Monday, January 19, 2015
The Depth of a Name
Names intrigue me.
They often spur a memory, reminding me of a person, place, or an event from the past.
Last names can reveal a bit about a person's heritage, such as nationality or the profession of their ancestors. First and middle names might reflect the decade in which one was born, a significant family name, a parent's interests or creative bent, or a meaning of historical or Biblical significance. A "Junior" or "The Third" might follow tradition, paying tribute to a relative. When choosing a name, some parents consider initials or potential nicknames.
My Mom told me that she and Dad wanted our first and middle names to complement our last name. Makes sense. She also said that she pictured my sisters and me at graduation, to "listen" to what our names would sound like when announced in public. Don't misunderstand, she was not so vain as to think her daughters would be all that. I guess you might say that she planned ahead to avoid burdening us with names that sounded awkward.
That's what Mom and Dad gave me. I must admit, it did sound nice when I graduated. :) It also served a great purpose, for when I heard my full name, I knew I might be in trouble...
What can names do for our writing?
They can spark ideas and insight for articles, interviews, stories, poetry, and blog posts. Who hasn't heard a name that reminds us of a schoolmate or a funny or endearing event? We might associate a name with character strengths or weaknesses based on people we know.
These thoughts can grow into a story or humorous essay. We might use an interesting name to brainstorm and cluster ideas, or as a starting point for Hemingway's Challenge, those famous six word stories. They can take us on rabbit trails that reap delightful discoveries.
For additional insight through the etymology and history of first names, check out Behind the Name. Their Random Name Generator provides interesting possibilities; it explores masculine or feminine names from various nationalities and other categories. This just might help find that character name or bit of inspiration you are looking for.
Do names interest you? Care to share your first and middle name with us? Have names played a role in your writing?
Photo credit: Stock Exchange