What’s in a Name?

By Melinda Dozier, author of Breaking the Rules

Breaking the RulesChoosing characters names can be a lot of fun, but it’s also serious business! Names disclose much about who a person is. In fact, I could argue that names actually shape people. Just imagine this – Gone With the Wind — instead of Scarlet she’d be Frances. Yep, that was one of the top 10 names during the American Civil War, according to the US Census. But, it just doesn’t have the same ring, does it? “Frankly, Frances, I don’t give a damn.” Nope. Doesn’t work.

Names are important!

Now, what about nicknames? Are they the same? I believe nicknames are just as important, if not more so. People actually use their nicknames more in their personal lives, with those they love. Take me for example:

My full name is Melinda – kind of sensual right? I can imagine a Melinda walking down the beach, wind blowing in her hair, gracefully stepping as if on a catwalk of sand. Her lover, Rafael (yes, that’s my husband’s name – pure manly name) comes to my side, yanks my head back and kisses me with fervor. Sigh.

In reality, I actually go by a nickname – Mindy. Mindy just doesn’t have that same graceful quality as Melinda, don’t you think? Mindy is that sidekick friend who bounces up and down, tells jokes, goes on a group date so you won’t be alone or prefers the long walk in the mall rather than on that sandy catwalk. So, I have these two sides of me. Sensual Melinda or Bouncy Mindy. I can choose who I want to be on any given day.

Just like me, my characters in Breaking the Rules have very carefully chosen names, but the two also divulge in flirtations by providing nicknames to each other. This was tough! I had to choose the perfect names. In the end, I chose HOPE and COLIN. Hope has the perfect name. It’s unique and tells the reader in a subtle way what Hope needs in the story – ahem – hope. Colin’s name materialized much easier. I actually have a list of hero names that I love and Colin is one of them.

Now to their nicknames. Early in the story, you’ll see that Hope establishes Colin’s nickname as “Yank.” Can you guess why? Yep! He’s a huge Yankees fan, which Hope despises because she attended Boston U. Colin has an adorable habit – he can’t leave home without his lucky Yankees baseball cap. Can Yank get past second-base with a Red Sox fan? Read to find out!

Colin, not so natural on offering nicknames, appoints the name “Soxy” to Hope. He finds her an extremely sexy Red Sox fan and joins the two. Hope finds this hilarious and I have to say it demonstrates one of Colin’s best characteristics – his flirtatious humor.

Nicknames are around us everywhere — be it in real-life or in books. What is your nickname and how did you get it? Do you think it shapes who you are? How about your favorite characters with nicknames?

Hope and Colin have other nicknames in the book – they can’t hold themselves back from all the name-calling! It’s just part of their personalities. I hope you pick up Breaking the Rules, which is available now, to find out more about these two amazing characters with the perfect names!

11 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Becky Lower

    I love this post, and agree that giving our characters names is one of the joys of writing. They must be carefully chosen to convey the right impression. One of my favorite characters is named Cyclone, and not just because he was born in Tornado Alley. You can guess what kind of emotions he stirs up in women!

    As for me, not so fortunate. My mother named my older sister Patricia and then spent the next year and a half trying to decide what nickname to give her. To this day, she changes from Patty to Trish to Patsy to Pat, etc. So, when I popped out, Mom decided to forgo the madness and just give me the name she wanted for me. So I’m Becky, not Rebecca. That’s actually how I have to identify myself most of the time. Becky, not Rebecca.

  2. Deborah O'Neill Cordes

    Great post, Monica. I love the names Hope and Colin and also their nicknames. You were quite thoughtful in the process of choosing what was right for your characters. And I loved Becky’s comments above! As for my name, I have to be open to everything, like Debbie, Deb, and now a new one created by one of my CR fellow authors, because she got “sticky fingers” on her keypad – Debo. lol

  3. BeckyFlade

    OMG okay I have to reply to everything here.
    Melinda ~ You’re right, character names are important & until I have them just right my story doesn’t flow for me. Nicknames are intimate in my opinion they show a connection. Maggie & Aidan have very unique nicknames in Fated Souls: Maggie calls Aidan Asshole and he calls her Rock Star. 🙂 It fits.
    Becky ~ My mother wanted to name me Becky but my dad thought it wasn’t proper. I ended up with Rebecca. All they’ve ever called me is Becky, even when I was getting yelled at as a kid, and I recently discovered my dad doesn’t even know how to spell Rebecca! When I called him on it he whispered, “Your mother was right – we should’ve just named you Becky but don’t tell her I said that.”
    Debo ~ I love you!

  4. Betty

    OMG I was just working on a blog post just like yours, Mindy! Partly because of my typo of Debo’s name LOL. Deborah I think I’ve started something! My full name is Elizabeth, but friends and family call me Betty. When I published Love’s Destiny I decided to use Elizabeth instead of Betty because it sounds more romantic to me…kind of like your Melinda vs. Mindy. I’m hoping to get this post out soon, and I hope it will be as fun as this one is!