so this song was almost required listening -- or maybe my family just hangs on to things because, looking it up, it was recorded in 1969, and I'm actually not quite that old). One way or the other. It's a good song about names. Listen to it.

I think there was a boy in my high school named Sharon. And my brother-in-law is Shelly. He goes by Warren. (Which is a name that will not be shortened, for those who hate nick-names.) Also there's something I read forever ago suggesting that once boy names started being used for girls, the stopped being used for boys. (Which leads me in a whole different direction that usually ends in a screamed "hits like a girl? why are we less?" or occasionally the more quietly spoken, but somehow more threatening, "I'll show you 'hits like a girl,' just get me a bat") I'm hoping that's less true now as my children grow up - urban fantasy at least lets us girls kick ass and be the hero. I like that, though I don't want to create a world making my little boy or husband less just to make us equal.

But back to the much easier name thoughts, Kim Harrison mentions Unnecessary Magic as a really great title when she removes some from her current story. It really does roll off the tongue nicely. Names for books are even more difficult than names for characters.

From The Writer's Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters (what a name!), which I recently began, I want to remember to create a hero named Herb or something else appropriately awkward sounding. A natural hero. Is it cheating to see Herb as HER entire name, not short for Herbert?

Usually for me, names are either right there, part of the character when they first pop into my head, or I struggle for days trying to find the name that fits. I'm never sure why.

Ricia had her name and zombie problem before I knew anything else about her. I struggled with her past and her her story for quite a while (still do, in fact, but it's been tumbling in my head for a while and is destined for a much better rewrite. I think it's coming together correctly this time.)

Alternately, I knew everything about Jini but her name. I know why she's moving, why she's looking for a job, why she usually tends bar.... I know the incidents in her life that made her what she is. I know what the story should hold when I start writing. But it took me days to decide on Jini, after trying several other names on her and giving them time to be accepted or rejected. (Including Enid, Zoe, Fia, and Nurya). I was going flame-based. Babynamesworld is great for looking up names by meaning.

Did you know that Herb (Herbert, Herberto) means "Bright Army" and Sue means "Lily"? I wouldn't have expected that. I bet Herb was once a very manly-man name. Sue, on the other hand, could only have been worse for that fight-prone boy if the Dad had actually named him Lily. Is there a story for a boy named Lily where he doesn't get beat up? -- In an Earth-based society? Moving to an alien world where flower names are manly is cheating.

No comments:

Post a Comment