Name Calling

My great-nephew turned eleven or twelve this summer, and while at his bowling party, I realized he was using his middle name on score screen. “Uh, why is he bowling under the dog’s name?” I asked, and my sister reminded me that he had the name before the dog did. πŸ™‚

Turns out, he’s got friends who share his pseudo-trendy name, so at school, everyone calls him by his middle name. I can understand that. My best friend from 4th to 12th grade was named Marilyn. Our teacher insisted that one of us MUST use our middle name and, not liking my middle name one bit (and being none too fond of my first name), I crawled under the desk and wouldn’t come out till the other Marilyn said she would. (Marilyn Faye, if you happen to read this, thanks!)

I’ve had no problem changing from GN’s first name to middle. I figure if there’s one thing in the world each and every one of is entitled to, it’s choosing which name we want to answer to. Besides, I do it all the time.

A lot of writers will tell you that choosing their characters’ names is one of the most important aspects of starting a new book. Not for me. I can write an entire book with a heroine named one thing, then change it to another at the end. I sometimes just close my eyes and grab the first name that pops into my head that hasn’t been used in the series before. I go for the simple — John, Tom, Jack — and the trendy — Justin, Trent, Tyler — and the head-scratchers — Buck, Deke, Bryce and Easy.

Some of the names do match the characters. John and Tom and Easy just wouldn’t be the same guys if they’d had different names. But Buck would be just as much a cowboy cop if he were named Hank, Justin or Robbie.

Hold your ground, GN. If you want to be called Max, auntie M will do it.

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8 thoughts on “Name Calling

  1. There are some names that just aren’t hero names. Take Dirk, for instance. πŸ˜‰
    Character names aren’t most important for me, but their qualities are.
    Can’t go without knowing that.

  2. That’s how it was when we were kids. Full names meant run if you were foolish enough, but we never were. We faced our punishment.

    In middle school, our son came home and announced he wanted to go by Michael . . . kind of a surprise since it’s neither his first nor his middle name. He just liked the sound of it. πŸ™‚

  3. Yeah, mine went through that period. You have to understand, we orginally called him Teddy because we lived in Oklahoma. Huh? you ask. His full name is David Theodore. But here in Tulsa, we already had 3 Davids…my dad, my brother, and his toddler son. Not only were they all David, but they were David Sr., Jr., and the III. So, we called my son Teddy. But when he was 14, he insisted on being called David. It was real fun at family holidays trying to catch the attention of the correct David.

    • That’s funny, Jackie. I have two cousins, born a short time apart, both named Rhonda, and two other cousins who shared the same first, middle and last names.

      I’ve got to say, I don’t blame your David for wanting to not be Teddy. πŸ™‚

      The kiddo got over wanting to be Michael pretty quickly, but now he uses his first name, Robert, as much as the middle name the family uses.

      I did volunteer camp one summer where this other girl said, “I don’t like the name Marilyn. I’m going to call you Mary.” And she did, for an entire week. And I never answered, not once. I may not have liked Marilyn, but it’s mine. πŸ™‚

  4. I think kids use names to express their personalities. I spelled my name differently for seven years in a row. Just changed the spelling for a calendar year until I finally settled. In my family, we will nickname anyone… regardless their first or middle name… I like Max. Reminds me of Where The Wild Things Are. spw

    • LOL about the spelling. I would have switched to my initials years ago if I’d had the nerve — I never liked Marilyn, and people always assumed I was named after Marilyn Monroe (Mom had better taste than to admire actresses like that — in fact, I was named after her best friend in high school, then I got her younger sister’s middle name).

      I like Max, too. It’s not so common in his age group, and it’s strong and solid and will suit him as well in 50 years as it does now.

  5. I love the name Max.
    My son at about age 7, asked why he was named John. I asked him what he would have liked to be named. He thought a minute and said, “Bugs.” I had to admit that was one name we had never considered.
    Jackie King

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