Friday, December 5, 2008

That Shakespeare-guy didn't know what he was talking about!


"What's in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet;/ And so Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,/ Retain that dear perfection which he owes/ without that title."

I say thee nay, Old Bill!

Mikey and Juliet? Steve and Juliet? Geoffrey and Juliet?


Also - Mercutio? Could never ever ever be called anything but Mercutio. It would just be wrong.

Me? I don't know if I've ever changed a character's name after I've started writing them... I don't know if I could. Start writing them, that is. I have to have stuff like that pretty nailed down before I start a character on their way into the story. It's one of my loveable quirks.

That and the fact that I have no idea where some of my character names come from. Often, they just come attached when the character presents themself to me. My male protagonist in WONDROUS STRANGE, Sonny Flannery, is a possible exception to this - I'm pretty sure that his name, in part, was inspired by the Robbie Robertson song "Sonny Got Caught in the Moonlight". Or maybe that was already his name and and I just started to associate the song with him after I started writing... aw hell. I don't know. It's a chicken/egg thing, that one. But he's never been anything but Sonny. I can't even imagine it. My brain goes into vapor-lock if I even try.

I also noticed another quirk while writing the WONDROUS books; for this story, I really seem to gravitate toward names with repeated letters in them. Sonny. Kelley. Emma. Tyff. Maddox. Anneel. Bellamy. Harvicc. I have absolutely no idea what that means. But I did find it an interesting observation.

Names are tactile, visual, aural to me. They have a sound and a look and almost a taste to them when I see them. They have to look right on the page. They have to feel right in my ear. And they have to be right for the character or I find I have a very hard time writing that character.

I wrote a short story called "Trippingly Off The Tongue" that had a character named Vinx in it. Actually, that was the short form of his name - his nickname, if you will. I knew that while I was writing the story but, like my protagonist in that case, I didn't know what his full name was until the very end of the tale. I found out at the exact same time she did that his full name was, in fact, Vinxythnial Wharburton-Smythe III. A perfect name for a seven-foot tall winged purple demon with a homicidal sense of humor, don't you think?


Jillian Cantor said...

So true, Lesley! I also have not been able to change a character's name after starting the writing (not a main character anyway). It would be like having a baby and then changing his name after six months or something!

Oh, and I do hope I get to meet Vinx one day, only not in a dark alley :-).

Maureen Lipinski said...

Vinx? That sounds hot!

I think I allow myself to change character names because sometimes it's the only way to move forward. By naming a character Whatever, I can keep writing a scene instead of the inevitable hours of research and procrastination that would follow to find the "right" name.

Plus, I love researching names so much that I use it as a kind of "reward" for finishing the first draft!

lisapatton said...

Great post, Lesley. I love your character's names. And the more I think about it I really love your title. Wondrous Strange is something I can totally relate to. Most all of the people I truly love can be described as wonderfully strange. :-)