Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Name Game -- Why Should I Care?

As a fiction writer you must think about character names. For me sometimes it's easy. The name just sticks, it's perfect. In other instances I change names numerous times before the final draft. Even after I see it in print, I may say to myself, "did I choose the right one?". And rarely, after constant frustration, I'll throw up my hands and shout, "who cares?". 

Well, take note. There are lots of reasons to care. Just search for the articles. Dozens and hundreds of them, studies, research, you'll find them. Names matter. Okay, so I'm probably getting carried away. Fiction is, well, fiction. Not real life, no importance to the serious issues of anyone. However, the names authors choose can influence the names parents choose. Remember the explosion of the Twilight series and movies? Isabella or Bella became a number one choice in baby names for girls after that. 

Popularity of names aside, there are other particulars to mention, which are totally irrelevant to why authors should care but none the less interesting and fitting for this post. For instance, studies have shown that names may predict a person's future profession. Yes, I know what you're thinking. How silly is that? Hey, I'm just the messenger, reporting what I've found. Take it or leave it. Now, professions. How about women with more masculine names or gender neutral ones like Cameron or Ryan become more successful lawyers than those with more feminine names? Or take a look at the study about "nominative determinism" or in Latin, "nomen est omen" where one's name matches one's profession. Ridiculous theory? Then how do you explain: singer Bill Medley or poet William Wordsworth or race driver Scott Speed? Maybe those and other examples are mere coincidence. That almost seems a more rational explanation, doesn't it? I'm not done. There are other articles which go so far as to imply that subconsciously people choose a profession that matches letters in their names. Denise, Dwayne, and Debra will become dentists and Laura, Louis, and Larry will be lawyers. Huh. Guess I should've named my lawyer in A Deadly Deed Grows Laura instead of Mira. Then there's the conclusion made that those students whose names begin with the letters C and D will achieve low grades compared to their classmates with names like Alice and Bruce. Oh, boy. My report card was full of A's and B's, but my name starts with a K. Explain that one, you theory folks!

I drive myself crazy with all this insane or maybe not so insane information. So, I'm going to stop stressing or over-thinking the subject. Instead, I'll remember the line by Shakespeare: "a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet". Maybe I'll name my next hero Romeo. It's a thought.

P.S. If you're curious. There is a link I'm posting to an excel document. It's a naming game where you type your name and get the profession that matches. Only in fun, but entertaining just the same. And hilarious. Stephen King should've been a stand-up comedian. George Washington? The village idiot. Charles Dickens? Wait for it ... a porn star! Yes, silly, entertaining fun. Hey, my name turns up big game hunter. Too bad I am not inclined to pick up a rifle and shoot. Heck, I won't even kill a bug if I can avoid it. Geesh!

Anyway, here's the link: 

Happy reading and writing, all!

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